Proposed changes to the RSPCA/Freedom Food layer hen welfare standards, which included new requirements for perches, multi-tier systems, environmental enrichment, injurious pecking and slaughter, have been postponed following a meeting with NFU representatives and industry stakeholders.
While commenting that discussions on the changes were “positive” a statement issued by the NFU said it has been agreed that further consultation with the industry, to better understand members concerns, should now take place.
“The RSPCA has agreed to postpone the introduction of the new standards, pending this consultation, and will write to its members to advise them of this delay,” said the union, commenting after the joint meeting which took place on September 20.
Under the original RSPCA plan, the changes were due to apply from October 7, 2017. These included the need for all new-build and refurbished hen houses to provide a minimum of 15cm raised perch space per hen, although this rule was subject to phased implementation running into 2018.