The welfare of all farmed animals is protected by the Animal Health and Welfare Act 2006 which makes it an offence to cause unnecessary suffering to any animal. The Act also contains a duty of care to animals – anyone responsible for an animal must take reasonable steps to make sure the animal’s welfare needs are met.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 allows for Codes of Recommendations for the welfare of animals to be produced.
Welfare codes do not lay down statutory requirements. However, livestock farmers and employers are required by law to ensure that all those attending to their livestock are familiar with, and have access to, the relevant codes.
Although the main aim of the welfare codes is to encourage farmers to adopt high standards of husbandry, they may also be used to back up legislative requirements. Where a person is charged with a welfare offence, failure to comply with the provisions of a welfare code may be relied on by the prosecution to establish guilt.