Farmed animals

Over the past two decades we’ve raised the standard of care for farmed animals by encouraging farmers to make the necessary improvements to become certified.

Free range and barn layer hens

SPCA Certified layer hens live in free range and barn systems that meet the needs of the hens, and support the promotion of positive experiences. Free range chickens are housed in a shed with the opportunity to access an outdoor area during daylight hours. Barn chickens are housed in a shed without access to an outdoor area. Both systems give chickens access to environmental enrichment, platforms for perching, and more space compared with non-SPCA Certified systems.

What does a hen want?

  • To enjoy a dust bath

  • To spread her wings and stretch

  • To scratch around and forage

  • To have somewhere safe to lay her eggs

What SPCA Certified means for hens

SPCA Certified requirement Why? Code of Welfare Minimum Standard
FR birds have access to a range with shade/shelter for 8 hours each day (min). Provides an important opportunity to perform natural behaviours for a large part of the day, .e.g. pecking, exploration and social interaction, in a complex environment. Access during daylight hours (no min specified).
Enrichment provided after nest box training. Allows birds to perform natural behaviours and encourages mobility, which improves leg and general health. No specific mention.
Space to move freely and perform natural behaviours. Max flock size of 5000, with 7 birds/m2 in barns and 9 birds/m2 in free range. Ensures that birds are not overcrowded and can perform normal behaviours. Not exceed 7 birds/m2 in barns without outdoor access, or 9 birds/m2 in barns with outdoor access
Good quality litter that covers the entire floor is provided following nest box training and is kept at a depth of 5-10 cm until depopulation. Gives the birds enough material to perform important natural behaviours, e.g. dustbathing and pecking. Good quality litter must be provided, but no depth given.
Structures must not obstruct hen movement Ensures that birds can move freely around the shed, reducing frustration and the risk of entrapment. No specific mention.
Insoluble grit at least weekly. Ensures that birds are able to eat properly. Hens don't have teeth. Grit allows them to break up/digest their food. No specific mention.
Fully slatted or wire mesh floors not allowed. Improves foot health and reduces discomfort. Slatted, perforated or wire floors permitted.
Feed free from sub-therapeutic antibiotics Reduce antibiotic resistance and unecessarily medicating healthy birds. Feed and water must maintain good health.
No antibiotics in feed without vet advice. Allows for sick birds to be treated, if needed. No specific mention.
Nest boxes must have a suitable flooring substrate; wire mesh is not allowed. Ensures that the nesting area is comfortable during the performance of an important behaviour (egg laying). A secluded nesting area must be provided. Wire mesh is allowed, if it is covered.
Minimum of 12 hours of light and 8 hours dark each day. Ensures that the birds have a relatively normal light/dark cycle, which is important for stimulating normal behaviour and rest. 8 hours dark each day.
Ammonia kept below 15 ppm (daily) and dust minimised. Improved air quality leads to a healthier environment. Ammonia below 20 ppm.
1500 birds/ha in FR without rotation/spelling and 2000 birds/ha in FR with rotation/spelling. Ensures that birds are not overcrowded and can perform normal behaviours. 2500 birds/ha.
One pop hole per 600 birds for FR. Pop holes measure 1m x 0.35m (minimum). Allows birds to access the range with ease. Pop holes evenly distributed. No per bird requirement given.
Monthly feather scoring after 30 weeks of age. Ensures that birds are healthy and allows early identification of problems, e.g. feather pecking or soiled litter. No specific mention.
Birds inspected at least twice each day and done calmly. Ensures that welfare/health problems are quickly detected, to minimise suffering. Calm inspections reduce stress on the birds. Inspect once a day (min).
Fortnightly foot health inspections. Improves foot health and reduces discomfort. No specific mention.
Perches/platforms for all birds. 13-15 cm/bird, depending on what is provided. Improves leg health/mobility and allows for an important natural behaviour (perching/roosting) to occur. Roosting facilities must be provided.
Mandatory staff training. Ensures that staff know what they are doing and can respond to problems appropriately to reduce bird distress/discomfort. Staff must collectively possess the knowledge and skills to meet the minimum standards and be trained for emergencies, e.g. fire.
Three birds per hand (max) at catching. Reduces the risk of serious injury during a highly stressful procedure. Four per hand.

Together, we can raise the bar of welfare for farmed animals

Every year over 13,000,000 farmed animals in NZ benefit from a higher standard of care. Sounds like a lot, but that’s just 21% of all the country’s farmed animals*. With your help, we can improve the welfare of many more farmed animals in NZ. *Stats NZ 2019