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Protection of chickens kept for meat production

Community measures regulate the management of holdings that rear chickens for meat production in order to improve animal welfare, particularly for chickens kept on intensive farms.


Council Directive 2007/43/EC of 28 June 2007 laying down minimum rules for the protection of chickens kept for meat production


This Directive lays down a number of minimum requirements for holdings that rear chickens for meat production. Those requirements are designed to protect the welfare of the chickens, particularly those kept on high-density farms, and to eliminate distortions of competition in the sector.


This Directive applies to holdings that rear chickens for meat production (broiler chickens). It does not apply to holdings with fewer than 500 chickens or to holdings with only breeding stocks of chickens.

Rules that apply to all holdings

The poultry houses in which the chickens are kept must allow all chickens adequate access to a litter tray, a drinking channel and food. The buildings must have adequate lighting and ventilation, and should be inspected at least twice a day. Any chickens that are seriously injured or in poor health must be treated or immediately culled. Most surgical procedures performed for purposes other than medical treatment are prohibited. However, beak trimming and castration may be permitted in certain cases. Furthermore, the producer must keep a detailed record of the chickens reared, the conditions in which they are kept, their state of health, the mortality rate and any medical treatments administered.

The competent authorities must implement measures for monitoring and follow‑up at the abattoir. If the post-mortem inspection reveals possible indications of poor welfare conditions, the holding and the competent authorities must take the appropriate measures.

Rules that apply to high-density holdings

The stocking density should not exceed 33 kg/m2. However, a higher stocking density (up to a maximum of 42 kg/m2) may be authorised if the producer meets additional criteria.

In addition to the rules that apply to all holdings, owners of high-density holdings must supply the competent authorities with specific documentation containing technical details relating to the holding and its equipment. Furthermore, holdings must be equipped with ventilation, heating and cooling systems to maintain the appropriate temperature, humidity and CO2 and NH3 concentrations.

Staff training

Farmers must follow training courses on the following subjects:

  • the characteristics of holdings and stocking density;
  • animal physiology;
  • handling chickens and administering emergency care;
  • preventive biosecurity.

Committee procedure

The Commission is assisted by the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health in implementing this Directive.


Before the entry into force of this Directive, the welfare of chickens kept for meat production was not covered by any specific Community legislation, except the general requirements of Council Directive 98/58/EC concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes. The Directive was proposed following a report drawn up in 2001 by the Scientific Committee on Animal Health and Animal Welfare , which concluded that the level of animal health and animal welfare was not satisfactory.


ActEntry into forceDeadline for transposition in the Member StatesOfficial Journal
Directive 2007/43/EC



OJ L 182, 12.7.2007

Last updated: 23.11.2010
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