Canadian update codes of practice for layers

April 13, 2017

On March 27, Egg Farmers of Canada and the National Farm Animal Care Council released an update to the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pullets and Laying Hens. The previous Code for layers had been in effect since 2003. This 2017 update includes recommendations and requirements for pullets and layers in three production systems – conventional cages, enriched housing and non-cage systems. The Code also lays out a timeline to phase out all conventional cages, with all Canadian layers housed in enriched or non-cage systems by July 1, 2036.

For pullets, the new Code relaxes the standards on feed space per bird and birds per waterer, while maintaining the requirements for space allowance.

The updated Code shows appreciation for the variety of non-cage systems in use, by breaking out cage-free space requirements based on whether birds move horizontally, or horizontally and vertically – much like the UEP Certified guideline. However, the Canadian Code requires approximately 2.0 square feet per bird in all-litter housing systems.

The Canadian Code sets forth transitional and final requirements for nesting, perching and foraging/dust bathing in both enriched and non-cage housing. The final requirements for non-cage systems state 12.9 square inches of nest space per bird, six linear inches of perch space per bird and 33% of usable space as litter in multi-tier systems (after birds reach 24 weeks).

As in the past, the Code lays out expectations for handling and transporting birds, bird environment maintenance (lighting, temperature, etc.), and feed and water. Many of the requirements in this new Code of Practice align very closely with the 2017 UEP Certified guideline.

Photo caption: Hens in enriched colony housing, Burnbrae Farms in Ontario