RSPCA must “step up to the plate” to help free range producers meet new perching rules, says BFREPA

UK - The chief executive of the British Free Range Egg Producers Association has called on RSPCA Assured to help its members meet new hen perching requirements
calendar icon 9 July 2018
clock icon 3 minute read

Robert Gooch says many producers are struggling to fit new perches required by the assurance scheme.

Mobile units and some older shed designs are proving particularly problematic and, in some cases, it has been found to be impossible.

Mr Gooch has written to RSPCA Assured to call for every member experiencing difficulty to be supported through the compliance process or be given a derogation.

“Since the revisions were first introduced in July 2016 I have been pointing out the difficulties many producers will face retrofitting aerial perches into single-tier houses,” Mr Gooch said.

“The design of some producers’ houses makes it practically impossible to achieve.

“We are now coming up to crunch time in terms of implementation and RSPCA Assured must step up to the plate and provide the resources to show how to deliver this new standard imposed on producers.”

All producers in the scheme must provide at least 8cm of perching per bird for all flocks housed after August 2018.

BFREPA fought the proposals amid concerns placing additional furniture in sheds would lead to an increase in injuries to hens and hamper stockmanship.

But is has also come to light that some producers cannot install perches because their sheds cannot support the additional weight.

“Aerial perching places a load of two tonnes per 1,000 birds, and many house structures were not designed to take this extra weight,” Mr Gooch said.

“RSPCA Assured should provide time-limited concessions for those attempting to meet the standard, and derogations for those whose house structures are unable to take the loading for the health and safety of both birds and the farmer and their staff.”

It is estimated that about 250 BFREPA members are affected by the changes.

BFREPA is advising that any members experiencing difficulties contact RSPCA Assured immediately.

As reported by BFREPA

Ryan Johnson

Editor at The Poultry Site

Ryan worked in conservation from 2008 to 2017, during which time he operated a rainbow trout hatchery and helped to maintain public and protected green spaces in Canada for the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority. As editor of The Poultry Site, he now writes about challenges and opportunities in agriculture across the globe.

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