The effect on the costs of production of the Directive as compared with the usual 350 cm2 per bird in battery cages in third countries is as follows:-

Stocking density

cm2 per bird

Capital cost/bird

Running costs/dozen


!0.00 42p


14.00 45p


17.50 48p


based on 11.7 birds/m2

14.73 56.2p

Free range

based on 11.7 birds/m2

20.61 66.4p


based on 9 birds/m2

19.14 61.5p

Free range

based on 9 birds/m2

25.00 73.3p

This clearly demonstrates that the UK will be unable to compete unless ALL MEMBER STATES COMPLY with the Directive AND ALL EGG IMPORTS FROM THIRD COUNTRIES are prevented from flooding the UK.

It is obvious that the former will not happen due to the scant regard that other Member States hold for this Directive and the fact that  previous legislation (increasing stocking densities to 450cm2) in those States has not yet been implemented. The US is already gearing up its production since they will easily be able to compete against our higher costs.

Will the supermarkets care? NO. They will continue to buy on price alone forgoing any welfare considerations that they instigated.

The UK, which rigorously implements any legislation, will reduce its caged laying flocks by 20% in 2003 to comply with the new stocking densities. No enriched cages will ever be built due to to the unfeasibility and high costs of the system. Existing cage units that require refurbishing prior to 2012 will become barn egg units - and this is happening now. In 2012 (or maybe sooner)  there will be no poultry industry left. Why? Because we are already producing too many barn/free-range eggs that cannot be sold at a profit - the supermarkets will not pay the price. They will continue to dictate their demands and while there are cheaper eggs available from outside the UK that is where those eggs will be sourced - hypocritical, yes but also fact.


These are the revised proposals, passed on 15/6/99




Proposal for a 




laying down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens





Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, and in particular Article 43 thereof,


Having regard to the proposal from the Commission,


Having regard to the Opinion of the European Parliament,


Having regard to the Opinion of the Economic and Social Committee,


Whereas on 07 March 1988 the Council adopted Directive 88/166/EEC complying with the judgment of the Court of Justice in Case 131/86 (annulment of Council Directive 86/133/EEC of 25 March 1986 laying down minimum standards for the protection of hens kept in battery cages);


Whereas Article 9 of Directive 86/133/EEC requires the Commission to submit, before 01 January 1993, a report on scientific developments regarding the welfare of hens under various systems of rearing and on the provisions in the Annex to the Directive, accompanied by any appropriate proposals;


Whereas Directive 98/58/EC, drawn up on the basis of the European Convention for the Protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes, lays down Community provisions designed to give effect to the principles laid down in the Convention, which include the provision of housing, food, water and care appropriate to the physiological and ethological needs of the animals;


Whereas in 1995 the Standing Committee of the European Convention for the protection of Animals kept for Farming Purposes adopted a detailed recommendation which includes laying hens;


Whereas the protection of laying hens is a matter of Community competence;


Whereas the Commission report referred to in the second recital, based on an opinion from the Scientific Veterinary Committee, concludes that the welfare conditions of hens kept in current battery cages and in other systems of rearing are inadequate and that certain of their needs cannot be met in such cages; whereas the highest possible standards should therefore be introduced, in the light of various parameters to be considered in order to improve these conditions;


Whereas, however, for a period to be determined, the use of enriched cage systems may be continued under certain conditions, including improved structural and space requirements;


Whereas a balance must be kept between the various aspects to be taken into consideration, as regards both welfare and health, economic and social considerations, and also environmental impact;


Whereas it is appropriate, while studies on the welfare of laying hens in various systems of rearing are carried out, to adopt provisions that allow the Member States to choose the most appropriate system or systems;


Whereas Directive 88/166/EEC should therefore be repealed and replaced.



Article 1


  1. This Directive lays down minimum standards for the protection of laying hens.

  2. This Directive shall not apply to:


establishments with less than 350 laying hens

establishments rearing breeding hens

Such establishments shall, however continue to be subject to the relevant requirements of Directive 98/58/EC.


Article 2


The Definitions in Article 2 of Directive 98/58/EC shall apply where necessary.


In addition the following definitions shall apply for the purpose of this Directive:



"laying hens" means:

hens of the species Gallus gallus which have reached laying maturity and are kept for production of eggs not intended for hatching;


"nest" means: 

a separate space for egg laying, the floor components of which may not include wire mesh that can come into contact with the birds, for an individual hen or for a group of hens (group nest);


"litter" means:

any friable material enabling the birds to satisfy their ethological needs;


"usable area" means:

an area at least 30cm wide with a floor slope not exceeding 14%, with a head room of at least 45cm. Nesting areas shall not be regarded as usable areas.



According to the system or systems adopted by the Member States, they shall ensure that the owners add holders of laying hens apply not only the relevant provisions of Directive 98/58/EC and of the Annex to this Directive but also the requirements specific to each of the systems referred to below, namely:

  1. either the provisions laid down in Chapter I as regards "alterative systems";

  2. or the provisions laid down in Chapter II as regards un-enriched "cage" systems;

  3. or the provisions of Chapter III concerning "enriched cages".



Provisions applicable to alternative systems


Member States shall ensure that from [1 January 2002] all newly built or rebuilt systems of production referred to in this Chapter and all such systems of production brought into use for the first time comply at least with the requirements below:


1. All systems must be equipped in such a way that all hens have:


  1. either linear feeders providing at least 10cm per bird or circular feeders providing at least 4cm per bird;

  2. either continuous drinking troughs providing 2.5cm per bird or circular drinking troughs providing 1cm per bird. In addition, where cups or nipple drinkers are used, there shall be at least 1 cup or nipple drinker per 10 hens. Where drinking points are plumbed in at least 2 nipple drinkers or 2 cups shall be within reach of each bird;

  3. at least one nest for every 7 laying hens. If group nests are used, there must be at least 1 M2 of nest space for a maximum of 120 hens;

  4. adequate perches, without sharp edges and providing at least 15cm per bird. Perches must not be mounted above the litter and the horizontal distance between perches must be at least 30cm and the horizontal distance between the perch and the wall must be at least 20 cm;

  5. at least 250 cm2 of littered area per hen, litter occupying at least one third of the ground surface.


2. The floors of installations must be constructed so as to support adequately each of the forward-facing claws of each foot.


3. In addition to the provisions laid down in 1 and 2,


(a) If systems of rearing are used where the birds can move freely between different levels,

there shall be no more than four levels

the headroom between the levels must be at least 45cm

the drinking and feeding facilities must be distributed in such a way as to provide equal access for all hens;

the levels must be so arranged as to prevent droppings falling on the levels below.


(b) If laying hens have access to open runs:


there must be several pop holes giving direct access to the outside area, at least 35cm high and 40cm long and extending along the entire length of the building; in any case a total opening of 2m must be available per group of 2000 hens;

open runs must be:


of an area appropriate to the stocking density and to the nature of the ground, in order to prevent any contamination;

equipped with shelter from inclement weather and predators and, if necessary, appropriate drinking troughs.

4. The stocking density must not exceed 9 hens per m2 usable area.


  1. However, where the usable area corresponds to the available ground surface, member states may, until 31.12.2011, authorise a stocking density of 12 hens per m2 available area for those establishments applying this system on the date of the entry into force of this Directive.

  2. In addition, Member States shall ensure that the minimum requirements laid down in a) apply to all alternative systems from [01January 2007]


Chapter II


Provisions applicable to rearing in un-enriched cage systems


Article 5


A. Member states shall ensure that from [01.01.2003], all cage systems referred to in this chapter comply at least with the following requirements:



  1. At least 550 cm2 per hens of cage area, measured in a horizontal plane, which may be used without restriction, in particular not including non- waste deflection plates liable to restrict the area available, must be provided for each laying hen;

  2. A feed trough which may be used without restrictions must be provided. Its length must be at least 10 cm multiplied by the number of birds in the cage;

  3. Unless nipple drinkers or drinking cups are provided each cage must have a continuous drinking channel of the same length as the feed trough mentioned in 2. Where drinking points are plumbed in, at least to nipple drinkers or two cups must be within reach of each cage;

  4. Cages must be at least 40 cm  high over at least 65% of the cage area and not less than 35 cm at any point;

  5. Floors of the cages must be constructed so as to support adequately each of the forward facing claws of each foot. Floor slope must not exceed 14% or eight degrees. In the case of floors using other than rectangular wire mesh, Member States may permit steeper slopes;

  6. Cages shall be fitted with suitable claw shortening devices.

B. "Member states shall ensure that rearing in the cages referred to in this chapter is prohibited with effect from 01.01.2012. In addition, with effect from 01.01.2003 no cages such as referred to in this chapter may be built or brought into service for the first time".


Chapter III


Provisions applicable to rearing in enriched cages


Article 6


The member states shall ensure that after (first January 2002) all the cages referred to in this chapter comply at least with the following requirements:


  1. Laying hens must have:


    At least 750cm2 of cage area per hen, 600cm2 of which it shall be usable, the height of the cage other than that above the the usable area shall be at least 20cm at every point and no cage shall have a total area that is less than 2000cm2;

    A nest;

    Litter such that pecking and scratching are possible;

    Appropriate perches allowing at least 15 cm per hen;


  2. feed trough which may be used without restriction must be provided. Its length must be at least 12cm multiplied by the number of birds in the cage;

  3. Each cage must have a drinking a system appropriate to the size of the group; where nipple drinkers are provided, each hen must have access to at least two nipple drinkers or two cups;

  4. To facilitate inspection, installation and the depopulation of birds there must be a minimum aisle width of 90cm between tiers of cages and a space of at least 35cm must be allowed between the floor of the building and the bottom tier of cages;

  5. Cages must be fitted with suitable claw shortening devices.


Chapter IV

Final Provisions

Article 7

"Member states shall ensure that the establishment covered by the scope of this Directive are registered by the competent authority and given a distinguishing number which will be the medium for tracing eggs placed on the market for human consumption. The arrangements for implementing this article shall be determined before first January 2002 in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article II".

Article 8

1. Member States shall take the necessary measures to ensure that the competent authorities carries out inspections to monitor compliance with the provisions of this Directive. These inspections may be carried out on the occasion of checks are made for other purposes.

2. From a date to be determined in accordance with the procedure laid down in paragraph 3, Member States shall report to the Commission on the inspections carried out in accordance with paragraph 1. The Commission shall submit summaries of these reports to the standing the tin and eerie committee.

3. By (1st January 2002) the Commission shall, in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article II, submit proposals for a harmonisation of the following:

  1. the inspections required pursuant to paragraph 1;
  2. the form and content of the report referred to in paragraph 2 and the frequency with which they are to be submitted

Article 9

1.Whenever uniform application of the requirements of this Directive renders it necessary, veterinary experts from the Commission may, in conjunction with the competent authorities:

  1. Verify that the member states are complying with the said requirements;

  2. Make a on the spot checks to insure that the inspections are carried out in accordance with this Directive.

2. A Member State in whose territory and inspection is made shall provide the veterinary experts from the Commission with any assistance they may require for the performance of their tasks. The outcome of the checks must be discussed with the competent authority of the Member State concerned before a final report is drawn up and circulated.

3. The competent authority of the Member State concerned shall take any measures which may prove necessary to take account of the results of the check.

4. Detailed rules for the application of this article shall be adopted, if necessary, in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 11.

Article 10

Not later than (1st January 2005) the Commission shall submit to the Council a report drawn up on the basis of an opinion from the Scientific Veterinary Committee, on the various systems of rearing laying hens, and in particular on those covered by this Directive, taking account both of pathological, zootechnical, physiological, and ethological aspects of the various systems and of their health and environmental impact.

That report shall also be drawn up on a the basis of a study of the socio-economic implications of the various systems and their effects on the Union's economic partners.

"In addition, it shall be accompanied by appropriate proposals taking into account the conclusions of the report as well as the results of the W.T.O. negotiations."

The council shall act by a qualified majority on these proposals within 12 months of their submission.

Article 11

1. Where the procedure laid down in this article is to be followed, the matter shall be referred without delay to the Standing Veterinary Committee set up by Decision 68/361/EEC, herein referred to as "the Committee", by its chairman acting either on his own initiative or at the request of a Member State.

2. The representative of the Commission shall submit to the Committee a draft of the measures to be taken. The Committee shall deliver its opinion on the draft within a time limit which the Chairman may lay down according to the urgency of the matter. The opinion shall be delivered by the majority laid down in article 148(2) of the Treaty in the case of decisions which the Council is required to adopt on a proposal from the Commission. The votes of the representatives of the Member States within the Committee shall be weighted in the manner are set out in that Article. The Chairman shall not vote.

3 a. The Commission shall adopt the measures envisaged if they are in accordance with the opinion of the Committee.

b. If the measures envisaged are not in accordance with the opinion of the Committee, or if no opinion is delivered, the Commission shall without delay submit to the Council a proposal relating to the measures to be taken. The Council shall act by qualified majority.

If on the expiry of a period of three months from the date of referral to the Council, the Council has not acted, the Commission shall adopt the proposed measures and implement them immediately, save where the Council has decided against the said measures by a simple majority.

Article 12

Council Directive 88/166/EEC is hereby repealed with effect from (1st January 2003).

Article 13

1. Member states shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions, including any penalties, necessary to comply with this Directive before (first January 2002). They shall forthwith inform the Commission thereof.

When member states adopt these provisions, they shall contain a reference to this Directive or shall be accompanied by such reference on the occasion of their official publication. The methods of making such reference shall be laid down by Member States.

2. The Member States may, while respecting the general rules laid down in the Treaty, maintain or apply within their territories provisions for the protection of laying hens which are more stringent than those envisaged by this Directive. Today shall inform the Commission of any measure taken in that direction.

3. Member States shall communicate to the Commission the text of the main provisions of national law which they adopt in the field covered by this Directive.

Article 14

This Directive shall enter into force on the day of its publication in the official journal of the European Committees.

Article 15

This Directive is addressed to the member states.

Done at Brussels

For the Council

The President


Annex to the Directive

In addition to the relevant provisions of the annex to Directive 98/58/EC, the following requirements apply:

1. All birds must be inspected by the owner or the person responsible for the birds at least once a day.

2. The sound level shall be minimised. Constant or sudden noise a shall be avoided. Ventilation fans, feeding machinery or other equipment shall be constructed, placed, operated and maintained in a such a way that they cause the least possible noise.

3. All buildings shall have light levels sufficient to allow all birds to see one another and be seen clearly, to investigate their surroundings visually and to show normal levels of activity. Where there is a natural light, light apertures must be arranged in a such a way that light is distributed evenly within the accommodation.

After the first days of conditioning, the lighting regime shall be such as to prevent health and behavioural problems. Accordingly it must follow a 24 hour rhythm and include an adequate uninterrupted period of darkness lasting, by way of indication, about one third of the day, so that the birds may rest and to avoid problems such as immunodepression and ocular anomalies. A period of twilight of a sufficient duration ought to be provided when the light is dimmed so that the birds may settle down without disturbance or injury.

4. Those parts of buildings, equipment or utensils which are in contact with the birds shall be thoroughly cleansed and disinfected regularly and in any case every time a depopulation is carried out and before a new batch of poultry is brought in. While the cages are occupied, the surfaces and all equipment shall be kept satisfactorily clean.

Droppings must be removed as often as necessary and the dead birds must be removed every day.

5. Cages must be suitably equipped to prevent birds escaping

6. Accommodation comprising the two or more tiers of cages must have devices or appropriate measures must be taken to allow inspection of all tiers without difficulty and facilitate the removal of hens

7. The design and dimensions of the cage door must be such that an adult hen can be removed without undergoing unnecessary suffering or sustaining injury.

8. Without prejudice to the provisions of point 19 of the Annex to Directive 98/58/EC, all mutilation shall be prohibited.

In order to prevent feather pecking and cannibalism, however, the Member States may authorise beak trimming provided it is carried out by qualified staff on chickens that are less than 10 days old and intending for laying.


Statements to be entered in the minutes

The council requests the Commission to:

  1. Bring forward a proposal in accordance with the provisions of article 5 of the Directive 98/58/EC with a view to setting Community standards applicable to the rearing of breeding hens;
  2. Submit a proposal adapting the marketing standards applicable to eggs provided for in Regulation (EEC) No 1274/90 to the new provisions laid down in this Directive, taking into consideration in particular the possibility of introducing compulsory labelling
  3. Take into consideration also the requirements of Article 4 when defining, in the framework of Commission Regulation (EEC) No 1274/91, the criteria for the type of rearing known as "deep litter"

Further to the requests from certain delegations that the cost of investments ensuing from these new standards be eligible for Community financing, the Council notes that under the new Agenda 2000 rules for financing it will be for the Member States to set the priorities in their structural programmes.