Freedom Foods Ltd is a wholly owned subsidiary of the RSPCA. It has been formed to implement and monitor the RSPCA approved humane rearing and handling standards.

The standards are based on the FAWC "Five Freedoms"

Freedom from hunger or thirst: Diet must be satisfying, appropriate and safe. Growth promoting hormones are not permitted. Bullying and competition during feeding are prevented by specifying generous feeding and drinking space allowances. The animals must have continuous access to clean, fresh water
Freedom from discomfort: A clean, dry, comfortable bedded lying area and plenty of space to move around must be provided, as well as shelter to protect them from the weather.
Freedom from pain, injury or disease: Animals must be protected from injury and from elements that may cause pain or ill health. Their environment must be well managed to promote good health and they must receive swift veterinary attention when ever necessary.
Freedom to express normal behaviour: The behavioural needs of animas must be met. For example laying hens need to flap their wings, nest preen, perch and dust-bathe.
Freedom from fear and distress: All who manage and handle livestock need to understand the basics of animal behaviour, in order to avoid stress to animals, particularly when they are being moved, loaded or unloaded. Mixing different social groups, ages and sexes of animals can also be very stressful and even result in injury. Freedom Foods requires that this risk is minimised.

Although these "Freedoms" define ideal states, they provide a comprehensive framework for the assessment of the welfare of an animal, whether on farm, in transit, or at a place of slaughter.

The stocking rate should not exceed 7 birds per M2 of floor plan area of the house. In a house with a perching/roosting area over a droppings pit the maximum stocking density can be up to 11.7 birds per M2
Nest boxes to be provided at not less than 1 per 5 /hens or 1 M2 of nest box area per 120 birds. Nest boxes must be provided with a floor substrate which encourages nesting behaviour
A checklist must be displayed on each building, at or near the entrance which must include: The total floor area available to the birds; Total number of Birds: Total number of drinkers and feeders; Target Air quality parameters; lighting levels and regimes; Emergency procedures in the case of fire, flood, automatic system failure and temperature above and below acceptable limits
Perching must be provided at not less than 15cm per bird. Perches must be spaced at 30 cm or more. Perch space of 460 sq cm per bird must be provided on slatted or mesh floored areas.
An area of litter must comprise at least 33 per cent of the floor area. Litter must be maintained to a depth of 10cm
Pop-holes must be provided. 450mm x 2M and 1 pop-hole per 600 birds in large houses. For smaller movable houses a practical view is taken. Pop-hole size and quantity is likely to be amended
For winter conditions, a shelter must be accessible to the birds which is of sufficient size to accommodate all hens and which provides sufficient protection from wind, rain and snow. For summer conditions, a shaded area must be accessible to the birds which has sufficient space so that the birds do not have to crowd together. Hens in Free Range systems must be provided with overhead cover to reduce fear reactions from overhead predators.
Outside dust bathing areas must be provided with suitable litter.
Any automatic ventilation, water, feed etc system must be fitted with warning devices.



Extracted from Revision 11 Nov 1997 pp71,72

These requirements generally work on a recommendation of best practice and a permitted upper limit.

General Standards

Stocking should not exceed 250 birds per acre
Pasture rested for 1 year in 3 unless densities are low enough to prevent damage and avoid disease build up
Birds/Colonies/Flocks should be provided with protection from predators and have access to shelter. Houses should provide sufficient space for them to move around freely, and there should be litter to scratch in.


Permanent housing of poultry

Recommended Colony sizes

100 laying or 200 fattening birds per housing group

Permitted Colony sizes

500 birds per housing group
Housing should be disinfected between batches with idoform, steam, blow torch or lime depending on the construction of the house
Litter must be regularly replenished and kept in a dry and friable condition.

Standards relating specifically to Laying Birds

Artificial lighting must not prolong the day length beyond 16 hours

Recommended Housing

Housing designed for a maximum of 15kg (live weight of birds)/M2 of floor area
20cm perch space per bird
1 nest space per 5 birds

Permitted Housing

Fixed houses may have slatted floor with collection area for droppings and/or solid floor with litter
Houses moved twice a week may have slatted floors with no droppings boards
Housing designed for a maximum of 25kg (live weight of birds)/M2 of floor area
15cm perch space per bird
1 nest box per 8 birds
They must be supplemented with additional shelter against wind and rain.
Housing densities in excess of 25kg (live weight of birds) or 12 birds per M2 floor area

Standards relating specifically to Fattening Birds

Recommended Housing

Housing designed for a maximum of:

18kg (live weight mature birds)/sqM floor area
75% of floor area littered
25% area as a raised slatted or weld mesh roosting area with enclosed droppings collection area below

Permitted Housing

Housing designed for a maximum of 25kg (live weight mature birds) or 12 birds/M2 floor area with all the area littered.


Buildings with all wire or slatted floors.
Housing densities in excess of 25kg (live weight mature birds) or 12 birds/M2 floor area



Lion Quality eggs come from hens that have been vaccinated against salmonella

A 'passport' system for Lion Quality egg flocks means that all Lion Quality eggs are completely traceable

All Lion Quality eggs are packed, stored and transported under temperature controlled conditions which ensure quality and freshness

Lion Quality eggs are marked with a 'best before' date on the pack and on the eggs themselves 21 days after lay, meaning they are fresher than required by law.


For Barn Eggs


maximun flock size of 32,000 birds divided into colonies of 4,000 where flock size is over 6,000 birds in total

maximum stocking density in-house of 11.7 birds/sq.m for part litter and slat systems and 15.5 birds/sq.m in multi-tier systems

scratching area for dust bathing

5cm linear length or 4cm circular feeding and drinking space per hen.

For Free Range

The Lion Code of Practice stipulates the same additional standards for Lion free range eggs as for Lion barn eggs plus provision of outdoor shading in absence of a veranda and one pop-hole per 600 birds open for 8 hours daily to allow access to the outside.