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The Animal Welfare Act and when to call a vet.

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Under the Animal Welfare Act 2006, anyone who owns or cares for an animal has the legal responsibility to ensure that they meet the 5 basic welfare needs of the animal. These are also known as the Five Freedoms.

Freedom from hunger and thirst

By providing enough fresh water and the right type and amount of food to keep them fit.

Freedom from discomfort

By making sure that animals have the right type of environment including shelter and somewhere comfortable to rest.

Freedom from pain, injury and disease

By preventing them from getting ill or injured and by making sure animals are diagnosed and treated rapidly if they do.

Freedom to express normal behaviour

By making sure animals have enough space, proper facilities and the company of other animals of their own kind.

Freedom from fear and distress

By making sure their conditions and treatment avoid mental suffering.


Please remember that it is your responsibility as the owner to seek veterinary advice and to give appropriate treatment if your hen is ill. In certain emergencies, it is in the hen’s best interests to be culled immediately.


The opinions and advice on this forum are freely given, and with the best of intentions, but are not those of professionals, therefore they do not constitute a diagnosis or replace the expert opinion of a vet.


Also, there are certain situations when home remedies will not suffice, ie if the hen is emaciated and anorexic, is paralysed or is coughing and has runny eyes and nose. It is recommended that veterinary advice is sought in these cases.


It is not legally acceptable, nor is it humane to leave a sick hen undiagnosed for days to see if it will perk up.


Neither is it legally acceptable or humane to leave a moribund hen to slip away, untreated.


If in doubt, please see the Animal Welfare Act. Linked above.

Further information here


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