In the barn system hens are able to move freely around the house. The EU Welfare of Laying Hens Directive stipulates a maximum stocking density of 9 hens per square metre of useable area. Perches for the hens must be installed to allow 15 centimetres of perch per hen. Litter must account for one third of the ground surface. This is used for scratching and dust bathing.
One nest box per five hens or communal nests, at the rate of 120 birds/m² of floor area, is provided. Linear feeders provide at least 10 cm per hen, or circular feeders provide at least 4 cm per hen. There is also plenty of drinking space per hen. Water and feeding troughs are raised so that the specially prepared food is not scattered. Electric lighting is provided to give an optimum day length throughout the year. At the end of the laying period the house is completely cleaned and disinfected.
Additional requirements of the Lion code
In consultation with retailers and animal welfare groups, a new higher hen welfare standard for British Lion barn eggs was introduced in November 2019.
The new Lion standard prohibits the use of highly intensive systems, such as the combination system, and consists of a raft of measures which are above those legally required. These include a maximum floor stocking density of 16.5 birds per m2, two enrichments per 1,000 birds, a maximum colony size of 6,000 birds and superior nest boxes to encourage nesting.
The new standards apply to all converted and newly built barn units, with a derogation for existing units until 31st December 2025.
For full differences please see attached table.