RSPCA Assured has announced it will be extending the pause for the start date of the new laying hen welfare standards for a total of nine months.

The extended pause follows an announcement in March this year that it would pause the implementation of the standards for three months (from May 2024 to August 2024) but would make no further changes to the new rules.

See also: Latest benchmark report reveals trends in poultry welfare

Members can continue to use the current version of the standards, published in 2017, until 1 February 2025. 

Two of the new standards’ most controversial elements were the requirement that windows be installed in free-range sheds (by 2031) and that barn units install verandas. 

Kelly Grellier, interim chief operations officer at RSPCA Assured, said: “Our members are fundamental in helping us improve hen welfare. 

Extension

“Therefore, ensuring we listen to them and provide proper support to help them meet the new standards is our top priority. 

“To do this effectively, we have to be flexible. Extending the current pause until 2025 will give us more time to talk to more members and offer more support tailored to their specific needs.”

The assurance scheme will also host meetings with members in 2024, as well as draw up case studies to demonstrate the new standards. 

“In addition to case studies and in-person support, we will continue to review how we can improve engagement with members and the industry when developing new standards.” Ms Grellier added.