Under government proposals, animal keepers will be expected to provide a more enriched environment for all pigs, laying hens, and meat chickens to enable them to display more of their natural behaviours such as foraging, helping to ensure more fulfilled and healthier animals.

The user-friendly codes will also provide detailed guidance to animal keepers on how to assess the welfare of their animals, as well as on contingency planning to help ensure the welfare of their animals during any emergencies.

Welfare codes for pigs, laying hens, and meat chickens are being updated to reflect the very latest advice from vets and animal husbandry developments, as part of a programme of reforms to safeguard and enhance the welfare of animals.

Minister for animal welfare, Lord Gardiner, said:

"We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and are going further, including raising maximum sentences for animal cruelty to five years and introducing mandatory CCTV in abattoirs.

"We are carefully consulting with industry experts, and using the most recent scientific and veterinary advice to ensure this clear guidance provides the best advice to owners and keepers to help ensure the high welfare standards of their animals."

The codes will be used by enforcement bodies including Animal and Plant Health Agency inspectors and local authorities when investigating allegations of poor welfare to look at whether animal welfare standards are being met.

A six week consultation began on January 29 where government is seeking views from industry and stakeholders. To give your view visit consult.defra.gov.uk/animal-health-and-welfare and select which area you would like to comment on.

The new guidance is expected to be available later this year.