Poultry meat marketing standards from 1 January 2021

Guide

Last updated 4 March 2021

You must follow poultry meat marketing standards and guidance on importing and exporting live animals or animal products.

Exporting poultry meat from Great Britain (GB) to the EU

If you export poultry meat from GB (England, Scotland and Wales) to the EU, you’ll need to follow third country import requirements (PDF, 772KB) in the EU marketing standards regulations.

Exports from GB bearing one or more farming or chilling method marks (optional indications) must have a poultry meat optional indications certificate from a GB competent authority.

The European Commission has granted third country listing to the UK competent authorities for the issuing of poultry meat optional indications certificates.

You'll also need to get an export health certificate.

Check if you need a poultry meat optional indications certificate

You must make sure that each consignment is accompanied by a poultry meat optional indications certificate issued by a GB competent authority if you either:

  • export poultry meat with one or more optional indications (chilling or farming method marks) from Great Britain to the EU
  • move poultry meat with one or more optional indications from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

From 1 January 2022, you’ll need an optional indications certificate from an EU competent authority to import poultry meat with one or more optional indications from the EU to Great Britain.

Chilling method marks are:

  • air-chilling
  • air-spray chilling
  • immersion chilling

Farming method marks are also referred to as special marketing terms (SMT).

They are:

  • fed with … % …
  • oats-fed goose
  • extensive indoor or barn-reared
  • free range
  • traditional free range
  • free range total freedom

Fed with … % of …

The feed formula given to poultry during the fattening period must contain at least 65% of cereals (in weight). It must not contain more than 15% of cereal by-products.

If you use one specific cereal, it must account for at least 35% of the feed formula used. If maize is used in the cereal, it must account for 50% of the feed formula.

The feed formula provided during the fattening period must contain at least 5% of pulses or green vegetables.

It must also include at least 5% of dairy products during the finishing stage.

Oats-fed geese

Geese that are fed at least 500g of oats per day during the finishing stage of 3 weeks are referred to as ‘oats-fed’.

Extensive indoor or barn-reared

For poultry to be ‘extensive indoor’ or ‘barn-reared’, the stocking rate per square metre of floor space must not exceed:

  • for chickens - 15 birds and a live weight of 25kg or less
  • for ducks, guinea fowl and turkeys - a live weight of 25kg or less
  • for geese - a live weight of 15kg or less

The age of slaughter must be:

  • for chickens - 56 days or later
  • for turkeys - 70 days or later
  • for geese - 112 days or later
  • for Peking ducks - 49 days or later
  • for Muscovy ducks - 70 days or later for females and 84 days or later for males
  • for female Mulard ducks - 65 days or later
  • for guinea fowl - 82 days or later
  • for young geese or goslings - 60 days or later
  • for young cocks - 90 days or later
  • for capons - 140 days or later

Free range

For poultry to be ‘free range’, the stocking rate in the house and the age at slaughter must follow the same requirements as for extensive indoor or barn-reared poultry.

There are exceptions for:

  • chickens - the stocking rate may be decreased to 13 and the live weight per square metre must be 27.5kg or less
  • capons - the stocking rate can be 7.5 birds per square metre or less and the live weight 27.5kg per square metre or less

You can also use the term ‘free range’ to refer to birds that have had continuous daytime access to open-air runs that are covered by certain amounts of vegetation:

  • one square metre per chicken or guinea fowl
  • 2 square metres per duck or per capon
  • 4 square metres per turkey or goose

The birds must have had access to these areas for at least half of their lifetime.

You can replace open-air runs for guinea fowl with a perchery (barn where they can move without restriction).

It must have:

  • floor space that’s at least as large as a house
  • a height of at least 2 metres
  • perches that allow each bird at least 10cm of space (house and perchery)

The feed formula given to free range poultry during the fattening period must contain at least 70% of cereals.

The poultry house must have pop holes of a combined length that’s at least equal to 4 metres per 100 square metres of the house’s floor space.

Traditional free range

For poultry to be ‘traditional free range’, the indoor stocking rate per square metre of floor space must not exceed:

  • for chickens - 12 and a live weight of 25kg or less, but in mobile houses that do not have more than 150 square metres of floor space and remain open at night, the stocking rate may be increased to 20 and a live weight of 40kg or less per square metre
  • for capons - 6.25 after 92 days of age, 12 up to 91 days of age and a live weight of 25kg or less
  • for Muscovy and Peking ducks - 8 males and a live weight of 35kg or less, 10 females and a live weight of 25kg or less
  • for Mulard ducks - 8 and a live weight of 35kg or less
  • for guinea fowl - 13 and a live weight of 25kg or less
  • for turkeys - 6.25 for birds over 7 weeks of age, 10 for up to 7 weeks of age and a live weight of 35kg or less
  • for geese - 5 for birds over 6 weeks of age, 10 for up to 6 weeks of age, 3 during the last 3 weeks of fattening if they’re kept in claustration, and a live weight of 30kg or less

The total usable area of poultry houses at any single production site must not exceed 1,600 square metres.

Each poultry house must not contain more than:

  • 4,800 chickens
  • 5,200 guinea fowl
  • 4,000 female Muscovy or Peking ducks, 3,200 male Muscovy ducks or 3,200 Mulard ducks
  • 2,500 capons, geese and turkeys

The poultry house must have pop holes of a combined length that’s at least equal to 4 metres per 100 square metres of the house’s floor space.

There must be continuous daytime access to open-air runs from the age of:

  • 6 weeks (for chickens and capons)
  • 8 weeks (for ducks, geese, guinea fowl and turkeys)

Open-air runs need to include an area that’s mainly covered by vegetation amounting to at least:

  • 2 square metres per chicken, Muscovy duck, Peking duck or guinea fowl
  • 3 square metres per Mulard duck
  • 4 square metres per capon from 92 days old (each capon needs at least 2 square metres up to its 91st day)
  • 6 square metres per turkey
  • 10 square metres per goose

You can replace open-air runs for guinea fowl with a perchery (barn where they can move without restriction).

It must have:

  • floor space that’s at least as large as a house
  • a height of at least 2 metres
  • perches that allow each bird at least 10cm of space (house and perchery)

The birds that are fattened must be a strain that are recognised as slow growing.

The feed formula given to traditional free range poultry during the fattening stage must contain at least 70% of cereals.

The minimum age at slaughter is:

  • 81 days for chickens
  • 150 days for capons
  • 49 days for Peking ducks
  • 70 days for female Muscovy ducks
  • 84 days for male Muscovy ducks
  • 92 days for Mulard ducks
  • 94 days for guinea fowl
  • 140 days for turkeys and geese marketed whole for roasting
  • 98 days for female turkeys intended for cutting up
  • 126 days for female turkeys intended for cutting up
  • 95 days for geese intended for the production of foie gras and ‘magret’
  • 60 days for young geese (goslings)

The finishing stage in confinement must not exceed:

  • for chickens - 15 days (after 90 days of age)
  • for capons - 4 weeks
  • for geese and mulard ducks intended for the production of foie gras and magret - 4 weeks (after 70 days of age)

Free range total freedom

For poultry to be classified as ‘free range total freedom’, it must meet the same criteria as ‘traditional free range’ poultry. The birds must also have continuous daytime access to open-air runs of unlimited area.

There must be no deliberate or obvious obstacle to where birds could range (for example, a fence). Enforcement officers will be pragmatic when inspecting businesses.

When you do not need an optional indications certificate

You do not need an optional indications certificate if you:

  • export poultry meat with one or more optional indications from Northern Ireland to the EU
  • import poultry meat with one or more optional indications from the EU to Northern Ireland
  • move poultry meat with one or more optional indications from Northern Ireland to Great Britain

Poultry meat imports from non-EU countries to Great Britain

If you wish to import poultry meat labelled with optional indications into Great Britain, you must make sure that a certificate signed by the competent authority of the country of origin accompanies your consignments.

The certificate must state that the consignment complies with the Poultrymeat Marketing Standards Regulations in force in Great Britain.

Poultry meat exports from Great Britain to non-EU countries

Poultry meat with optional indications that’s exported to non-EU countries may need to comply with different regulations for:

  • quality
  • marking
  • labelling

You should check the import requirements of the country you’re exporting to.

You do not need an optional indications certificate for exports travelling from Great Britain to non-EU countries via the EU, unless your destination country requires one.

Applying for an optional indications certificate

If you’re exporting or moving poultry meat from England or Wales to the EU or Northern Ireland, apply for an optional indications certificate:

  1. Download and complete the optional indications certificate application form.
  2. Send your completed form to CSCOneHealthPoultryMeatMarketing@apha.gov.uk.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) will verify the information on your application with relevant inspection bodies. Once verified, Defra will email the certificate to you. It’s the exporter’s responsibility to ensure it accompanies the consignment.

You should include ‘Uses optional indications’ in:

  • Box I.18 (Description of commodity) on Poultry Export Health Certificate 8296
  • Box I.27 (Description of consignment) on Poultry Export Health Certificate 8371

If you’re exporting or moving poultry meat from Scotland to the EU or Northern Ireland, email LivestockPoultry@gov.scot to apply for an optional indications certificate.

Checks and controls for products entering the EU from Great Britain

There may be more customs checks carried out on your products. Poultry meat, along with all products of animal origin, should enter the EU through a border control post (BCP). BCPs were previously known as border inspection posts (BIPs).

Find details of the most used BCPs in the EU:

For more information, see guidance on importing and exporting live animals or animal products.

Checks and controls for products entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain

All products of animal origin from Great Britain (including poultry meat) should enter Northern Ireland through designated points of entry.

For more information, read guidance on moving goods into, out of, or through Northern Ireland.

Moving food from Great Britain to Northern Ireland: rules for authorised traders

An arrangement is in place which allows authorised traders such as supermarkets and their trusted suppliers to move some goods without the need for official certification.

If you’re moving products of animal origin from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, you do not need official certification, such as export health certificates, phytosanitary certificates or marketing standards certification.

The government is not discriminating against smaller suppliers or between different companies in implementing these practical measures.

The following conditions are attached to these arrangements:

  • the goods are packaged for end consumers and they bear a label reading ‘These products from the United Kingdom may not be marketed outside Northern Ireland’
  • they’re destined solely for sale to end consumers in supermarkets located in Northern Ireland, and they cannot be sold to other operators of the food chain
  • they’re accompanied by a simplified official certificate globally stating the products meet all the import requirements of EU legislation
  • they enter Northern Ireland through a designated point of entry, where they are submitted to a systematic documentary check and to a risk-based identity check on a selection of items in the means of transport
  • they’re monitored through a channelling procedure applicable from the designated point of entry to the destination supermarket in Northern Ireland

Labelling poultry meat produced in Northern Ireland

You need to mark poultry meat consignments with the UK’s oval health and identification marks and meet country of origin labelling requirements.

For more information, read the Food Standard Agency’s guidance on health and identification marks.

Rejected goods

If the poultry meat consignment you’re exporting from Great Britain to the EU is rejected at the EU border, you may be able to return the goods to Great Britain. Your consignment must meet GB poultry meat marketing standard requirements before it can enter GB free circulation (declared and customs duties paid).

You do not need to provide documentary evidence but goods are subject to random checks in free circulation.

If you need help

Contact poultry.mailbox@defra.gov.uk if you have any queries about importing and exporting poultry meat.

You’ll receive a response within 5 working days.

First published 7 December 2020