Animal By-Product Regulations.

Dead birds, eggs and even egg shells are classed as animal by-products. Dead chicks (used to feed snakes or birds of prey) also come under this regulation.

You are not allowed to bury or burn these any more (in case they get into the food chain via the water table) so if you have an ‘animal by-product’ then it should be disposed of via an official incinerator or via the Council waste collection if permitted.

The regulations vary from Council to Council but many allow animal by-products to be double wrapped in plastic and disposed of in the domestic waste bin, which is a viable alternative for most of us.

Feeding Chickens Mealworms

Many chicken keepers use meal worms as treats for chickens in order to tame them. According to animal by-product regulations, this is not allowed.

This website received a comment from the Government’s Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency which I have reproduced below to provide the information in full:

EU animal by-products and TSE regulations mean that meal worms should not be fed to poultry.

Dried crustaceans, such as river shrimps and dried terrestrial invertebrates, such as mealworms, are usually imported into UK in accordance with Annex XIV, Chapter IV, Section 2 of Regulation (EU) No 142/2011, “the competent authority may authorise the importation of certain materials for purposes other than feeding to farmed land animals (except for feeding to fur animals) provided there is no unacceptable risk for the transmission of diseases communicable to humans or animals”.

A summary of the EU ABP & TSE legislation relating to this is as follows:

• Terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates imported in this way are not considered to be processed animal protein (PAP), as they have not been processed in accordance with the Animal By-Product (ABP) Regulations.

• Terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates cannot be imported as feed for poultry under provisions in the ABP Regulations, which prevent the import of certain materials, including invertebrates, for feeding to farmed livestock.

• Under Article 31 of Regulation (EC) No. 1069/2009, terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates need to be processed to be used in feed for farmed animals.

• However, if terrestrial invertebrates are processed, in accordance with the ABP Regulations then they do become PAP and are prevented from being fed to poultry under TSE rules.

• Aquatic invertebrates, processed in accordance with the ABP Regulations become fish meal and can be used in feed for poultry under authorisation conditions.

• All poultry, including those kept as ‘pets’ are considered as farmed animals under the Animal By-Product (ABP) Regulations and the Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSE) Regulations.

So although many chicken keepers are feeding meal worms as treats, it’s not really permitted!


  1. I often use crushed up egg shells around my plants to prevent slugs and snails from eating them but after reading about the regulations about animal by-products, I am wondering if I am really allowed to do this.
    Please could you advise me.

    • One of the big ‘problems’ with our chickens is they are classed as livestock so come under rules really written primarily for commercial farms and this does raise an eyebrow from time to time!

      Personally, I wouldn’t worry too much. The rules were put in place because of diseases such as B.S.E. where animal by-products were being fed back to animals to save on feed costs. I doubt a few egg shells on the garden would be a problem, however, technically and according to the animal by product regulation they should be disposed of correctly…. disposed of via your waste collection scheme.

  2. Does this mean I am not allowed to give my hens (who are pets) mealworms? Are the chicken police going to bash down my door if I do? And what about live mealworms that you can buy at any big pet store? Mine are also very partial to maggots from our local fishing tackle shop and I find are helpful to maintain crop health in my older hens

  3. The article states ‘Dried crustaceans, such as river shrimps and dried terrestrial invertebrates, such as mealworms’ It does not mention live mealworms which are produced in the UK, or which you may raise yourself. I think the keyword here is ‘Dried’ as most ‘Dried’ mealworms are imported

  4. I used to keep giant African land snails, and have a lot of cuttlebone left over since they passed away. I was wondering if they were covered by these regs. They’re not farmed or imported, simply collected from shores on the south coast.

    I’ve managed to find plenty of posts and such from Americans who have said they give them to their chickens, so I’m positive they’re safe (although Americans feed chicken litter to cows so their idea of safe is… questionable). They’re not full of salt, as some people have suggested, or else they would have been toxic to the snails, and are unlikely to contain trace amounts of any marine toxins as they are just the “bones” of the cuttlefish (and again would have been toxic to the snails). They should be as safe as oyster shells. It’s just the regulations that I can’t fathom… I also don’t understand why oyster shells are permitted, but plenty of sites sell them for chickens.

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