The concept of a 'good life' recognises the distinction that an animal's quality of life is beyond that of a 'life worth living', representing a standard of welfare substantially higher than the legal minimum (FAWC, 2009). We propose that the opportunities required for a 'good life' could be used to structure resource tiers that lead to positive welfare and are compatible with higher welfare farm assurance schemes. Published evidence and expert opinion was used to define three tiers of resource provision (Welfare +, Welfare ++ and Welfare +++) above those stipulated in UK legislation and codes of practice, which should lead to positive welfare outcomes. In this paper we describe the principles underpinning the framework and the process of developing the resource tiers for laying hens. In doing so, we summarise expert opinion on resources required to achieve a 'good life' in laying hens and OPEN ACCESS Animals 2013, 3 585 discuss the philosophical and practical challenges of developing the framework. We present the results of a pilot study to establish the validity, reliability and feasibility of the draft laying hen tiers on laying hen production systems. Finally, we propose a generic welfare assessment framework for farm animals and suggest directions for implementation, alongside outcome parameters, that can help define and promote a future 'good life' for farm animals.