Animal welfare inspections based on sampling 2011

In 2011, systematic sampling-based animal welfare inspections were carried out on a total of 545 production animal farms. Practices contravening the animal welfare regulations were reported on about 28 per cent of inspected farms, like the year before. However, the inspection results showed clear differences with regard to animal species. In the main, the breaches found were the same as the year before.

The number of breaches found on fur farms remained at a high level (53 per cent) in 2011, although there was a slight drop from the year 2010 (61 per cent). The situation with pigs and laying hens has improved compared to the previous year. Practices contravening the animal welfare regulations were found on 25 per cent of inspected pig farms and 19 per cent of egg-producing farms. Of the 362 cattle farms inspected, breaches were found on 27 per cent, which in turn is a little more than the previous year. On goat farms, the results improved on the year before, as no cases of neglect were found at all, but there were clearly more sheep farms where breaches were found (25 per cent) compared to the year before.

Cases of neglect demanding urgent action in order to ensure animal welfare were found on two cattle farms and one fur-producing farm.

The problems affecting individual animal species found at animal welfare inspections in 2011 were mostly the same as in previous years. More detailed information on these is on the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira website.

Control measures and education have produced results, as in the first half of the 2000s, the annual rate of cases of neglect in animal keeping exceeded 30 per cent of inspected farms. Control and monitoring have indeed been stepped up in recent years. This was the second year when the inspections were carried out by Regional State Administrative Agency provincial veterinary officers who specialise in control measures, instead of municipal veterinary surgeons. In addition, a risk-based approach to monitoring has been effectively developed during recent years.

Inspections based on random sampling based on risks

The European Union obliges the member states to inspect a representative number of their countries’ production animal farms annually. In 2011, about 1.5 per cent of all cattle farms in Finland were designated for inspection, 3 per cent of pig farms, 7 per cent of egg-producing farms, 7 per cent of duck and goose farms, 2 per cent of sheep and goat farms, and 6 per cent of fur-producing farms.

Systematic sampling-based animal welfare inspections on farms were begun in Finland in 1998. These inspections concern the compliance with regulations covering the entire national animal welfare legislation. In Finland, about a quarter of the farms to be monitored are selected for inspection by random sampling, and the rest are selected on the basis of risk and with certain weightings defined for each animal species. The first objects of inspection were calf and pig farms. The inspections have been extended every year to cover new species of production animals, and in 2009 the inspections covered eight species. In 2012, animal welfare inspections have also been started on broiler farms.