Fewer cases of neglect in production animals; greatest number of failings in the case of animals reared for fur as well broiler chickens


<p>According to a report compiled by the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira, fewer cases of violation of animal welfare regulations were detected in 2012 in systematic animal welfare inspections on farms with production animals than was the case in the previous year. Broilers and fur animals were the object of more neglect than all other production animals on average. Emergency measures due to neglect were necessary only on one cattle farm.</p>

Systematic, sample-based animal welfare inspections were carried out on a total of 493 farms with production animals.

“Activities violating animal welfare regulations were found on one in four of the inspected farms. This is slightly less than in the previous year. There were distinct differences in the inspection results from species to species, but in the case of all animal groups the inspection outcome either improved or remained at the previous year’s level. Generally the defects detected were the same as the previous year’s,” says Taina Mikkonen, Divisional Manager at the Finnish Food Safety Agency Evira.

Broilers and fur animals were found to be subject to more neglect than all production animals on average. Of the 57 broiler farms inspected 37 per cent presented with failings. Similarly, the number of failings noted on fur farms remained at the previous year’s relatively high level of 54 per cent of inspected farms.

Improvements in the case of cattle, poultry and sheep

The treatment of bovine animals and sheep had improved considerably and failings were noted only on three battery hen farms. Failings were found on 22 per cent of the inspected cattle farms (288 in total). Activity in violation of animal welfare regulations was noted on 24 per cent of the inspected pig farms. This represents about the same level as in the previous year.

“It is very encouraging that the most common form of neglect that was noted on pig farms in previous years, i.e. lack of foraging and rooting material, was now found on only one farm. One defect was found on a single goat farm, but on duck and goose farms no defects were found at all,” says Ms Mikkonen.

Failings requiring immediate action to protect the safety of the animals were found on one cattle farm.

Systematic enhancement of control

The problems affecting certain species of animals, which were detected in animal welfare inspections conducted in 2012, were mostly the same ones as in previous years. However, results have been achieved through monitoring and guidance, because in the early years of this century failings were noted annually in animal keeping on more than one third of the inspected farms.

Monitoring has been enhanced, especially in recent years. The year 2012 was the third one in which inspections were the responsibility of, not the provincial veterinarian, but rather a municipal veterinary surgeon of the Regional State Administrative Agency, specialising in control inspections. Furthermore, in recent years risk-based control has been systematically developed.

Random sampling and risk-based control

Systematic animal welfare control on farms - based on sampling - commenced in Finland in 1998. The control covers compliance with all the national legislation governing animal welfare. In Finland one in four of the farms targeted for control are selected randomly, while the rest are chosen for inspection on the basis of risk, with certain weightings determined by the animal species.

Farms rearing calves and pigs were the first targets of control. Each year, the inspections cover additional new animal species. In 2012 the control covered more than nine different animal species or groups, the latest newcomer being broiler chickens.

The European Union obliges its Member States to inspect annually a representative proportion of the country’s farms with production animals. In 2012, mandatory inspections covered approximately 1.5 per cent of the all cattle farms in Finland, 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, 7 per cent of fur farms and over 30 per cent of broiler farms. A greater number of broiler farms were inspected than other types of farms with production animals, because the EU requires that all broiler farms be inspected by the end of 2013.

Further information on the subject:
Evira.fi > Animals > Animal welfare > Animal welfare control > Animal welfare inspections based on sampling > Animal welfare inspections based on sampling 2012

Further information:
Taina Mikkonen, Divisional Manager,  tel. +358 40 830 8404 
Jaana Mikkola, Head of Unit, tel. +358 40 831 8425

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