Husbandry conditions of eight different production animal species controlled in EU animal welfare inspections in 2009


<p>An EU animal welfare inspection was in 2009 conducted in a total of 561 production farms with the husbandry conditions of more than 360000 animals controlled. Severe negligence calling for urgent action to safeguard the wellbeing of the animals was found in two farms. All in all violations against the animal welfare regulations were reported in ca. 19% of the farms, which is slightly less than in 2008, when 22% of the farms failed to fulfil animal welfare requirements in all respects.</p>

Sheep and goat farms were included in the scope of EU animal welfare inspections for the first time and violations were found in about every third inspection. This is clearly more than for other species. Severe negligence in the husbandry conditions of calves came up in two cattle farms, resulting in emergency action to safeguard the wellbeing of the animals. All in all, however, a turn for the better took place in calf farms, as the share of violations decreased by as much as nine percent over 2008.

In 2009, 752 farms were ordered to be inspected, representing about 1.5 percent of calf farms, 3 percent of pig farms, 7 percent of laying farms, ca. 7 percent of duck and goose farms, 2 percent of sheep and goat farms and 5 percent of fur farms. This time an exceptionally high number of farms (12 percent) had no animals on the premises at the time of the inspection. This reduced the number of realised inspections over the previous years.

The member states of the EU control the compliance with the minimum welfare requirements for production animals by conducting every year inspections on a representative number of production farms. Some of the farms are selected on a random basis, others on the basis of certain risk factors defined for the different species. The inspections were in 2009 conducted by municipal veterinarians under order of the provincial governments. As of the year 2010 the responsibility for the EU animal welfare inspections rests with the 15 new provincial veterinarians employed by the Regional State Administrative Agencies.

The purpose is to conduct a detailed inspection of compliance with valid animal welfare regulations. If violations are found in the inspections, the producer is ordered to rectify the violation within a certain time, after which the farm is inspected again. Violations can be related to deficient records, shortage of stimulation materials, structural inadequacies in the housing of the animals or an excessive number of animals for the space available, for example. If necessary, urgent action is taken to ensure the wellbeing of the animals; this may include providing feed and water to the animals or a carer in the farm or transferring the animals elsewhere for care. If the care of the animals cannot be organised or is considered to be pointless, the animals can be destroyed or sent for slaughter.

EU animal welfare inspections started in 1998, first in calf and pig farms. Fur farms and laying farms with more than 350 hens have been inspected since 2000. In 2008 – 2009 the scope of the inspections was extended to cover also duck and goose farms as well as sheep and goat farms. This year also adult cows will be inspected, in addition to calves, and the inspections of broiler chickens will start in 2011. In the future, EU animal welfare inspections will be conducted also on other production animal species.

For more information, please contact:
Taina Mikkonen, Section Head, tel. +358 (0) 40 8308404
Sanna Varjus, Senior Officer, tel. +358 (0) 40 4893355


Related Categories: