Endeavour to minimise live animal transport by replacing the transport of live animals for slaughter with the trade of meat and carcasses
Each year, 1 billion poultry and 42 million sheep, goats, horses, pigs and bovines are transported within the EU and to third countries, most of them for slaughter. Live transport raises significant animal welfare concerns as animals are often exposed to thirst, hunger, excessive heat, exhaustion, lack of space or rest. Live animal transport can also pose severe risks for public health by contributing to the spreading of diseases. Prioritising the transport of meat and carcasses would have a major impact to decrease animal suffering, while maintaining the trade.
Promote a swift phase out of the use of all cages for the rearing and keeping of farmed animals
Up to 700 million farm animals, including hens, quail, rabbits, sows and ducks, are being confined in cages on EU farms each year. Many of them are kept in cages for all or most of their lives. Caged animals are severely restricted in their movement and prevented from performing basic natural behaviours, with a detrimental impact on their health and welfare. The use of cages should therefore be banned and accompanied by the promotion of higher welfare farming systems.
Support a revision of the Broiler Directive to substantially improve the welfare of broiler chickens
Industrial broiler chicken production is predominant with seven billions broilers reared in the EU. This production system brings major welfare concerns resulting from the selection of breeds for fast growth, high stocking density, a lack of natural light, enrichment, or opportunities to display natural behaviour. Only minimum protection standards are contained in the Broiler Directive which urgently needs revision for welfare, environmental and public health reasons. Improvements were recently requested by the Parliament’s plenary.
Ensure that farm animal welfare will be made a priority in the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy
Only 1.54% of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) budget is currently spent on animal welfare measures. Making animal welfare a priority in the implementation of the CAP is critical to respond to European citizens’ expectations, as 82% of them believe farm animals should be better protected than they are now (Eurobarometer 2016).
End the practice of force-feeding of ducks and geese used for foie gras production
Foie gras production currently requires the forced feeding of ducks and geese. This fatty liver condition impairs liver function and makes it difficult for the birds to breathe. Besides being painful, the forced-feeding procedure requires the close confinement of ducks (mostly in individual cages) as they try to avoid the force-feeding otherwise. In addition, foie gras production leads to the killing of millions of female ducklings because only male ducks can be used. 23 EU member states do not force-feed birds and alternatives to force feeding exist. Adjusting marketing standards for ‘foie gras’ is needed to allow such alternatives to compete on equal footing.
Ensure all animals are always effectively stunned prior to slaughter
The EU Slaughter Regulation sets minimum standards for the protection of animals at the time of slaughter. Stunning before slaughter is compulsory but derogations are in place for cultural or religious reasons. Without stunning, the animals can remain conscious and severely suffer for several minutes which many stakeholders such as the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe consistently condemn. Reversible stunning would be compatible with slaughter carried out according to religious prescriptions, while offering relief for the animals.
Support the introduction of new rules to safeguard the welfare of fish particularly at the time of slaughter and during transport
The number of farmed fish outnumbers by far that of all other sentient animals farmed for food. Fishes’ welfare needs are currently not addressed specifically by EU legislation, despite the scientific consensus since 2003 that fish are sentient. The introduction of new EU rules are necessary to safeguard the basic welfare requirements of fish.