The animal welfare of livestock farming is not only questioned in the social discussion, but also from a scientific point of view. Examples are painful procedures such as dehorning, castration and beak trimming, high disease and mortality rates as well as the highly restricted normal behaviour in many husbandry systems.
Changes to existing procedures are often associated with higher costs for the farms. As a result, the tightening of animal protection laws entails the risk that production will migrate to countries with less strict regulations. One measure that is not expected to have negative effects on production is the support for animal-friendly husbandry, in which farmers are compensated for the higher costs or rewarded for their provision of animal welfare. A corresponding market-oriented approach is the labelling of welfare-friendly products.
In order to advise policy makers and administration, we evaluate the effects of existing measures and develop concepts for more effective approaches such as result-oriented animal welfare support. The implementation of the legal framework is also an important aspect of political action, which has been explored in a pilot study.
One important prerequisite for political action, for consumer decisions but also for the evaluation of policy measures and husbandry practices is the availability of suitable information and data. We are therefore actively involved in interdisciplinary projects for the selection of suitable indicators and are working on creating the basis for regular, indicator-based animal welfare monitoring.
In many cases, the costs associated with the transformation of husbandry systems towards an improved animal welfare are not known. This information is important in order to be able to identify those procedures which can achieve better animal welfare at the lowest possible cost. This is an interface between the fields of work "Competitiveness" and "Animal Protection and Animal Welfare".