National Animal Welfare Monitoring (NaTiMon)
The interdisciplinary project "National Animal Welfare Monitoring" aims to develop the basis for reporting on the status quo and the development of animal welfare in livestock farming.
The state of animal welfare in livestock farming is a controversial topic in Germany. Nevertheless, at the federal level, there is still no profound reporting structure established to monitor the current status and long-term progression of animal welfare. In order to change this, the NaTiMon project aims to lay the foundations for such a standardized national animal welfare monitoring. This will not only provide a reliable basis for political decision-makers but will also benefit the practice. Based on the outcomes, livestock farmers can make a qualified assessment of the situation of their farm in comparison to the general livestock population. In addition, consumers can obtain objective information about the state of welfare in German animal farms.
The aim of the overall NaTiMon project is to develop the basis for regular, indicator-based monitoring and reporting structure about the status of animal welfare in livestock farming in Germany. The documentation of the results can also show the development of the animal welfare situation over time. The project is based on a decision of the German Bundestag within the framework of the national livestock strategy and receives approximately three million Euros funding by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The project is supported by a large consortium consisting of: the Thünen Institutes of Farm Economics, Fisheries Ecology and Organic Farming and the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (Department of Fish Diseases and Farming); the Federal Statistical Office of Germany; the Kuratorium für Technik und Bauwesen in der Landwirtschaft; the Friedrich Loeffler Institute for Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare; Kiel University (Institute for Animal Breeding and Animal Husbandry), and the Chair of Animal Husbandry and Poultry Sciences of the Hochschule Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences. The project is supported by the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE). The project will identify meaningful and reliable animal welfare indicators for pigs, cattle, poultry, and aquaculture (rainbow trout and carp) covering the life stages of husbandry, transport, and slaughter.
At Thünen-Institute for Farm Economics (TI-BW), socio-economic indicators are being identified and developed which are the driving forces for positive or negative developments or reactions to animal welfare in livestock farming. Furthermore, the wishes and preferences of the various stakeholders will be examined (stakeholder analysis). To map the costs of monitoring, the survey costs of suitable indicators will be determined for the different animal species. This also involves weighing up the costs and (non-monetary) benefits of individual indicators. The information generated by all subprojects is used to create prototypes for a monitoring report, the preparation of which is being coordinated by TI-BW. Policy recommendations will be derived from the project results, which will concretely implement a future animal welfare monitoring.
At the Thünen Institute of Organic Farming, suitable indicators for recording animal welfare in agricultural practice are being identified for dairy and fattening cattle, reared calves and young livestock, taking into account existing work and a stakeholder analysis. Data already available at the national level, e.g., from the Traceability and Information System for Animals (HIT) or the Milk Performance Test, will be taken into account. For other relevant animal welfare areas, such as lameness or injuries, for which no comprehensive data is currently available, possibilities for standardised recording are being developed (method manuals). These indicators, which have been classified as suitable, will be collected and tested in 30 cattle-rearing farms (cattle fattening farms and dairy and calf farms). The data obtained in practice from this exploratory survey will be processed and evaluated; the indicators will be evaluated in terms of their informative value and suitability for the survey under practical conditions. Subsequently, various prototypes for an animal welfare monitoring report on cattle farming will be developed, the scope of which will vary.
The Thünen-Institute of Fisheries Ecology works in a partnering network with the Department of Fish Diseases and Farming of the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover. The partners collect and evaluate parameters and welfare indicators for rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and common carp (Cyprinus carpio). Rainbow trout and common carp are the most important species in the traditional, pond-based aquaculture in Germany. Despite this long tradition, little is known about the state of animal welfare of the two species, which differ fundamentally both in their biological requirements and in the husbandry systems used for rearing. Within the framework of the project, practical and meaningful parameters and indicators will be selected which can be used for repeated monitoring of the state of welfare in the rearing of these two species. This will lay the foundation for a continuous survey of animal welfare in German aquaculture and enable farmers and farm managers to routinely assess the status of animal welfare on their farms. This will also enable individual farms to survey the development of their husbandry conditions and to detect trends in husbandry at an early stage. Additionally, they can check the success of changes and implemented measures immediately.
Approach at Thünen-Institute of Farm Economics
On the basis of literature analyses and data research, we pre-select suitable socio-economic indicators. Subsequently, the selection criteria defined by the entire project team and the methodical procedure used to limit indicators to these indicators are applied. A stakeholder analysis will be carried out in cooperation with the Kuratorium für Technik und Bauwesen in der Landwirtschaft (KTBL). Qualitative interviews are planned to identify the wishes and preferences of the stakeholders. A cost recording sheet will be developed to determine the survey costs of the indicators for which no data basis is yet available. During the first farm visits, during which an explorative survey of suitable indicators will be carried out, we will test this and the project partners will be able to implement the cost recording sheet later on their own. The indicators (results) for all animal species are presented in three different prototypes for a monitoring report. In Prototype I, only the indicators for which usable and sufficiently standardised data are currently available are mapped. Prototype II will be a report containing all indicators for which the data are already collected, even if they are not yet sufficiently standardised (e.g., slaughterhouse findings) or the rights to use the data are not available (e.g., data from information system for animals). Prototype III is planned as a comprehensive report containing all indicators identified as suitable, including those for which representative data are not yet available. The significance of the indicators will be presented on the basis of sectoral (e.g., dairy cows) and regional (e.g., federal state) analyses.
Approach at the Thünen-Institute of Organic Farming
On the basis of existing work, we are carrying out a selection of suitable indicators for national monitoring for dairy cattle, fattening cattle, rearing calves and young cattle on the basis of scientific criteria (validity, reliability, and practicability). We support our project partners TI-BW and KTBL in carrying out stakeholder analyses for the livestock species cattle and our project partners from FLI in selecting indicators for the transport and slaughter of cattle. We will prepare method manuals for dairy cattle, fattening cattle, rearing calves and young cattle on the basis of the previous work steps and will collect and test the selected indicators on 10 farms each with dairy cows, fattening cattle, rearing calves and young cattle. The data collected are processed and evaluated and checked for suitability for processing. We will prepare a draft of a National Animal Welfare Monitoring Report for cattle and formulate recommendations for the implementation of continuous monitoring for dairy cattle, cattle for fattening, rearing calves and young cattle. Finally, the results will be coordinated with experts and stakeholders from science, authorities, and associations, etc. in order to achieve a high level of acceptance in practice. In addition, there is a continuous review and evaluation of relevant scientific and specialist literature and the preparation of reports and manuscripts for specialist and scientific journals. The participation in scientific congresses and events for the transfer of knowledge into practice will take place with the aim of presenting the results.
Approach at the Thünen-Institute of Fisheries Ecology
Based on literature and studies carried out in other European countries, a list of potential animal-related and resource-related indicators and parameters with regards to the key elements of management and operation is composed. A pre-test will be carried out on selected farms in order to test the general feasibility of the survey methods and, if necessary, to adapt the process accordingly. The experience gained from this pre-test will result in a methodical catalog of parameters and indicators. These will be discussed with representatives of aquaculture research and administration, the fish health services, representatives of associations and farmers. The aim is to mutually identify and select the most relevant and practical indicators. Subsequently, a representative number of aquaculture farms for trout and carp production will be visited nationwide, and the indicators will be sampled. Doing so, the focus will be placed on practicability, as well as identifying those indicators, that provide the most reliable results. One major goal is to support aquaculture farms and companies in the implementation of a regular self-monitoring of the state of animal welfare. This way a nationwide evaluation about the current state and trend of animal welfare in rainbow trout and common carp in Germany can be realized. Farm managers will be asked about potential challenges regarding animal welfare in order to clarify where current problems occur and which measures are specifically necessary to solve these.
No project results available yet.
12.2018 - 11.2021
Project status: ongoing