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Ökologischer Betrieb
Ökologischer Betrieb
Institute of

BW Farm Economics

Animal-friendly Livestock Farming and Animal Welfare

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".

Projects of Animal Protection and Animal Welfare

Laying hens in small group systems - is it profitable?

Economic efficiency of small group systems for laying hens in Germany

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Laying hens in small group systems - is it profitable?

Environmental and animal protection - too expensive for producers?

To which extent are EU and non-EU producers affected by legal regulations and how does this impact on their competitiveness?

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Environmental and animal protection  - too expensive for producers?

On-going evaluation of seven RDP in Germany from 2007 to 2013: Effects on animal welfare

In cooperation with the Thünen-Institute of Rural Studies, we evaluate the Rural Development Programs (RDP) of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony / Bremen and Hamburg.

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On-going evaluation of seven RDP in Germany from 2007 to 2013: Effects on animal welfare

Welfare friendly dairy farming – towards a result-oriented measurement and support

According to Eurobarometer surveys, most consumers desire adequate housing and living circumstances for farm animals. But which indicators are most suitable for the measurement of animal welfare and how can animal welfare policies be implemented in a result-oriented way? This research question is adressed by the Thünen-Insitut of Organic Farming and the Thünen-Institut of Farm Economics.

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Welfare friendly dairy farming – towards a  result-oriented measurement and support

On-going evaluation of five RDP in Germany from 2014 to 2020: Effects on animal welfare

In cooperation with the Thünen-Institute of Rural Studies, the Thünen-Institue of International Forestry and Forest Economics and entera, the Thünen-Institute of Farm Economics evaluates the Rural Development Programs (RDP) of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony / Bremen.

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On-going evaluation of five RDP in Germany from 2014 to 2020: Effects on animal welfare

International competitiveness of pig production in the context of animal welfare aspects

Selected measures for more animal welfare and their economic consequences on animal performance, productivity and profitability of the sow and finishing enterprises in Germany are investigated. On the basis of this, it will be analysed to what extent these measures will change the international competitiveness of pig production.

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International competitiveness of pig production in the context of animal welfare aspects

Nationwide comparison of animal welfare measures (premia)

From the society's point of view, most current livestock husbandry and management methods are non-animal-friendly and should be adapted. However, the improvement of animal welfare often entails higher investment- and current costs. These can be compensated by higher product prices (animal welfare labels) or by support measures. Since only a subset of consumers (~ 30%) are willing to pay higher product prices for improved animal welfare, a label (as a unique measure) is not likely to bring about substantial change in a majority of farms. This possibility may exist by promoting ...

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Nationwide comparison of animal welfare measures (premia)

Pig husbandry of the future

How should pigs be kept in the future? We compare different housing systems in piglet production and pig fattening from different perspectives and aim at identifying housing systems for the future.

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Pig husbandry of the future

National Animal Welfare Monitoring

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.

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National Animal Welfare Monitoring

Turkeys with untrimmed beaks - A practice-based project with media knowledge transfer

The aim of the practice-oriented project with media knowledge transfer is to test an overall package of animal welfare measures on farms with turkey hens in order to achieve optimal husbandry conditions. The misbehaviour of the animals should thus be reduced to a minimum, so that in the medium term the shortening of the upper beak will become redundant.

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Turkeys with untrimmed beaks - A practice-based project with media knowledge transfer

InnoChick - Innovative housing systems for the free-range management of laying hens

InnoChick is an in-house project to develop an innovative, automated and sustainable housing system for free-range laying hens.

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InnoChick -  Innovative housing systems for the free-range management of laying hens

Economic evaluation of husbandry systems with different animal welfare levels

Germany wants to be a pioneer in animal welfare and has stricter requirements for this than most other countries in the world. An important milestone was the abolition of cage systems for laying hens. But is everything all right now? All the farming systems currently in use have their weaknesses and there is still no way in sight to overcome them.

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Economic evaluation of husbandry systems with different animal welfare levels

Housing and husbandry systems of the future

None of today's widespread systems in use are convincing in all parameters. There are major differences between the systems in terms of animal welfare, re-source efficiency, production costs and profitability. Digitalisation can help to improve existing processes or to develop completely new systems. The project "Stable and housing systems of the future" is an in-house project for the development of innovative, automated and sustainable stable systems in livestock farming.

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Housing and husbandry systems of the future

How can the proposals of the Livestock Competence Network be transferred into practical farming?

The Livestock Competence Network (KNW), headed by former Federal Minister of Agriculture Jochen Borchert, has presented comprehensive proposals for the conversion of livestock production in Germany to animal welfare-friendly production methods.

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How can the proposals of the Livestock Competence Network be transferred into practical farming?

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