Do we have a welfare friendly animal husbandry?
Angela Bergschmidt | 01.07.2022
How can we measure whether animals feel well? What options exist to evaluate animal welfare in livestock farming? Which political measures are effective in achieving improvements?
Animal welfare combines the concepts of well-being and welfare. This refers to the feelings of the animals, which depend, among other things, on the exercise of species-specific behaviors and the state of health. Animal welfare expresses striving for a positive state.
Animal welfare implies "doing justice" to the demands of the animal with its husbandry, housing, care, feeding. The term describes to what extent the animal is given the conditions to behave normally in order to maintain its health, i.e. negative emotions such as fear are avoided or positive emotions such as joy can be experienced. Animal welfare is closely linked to the measurement and evaluation of animal husbandry systems and, where appropriate, transport and killing. It therefore plays a role not only in farm animals, but also in aquaculture as well as zoo, circus, experimental, pet and companion animals.
Several Thünen Institutes do research on animal welfare. The Institute of Farm Economics evaluates the effectiveness of animal welfare measures of the rural development programmes (RDP) and develops new instruments such as results-oriented animal welfare payments. The Institute for Market Analysis examines the societal expectations on livestock farming and the acceptance of animal husbandry. The Institute of Organic Farming reviews animal based indicators on agricultural holdings (on-farm research) and examines approaches to improve animal welfare. In addition, scientists work on investigational questions at the experimental station of the Institute of Organic Farming in Trenthorst, for example on alternative calf rearing systems, the renunciation of dehorning in dairy cows or castration of piglets. The Institute of Fisheries Ecology works on the scientific principles for the assessment of animal welfare in aquaculture and advises aquaculture enterprises in the process of implementing new knowledge to improve animal welfare.