5-State-Evaluation: Effects on animal welfare


Cattle stable (c) C. Weins
(© C. Weins)

On-going evaluation of the Rural Development Programmes of five German federal states in the programming period 2014 - 2020: Effects on animal welfare

The Thünen Institute of Farm Economics evaluates the effects on animal welfare of the Rural Development Programs (RDP) of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Schleswig-Holstein and Lower Saxony/Bremen.

Background and Objective

Various measures under the RDP such as the farm investment support, farm advisory services or animal welfare payments, aim at improving animal welfare. We assess if they achieve this goal. To this aim, the following questions are crucial:

  • Are the measures in principle suitable to achieve improvements in animal welfare?
  • Which effects do the measures unfold on the supported holdings?
  • What is the contribution of the measures to improve animal welfare in livestock farming and how efficient are they?

Evaluation of the effects on animal welfare takes place within evaluation of the whole Rural Development Programs.


To evaluate the effects of the various support measures, we use different methods and data-sources. Milk-inspection data, which contains information on the health status (i.e. mastitis, metabolic disorders) is used for the evaluation of the grazing premium in North-Rhine-Westfalia. The result-oriented animal welfare measure for pigs newly implemented in Lower-Saxony is accompanied in a first step by telefone- und written surveys on the administrative procedures and changes implemented on the supported farms. For Hesse and North-Rhine-Westfalia data from the Identification and Information System for Animals (HIT) is tested with respect to its use for evaluation puropses.

Data and Methods

For the analysis, we evaluate funding data (for example, animal numbers, funding amounts) but also self-collected data and information from statistical surveys. In addition to quantitative statistical methods (descriptive statistics, multivariate analyzes), we use qualitative methods (focus groups, content analysis).

Preliminary Results

For the evaluation of the result-oriented animal welfare measure for fattening pigs ("curly tail premium") and the action-oriented laying hen measure in Lower Saxony, written surveys were conducted at participating farms in the years 2017/2018. From these surveys, the following findings were obtained and conclusions and recommendations derived:

  • The participating farms were largely satisfied with the administrative implementation of the new support measures.
  • For the laying hen measure, the proportion of farms that had to make adjustments to participate was significantly lower than for the curly tail premium. This indicates high deadweight effects in the laying hen measure, which are partly due to the high proportion (about 70 %) of organic farms. These farms meet the majority of housing requirements per se.
  • The laying hen measure is purely action-oriented with requirements on space, feeding, materials for investigation and manipulation etc. Due to the lack of result-orientation, holdings with a high degree of feather pecking and cannibalism have also received payments for animal-friendly husbandry. Therefore, inclusion of result-based components into the funding measure is recommended.
  • For the curly tail premium, this result-orientation already exists. It represents a good approach to achieve the actual goal of promoting "intact animals". However, with the critical value of a minimum of 70 % intact curly tails, up to 30 % of the animals may suffer pain due to tail-biting. Therefore adjustments are recommended with respect to this threshold value.
  • Of the farms participating in the curly tail premium, those with conventional housing practices (pens with fully slatted floors) had more difficulties in achieving a high proportion of intact tails than those with straw based systems. The scientific literature and a number of projects aiming to reduce tail biting on conventional farms confirm this result. It is therefore necessary to discuss whether the measure should be extended to include provisions defining the conditions for keeping intact animals.

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5.2015 - 12.2024

More Information

Projekt type:
Project status: ongoing

Publications to the project

Results 6 - 7 of 7

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  1. Bergschmidt A, Brinkmann J, Renziehausen C, March S (2017) Evaluating 'Animal Welfare Payments' of the EUs Common Agricultural Policy. In: Jong IC, Koene P (eds) Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group Level : WAFL 2017 ; Ede, The Netherlands ; September 5-8, 2017. Wageningen: Wageningen Academic Publ, p 168
  2. Bergschmidt A (2017) Tierwohl - Definitionen, Konzepte und Indikatoren. Land Raum 30(3):4-6

Results 6 - 7 of 7

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