Animal welfare package: it is forbidden to kill chicks “without interest”

“This package of measures is a huge success for animal welfare, which is finally fulfilling years of demands from animal welfare activists,” Animal Welfare Minister Johannes Rauch (Greens) said at the press conference held after the Cabinet.

“We have made important improvements for the welfare of the animals.” He sees the animal welfare package as a “very important first step”. But in government, “He will continue to fight for animal rights. Because we are not yet where we want to be.”

Infinity Fully Ribbed Flooring

With the current Animal Welfare Package, the year-round tethering of livestock will end from 2030. 4,700 stables are affected, and there will be no other exceptions. In pig farming, an incentive must be created to provide more space for the animals. In new and converted stables, 20 percent more space should be provided, and cooling is also planned, according to Rauch. The minister spoke of a “first step” that is not enough, but a compromise. Fully ribbed floors will remain for the time being.

Getty Images / Westend61

More room for hogs under certain conditions – but floors remain fully ribbed

Tighten up animal transportation

When transporting animals, there is a tightening, for example through stricter regulations, higher penalties and shorter transfer times. For example, calves should only be moved from “three or four weeks of age,” Rauch said.

Rauch spoke of a “difficult subject” when it came to transporting animals, since “it is clear that animals are transported under difficult conditions and in agony”. In the future, adult breeding cows may be exported to a few third countries, while animals intended for slaughter and fattening in third countries are strictly prohibited.

Livestock in animal transport

Getty Images / istockphoto / Miguel Perfectte

Traumatic transport of animals must be improved with new rules

Chicks should be fed in zoos

In addition, there will be a ban on “foolish” killing of chicks in the future. Instead of throwing them away, Rauch said, the male chicks should be fed in zoos. The need is great, so far it had to be imported from abroad.

In addition, in the future it should be possible to determine the sex of the chicks in the egg and thus be able to carry out the appropriate procedures “early and with anesthesia”. According to Rauch, the newly hatched chicks in Austria were by no means “shredded”.

In addition, animal protection ombudsmen in federal states will be legally strengthened. They obtain party status in proceedings under the Animal Transport Act. Another innovation is related to torture breeding: here there will be a ban on advertising animals that have the characteristics of torture breeding.

Most provisions in effect as of 2023

Animal Welfare Minister Rauch sees the package of measures as complementary to those improvements to animals already laid out in the government’s programme. It is due to be reviewed this week and approved in Parliament at the end of June. At the beginning of 2023, most of the regulations could come into effect. Combined with appellations of origin, this is an important step, not least for consumers.

Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Kostinger (ÖVP) emphasized that animal welfare efforts succeed only if they are carried out alongside farms. She said that pig breeders in Austria are currently producing red, inflation is also affecting feed costs, and German pork is produced about a third cheaper. Animal welfare costs about a third, and organic is twice that. So it is also essential that consumers have access to the right products.

News: It wasn’t a big hit

However, NEOS was disappointed: “The opportunity to introduce a scheme for more animal welfare and quality rather than quantity in production was missed. For small steps, there is no need for greens in government, who are always so important in animal welfare,” says Katharina Werner. , a spokeswoman for animal welfare at NEOS. Above all, it is incomprehensible that there is no notable step forward in the field of eliminating fully ribbed floors.

Four Paws: Unacceptable, VGT: Total Failure

Animal welfare organization Four Paws called the proposed amendment to the Animal Welfare Act “unacceptable”. “Pigs and cows will continue to stand on fully ribbed floors, tail docking and non-anesthetic castration of young pigs will remain a common practice and the animals will be transported at very young and very long ages,” a press release says.

The VGT spoke of a “complete failure” and also omitted the ban on slatted floors entirely. “Functional concepts have been on the table for a long time: enough hay so all the animals can lie dry, clean and soft, twice the space and activity material.” Here ÖVP “vigorously defends the interests of the animal industry” and “agricultural lobby”. The victims are Austria’s cattle, which will hardly benefit from the new measures.

Vienna’s Animal Welfare Ombudsman, Eva Percy, also criticized the expulsion, calling it “a mess for Austrian pigs”. Instead of eliminating “totally outdated and animal hostile” forms of breeding for the slat floor entirely, this will be entrenched in Austria’s stables over the next few decades: “The suffering of the millions of pigs that have to live like an outhouse in Austria will be entrenched for posterity” .

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