No ban on polygon floors: widespread criticism of new animal welfare law

For years, the Austrian animal welfare movement has been pushing for long-overdue improvements. However, the new package does not bring any far-reaching changes, according to the Association Against Animal Mills (VGT).

According to VGT in a radio broadcast, “the long-awaited ban on pig farming in whole columns has not yet been implemented.” Instead, the “Danish system” should be introduced in new buildings in Austria from 2023 – “a fully ribbed floor with a slightly different column arrangement and more space for an A4 sheet”. Nothing will change for established companies.

ÖVP as ‘agrarian lobby advocate’

“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 Animal Protection Secretary 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 Instead of eliminating “totally outdated and animal hostile” forms of breeding for the slat floor entirely, this will be entrenched in Austria’s stables over the next few decades: “The suffering of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” .

Animal welfare organization Four Paws called the proposed amendment to the Animal Welfare Act “unacceptable”. “Pigs and cattle will continue to stand on fully ribbed floors, tail docking and non-narcotic castration of piglets will remain a common practice and the animals will be transported at a very young age and for a very long time,” she said in a press release.

Getty Images / istockphoto / Miguel Perfectte

Traumatic transport of animals must be improved with new rules

News: It wasn’t a big hit

NEOS was similarly 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, spokeswoman. On behalf of Animal Welfare at NEOS. Above all, it is incomprehensible that there is no notable step forward in the field of eliminating fully ribbed floors.

Rauch: The first step and a big success

At the press conference after the Cabinet, Animal Welfare Minister Johannes Rauch (the Greens) spoke of a “first step” in the field of pig farming, which is not enough, but a compromise. But in government, “He will continue to fight for animal rights. Because we are not yet where we want to be.”

In principle, the set of actions is a huge success for Animal Welfare, which is finally implementing years of demands from animal rights activists. “So we’ve made significant improvements to animal welfare.”

Tighten up animal transportation

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. 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.


Apa / Peter Schneider

The “foolish” killing of chicks will be prohibited in the future. In a concrete sense, this means that it becomes animal feed in zoos.

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 the future, it should also 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. There is another innovation related to torture breeding: here there will be a ban on advertising animals that have the characteristics of torture breeding.

Criticism of the new animal protection law

The government passed a new package of laws on Wednesday that sets out stricter rules on animal welfare. In the future, the “unreasonable” killing of chicks will be prohibited, the transport of animals will be restricted and exports will be tighter. However, the entire slatted floor should remain for the pigs. The criticism came from the opposition and animal rights activists. The measures don’t go far enough for you.

Köstinger: needs consumers

The package is due to be examined this week and passed 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 Austrian pig farmers 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.

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