A bond equals 250 chickens per cow

In the case of the Factory Breeding Initiative, the free range of livestock is a central issue. The initiators criticize that the federal government computes numbers with tricks.


The basics in brief

  • With the ban on factory breeding, all animals must be given adequate exercise.
  • Various numbers are circulating about how many animals you actually receive today.
  • The initiators find the federal government’s math tricks scandalous.

Through the Mass Animal Breeding Initiative, animal rights activists want to ensure that the “constitutional dignity of the animal” is respected. This is necessary as large industrial companies are increasingly crowding out traditional farms and systematically ignoring animal welfare.

Among other things, the plant-based initiative requires that the animals be maintained in accordance with at least the 2018 Bio-Suisse Guidelines. Among other things, this also states that all animals must be given regular access to the outdoors and what must be monitored in detail for each type of animal.

Mess numbers for animals with running

However, information on how many animals are actually allowed to roam today varies widely. The Federal Food Safety and Veterinary Office (FSVO) wrote on its website: In 2020, 78 percent of farm animals were able to go out regularly. On the other hand, the initiators complain that only 12 percent of all Swiss animals live in a meadow.

The discrepancy in these numbers is due to a different method of counting. The initiators count only those animals that are kept according to the criteria of the RAUS program (meaning “regular outdoor exercise”). Farmers receive more direct payments if they allow their animals to exercise as required. According to Sentience, 11 million of the 86 million farm animals are kept to RAUS standards – about 12.7 percent.

The RAUS software also serves as an algorithmic basis for the federal government. However, animals are not counted individually, but in so-called livestock units (LU). The cow is the measure of all things and is considered a GVE. However, 6 animals are needed for LU for fattening pigs, 100 animals for laying hens and even 250 for fattening chickens.

Is the welfare of a cow worth more than 249 chickens?

According to this calculation, on a farm with 249 chickens and one cow, more than half of the animals would be able to exercise if only the cow could get out, explains Philip Reeve, co-chair of Sentience Politics. Frankly, we find this method of calculation scandalous. The animal is an animal.”

Ryf admits that the computation in LVEs makes economic sense when it comes to food or space. “In the context of asking how many animals are allowed to play sports, that’s totally ridiculous.”

Factory Breeding Initiative: Not all animals are counted by the federal government

But this trick alone can only explain about half the difference. The association counts the number of animals in Switzerland on a given date. According to this method of counting, the number of animals for 2016 is just over 14 million. But 75 million animals were slaughtered.

The huge difference comes from the fact that stalls can sometimes be occupied by several animals in a row several times a year, with the animals being slaughtered after only a few months. In the case of pig fattening, about 3 alleged activities are assumed, and in the case of chicken fattening it is 7 per year.

Do you support the industrialized agriculture initiative?

“This ploy with the deadline is also dishonest,” the Plant Farming Initiative campaign manager criticizes. “If the initiative is accepted, all animals would have to be allowed access to the outdoors. This would give 88 percent of all animals who today have to spend their short lives without ever seeing the sky have access to pasture.”

More on this topic:

Farmers’ Factory Cultivation Initiative

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