EU: New EFSA Scientific Opinions: first glimpse of scientific basis for improved welfare of dairy cows, ducks, geese, and quail.

New EFSA Scientific Opinions: first glimpse of scientific basis for improved welfare of dairy cows, ducks, geese, and quail

24 May 2023

Eurogroup welcome EFSA’s new Scientific Opinions and recommendations on dairy cows, quail, duck and geese welfare, all of whom lack species-specific protection despite millions of these animals being farmed in the EU.

The new EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) Scientific Opinions on dairy cows and ducks, geese and quail will form the basis of species-specific provisions in the EU’s upcoming revised animal welfare legislation, providing much needed protection for these overlooked species.

Welfare of ducks, geese and quail on farm

Best practices for the farming of these species are not widely disseminated yet and a common understanding of high welfare standards is lacking, hence the importance of outlining the current practices, available science and drawing recommendations for improved animal welfare outcomes. The opinion is composed of 3 parts: (1) description of husbandry systems currently used in the EU, (2) analysis of the main animal welfare consequences (restriction of movement, injuries, group stress and inability to perform comfort behaviour related to these husbandry systems) and (3) recommendations to prevent the negative welfare consequences listed in point (2).

EFSA is clear on the need to step away from cages for all farmed species, including both individual and group systems. The mandate didn’t cover force-feeding for foie gras, but EFSA still highlighted that all husbandry systems used in foie gras production should be avoided due to their severe impact on animal welfare. Space allowance should be increased and there must be possibilities for water bathing, a need all waterfowl have strongly pronounced. Outdoor access is strongly advised and if not possible, birds should have at least a covered veranda. A range of additional enrichment measures are also recommended, including enough nesting material to build nests and perches when relevant according to the needs of the species.

EFSA recognises there is still a large knowledge gap in the available scientific literature for these species. We regret that a clear recommendation on the need to have access to outdoor areas is not present in the opinion, however, we still consider the document a positive development in the journey towards better protection for ducks, geese and quail – species that have so far received insufficient attention. We are looking forward to progressive legislation that takes into account the needs of ducks, geese and quails and prioritises their welfare. 

Read EFSA’s Scientific Opinion on “Welfare of ducks, geese and quail on farm“.

Welfare of dairy cows

This Scientific Opinion is composed of 3 parts: (1) mapping and assessment of dairy farm housing systems in the EU, (2) analysis of the main animal welfare consequences (lameness, mastitis, restriction of movement, resting and comfort behaviours and metabolic diseases) and (3) assessment of possible indicators to identify potentially risky farms in term of animal welfare level.

Through the opinion the severe animal welfare consequences of tethered systems are exposed. From restriction of movement to restriction of the performance of comfort and social behaviours, this type of housing is deemed unsuitable and the necessity to end it is stated. 

Pasture access is featured as having a positive impact on movement and expression of natural behaviours as well as improving hoof health. Nevertheless, the report shows these systems have severely declined in number across the EU in the last years. We regret that there isn’t a clear statement in the report highlighting pasture based systems as the best for animal welfare (when comparing well managed systems).

We also welcome the recommendation for 9 or more m2/ per cow in indoor systems, and the need to further assess and use animal based indicators to detect potential risk farms in terms of animal welfare. 

It is time for the European Commission to take a stance for dairy cows and provide them with a good quality of life, through the revision of the animal welfare legislation. 

Read EFSA’s Scientific Opinion on “Welfare of dairy cows“.

Regards Mark

Italy: EA Expose Animal Conditions Caused By Recent Floods.

Photos from EA.

We here in Europe have all seen the terrible floods recently in some parts of Italy; here is the animal news:

Floods in Emilia-Romagna: new photos expose dead and abandoned animals on farms

28 May 2023

Essere Animali

Essere Animali documented the situation in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region as flooding continues to impact the lives of people and animals. They discovered thousands of animals trapped and waiting for rescue.

On 19, 20 and 21 May, the Essere Animali investigation team visited farms affected by the floods in the provinces of Ravenna and Forlì-Cesena, in order to document the conditions of the animals confined in factory farms of the region. 

Emilia-Romagna is – together with Lombardy, Veneto and Piedmont – one of the regions of Italy with the largest number of reared animals and intensive structures, with more than 20 million poultry and over 1 million pigs reared per month.

The situation was dramatic and the most striking case was that of Bertinoro, where a farm with thousands of pigs was still partially flooded, with no operation underway to feed and rescue the animals. 

Piles of dead pigs – in particular one with more than 100 animals – and operations to move the dead animals outside the farm were documented.

In San Lorenzo, three sheds were found to be flooded and more than 60,000 hens had died.

Essere Animali expresses solidarity with all the people affected by this tragedy, and highlights how Italy is once again fragile and unprepared for the emergency, which affects people and animals such as those bred and confined inside factory farms, where very often there is no evacuation plan for emergencies.

Regards Mark

EU: Are better broiler standards around the corner? Animal Equality’s petition to be discussed at the PETI Committee.

Are better broiler standards around the corner? Animal Equality’s petition to be discussed at the PETI Committee

23 May 2023

Animal Equality

Animal Equality has succeeded in submitting a petition in the PETI Committee of the European Parliament to outlaw fast-growing broiler breeds on the basis of incompatibility with EU law. The committee meeting will take place on May 24, and it’s critical that MEPs attend to vouch for the welfare of these innocent birds.

Across the EU, billions of broiler chickens (chickens bred for meat) are suffering. To support high levels of production on factory farms, they’re bred to grow extremely quickly, which leads to a range of severe health problems, including lameness and heart diseases.

Breeding these birds to grow this quickly is a direct threat to their welfare – and is an issue the EU must address. Fortunately, a great opportunity has been presented to do just that through the efforts of our member, Animal Equality, who has managed to get a petition in the PETI Committee of the European Parliament to ban the farming of fast-growing broilers across Europe. This could be a critical turning point for their future, so it’s vital that policymakers attend the meeting on May 24 to speak up for their welfare.

We’ve signed an open letter asking MEPs to show up for broiler chickens

For the petition to be taken seriously, MEPs must attend the committee meeting and support its goals. That’s why we – along with many NGOs including LAV, GAIA and AnimaNaturalis – have signed an open letter calling on them to take heed of this critical animal welfare issue. 

You can read it here.

This petition could make history for broiler chickens, and we hope that policymakers mobilise to change their future for the better. We look forward to the results.

Regards Mark

UK: The (UK) Government Plans to Extend the Ivory Act 2018 to Include Bans On Imports From Several More Species. Positive News.

UK ivory ban list to be extended to include five more species including hippos

Trading ivory from a hippopotamus, walrus, narwhal, killer whale and sperm whale will soon be made illegal, the Government has said.

The Ivory Act 2018 came into force last June to protect elephants and ban the import, export and dealing of their tusks.

But it will now be extended to cover five more species after it was revealed they are most at risk of ivory exploitation.

Hippos, walruses and sperm whales are all classed as vulnerable on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s red list.

Read more:

UK ivory ban list to be extended to include five more species | UK News | Metro News

Hippos and killer whales among five more species to be added to ivory ban list | UK News | Sky News

The sale of ivory from the tusks and teeth of five more species will be banned under government plans.

The import, export and dealing of elephant ivory was banned in the UK last year. The animals that could join the list are killer whales, hippos, walruses, narwhals, and sperm whales.

The creatures are hunted and killed for their ivory which is often used in decorative carvings.

The government plans to extend the Ivory Act 2018 to include them.

People found to be breaking the law can be given unlimited fines or be jailed for five years.

Parliament must vote on the extension of the Act before it can come into force.

Ivory ban to extend to hippos and killer whales – BBC News

Ivory ban to be extended to five new species (

Regards Mark

India’s top court defends bull-fighting as part of nation’s ‘cultural heritage’ – waffle just like Spain !

India’s top court defends bull-fighting as part of nation’s ‘cultural heritage’ (

India’s top court defends bull-fighting as part of nation’s ‘cultural heritage’

India’s Supreme Court has upheld the constitutional validity of state laws allowing traditional bull taming sports of Jallikattu and Kambala, and bullock-cart racing.

On Thursday, a five-judge bench of the court, including justices KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar upheld the amendments made to the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, by the states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Maharashtra where these sports are traditionally held.

The court was hearing a batch of petitions challenging the constitutionality of the amendments.

The court held that the amendments did not violate its 2014 order banning Jallikattu.

The centuries-old sport of Jallikattu is extremely popular in Tamil Nadu during the four-day Pongal harvest festival in January in which hundreds of bull vaulters compete in a carnival-like atmosphere.

On Thursday, the top court said that these laws remedy the defects pointed out by the judgment in 2014 and the effect of the laws is to minimise the pain and suffering caused to animals, reported legal news portal LiveLaw.

“In A Nagaraja [2014 judgment] the sport was held to attract the restrictions under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, because of the manner in which it was practiced. The amendment Act and rules substantially minimises pain and suffering to animals…”, Justice Aniruddha Bose was quoted as saying by the outlet.

The bench added: “We are satisfied on materials that Jallikattu is going on in Tamil Nadu for last one century.

“Whether this is integral part of Tamil culture requires greater detail, which exercise judiciary cannot undertake… When the legislature has declared that Jallikattu is part of the cultural heritage of Tamil Nadu state, the judiciary cannot take a different view. Legislature is best suited to decide that.”

The court added that its judgment would also apply to laws on Kambala and bull-cart racing in Maharashtra and Karnataka and directed that these laws be followed strictly.

The court order, however, has been criticised by animal rights activists.

“Since 2017, at least 104 men and children and 33 bulls have died. More deaths will occur,” Poorvi Joshipura, a spokesperson for PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) India was quoted as saying to the Associated Press.

The global animal rights organisation was a complainant in the case in the country’s apex court.

Two years after the top court held that Jallikattu violated the rights of the animals and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, the federal government carved out an exception for Jallikattu and bullock cart races from the scope of the law.

The move was challenged by animal rights organisations in the Supreme Court.

While the matter was pending, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, was passed. Similar amendments were passed by Maharashtra and Karnataka.

The apex court’s order has upheld the constitutionality of the federal government’s action as well as the amendments passed by the states.

Regards Mark


From the League Against Cruel Sports:

Historic vote to ban snares in Wales (


Posted 16th May 2023

Leading animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports has praised politicians in Wales following a crucial vote on snaring.

A vote in the Senedd tonight [TUESDAY] has paved the way for a complete ban in Wales on cruel traps known as snares, the first country in the UK to take this big step forward for animal welfare.

The vote to ban snares was part of the stage three debate on the Agriculture (Wales) Bill, during which amendments designed to water down the snares ban were defeated.

The legislative process now moves on to the fourth and final stage in which the Senedd is expected to ratify the bill as early as next week, subject to King’s consent.

It follows over five years of campaigning by animal welfare charity the League Against Cruel Sports.

Will Morton, head of public affairs at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “Wales is leading the way in animal welfare by being the first country to ban these cruel and indiscriminate traps.

“We thank the thousands of campaigners who are backing the ban in Wales and the MSs who gave cross party support to make it become a reality.”

The debate tonight saw the defeat of amendments to allow so-called humane cable restraints, a term used by the shooting industry lobby to try and mask the cruelty of these devices.

Snares are cruel wire traps – nearly quarter of a million lie hidden in the British countryside at any one time – and are used by shooting industry gamekeepers on ‘game’ bird shoots to trap wildlife.

They tighten around the neck, torso or legs of the animal and cause immense pain and suffering to their trapped victims for hours or days before the animal is either shot or faces a lingering death.

They trap indiscriminately and government figures from Defra show nearly three quarters of the animals caught are not the intended target species.

Polling carried out by YouGov in January 2021 showed 78 per cent of the Welsh public wanted snares to be made illegal.

Once the Agriculture (Wales) Bill is passed – something that is all but inevitable – it will then come into force two months after receiving royal assent.

Will added: “The ban on the use of snares will protect wild, farmed and domestic animals from falling victim to these brutal devices, a move that will be welcomed by the vast majority of the Welsh people.

“The next step is to lobby the UK and Scottish governments to follow the precedence set in Wales and to ban these barbaric devices.”


Regards Mark

Photo credit: Wild Moors

Animal Welfare Ambition Needed in EU-Australia Agreement.

Animal Welfare Ambition Needed in EU-Australia Agreement

18 May 2023

As negotiations for a trade agreement between the EU and Australia enter the final stage, Eurogroup For Animals urges both sides to seek ambitious measures on animal welfare.

The EU and Australia are nearing the end of negotiations for a free trade agreement, with both sides expecting talks to conclude this summer. It is therefore critical that the partners take the opportunity of these final stages to achieve ambitious provisions on animal welfare in the agreement, including the recommendations outlined in our EU-Australia fact-sheets.

The EU and Australia together represent 473 million citizens, many of whom believe more should be done to improve the lives of animals. According to a 2019 report commissioned by the federal Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, 9 out 10 Australians are concerned about farming, and nearly as many want a reform to address this.

In Europe, animal welfare is a great ethical concern. The consultation on the Future of Europe found one out of seven EU citizens consider animal welfare a priority issue, 89% of EU citizens want the EU to do more to promote animal welfare at a global level, and 93% consider that imports of animal products should comply with the same animal welfare standards as those applied in the EU. 

While animal welfare is linked to sustainable food systems, unconditional trade policies fuel the negative impacts of intensive livestock farming by prioritising profits above all. Notably, 96% of Australian beef exports to the EU are finished in feedlots, which are detrimental to animal welfare, particularly in terms of health and nutrition.

According to the EU’s own impact assessment, a Free Trade Agreement with Australia granting further market access to Australian beef without any animal welfare condition would fuel beef production on feedlots, increasing water, soil and air pollution in Australia. Eurogroup for Animals calls on the EU and Australia to condition the beef quota to meat derived from animals fed with grass, hence explicitly excluding feedlots.

It is also critical that animal welfare be prioritised in the negotiations in relation to the handling (in particular introducing pain relief for all painful procedures and mutilations, including mulesing),  transport and slaughter of bovines and sheep.

Other topics less relevant to current trade flows must also be discussed, such as conditioning the lowering of tariffs on broiler-related products to the respect of the coming revised EU rules on broilers, which should to be aligned with the “Better Chicken Commitment” – already endorsed by Australian companies such as HelloFresh, My Food Bag, Marley Spoon and Domino’s – and laying hens with a conditionality on cage-free which would support the Australian government’s pledge to phase out battery cages by 2036.


2023_05_efa_EU_Australia_factsheets_en.pdf2.51 MB

Regards Mark

EU: Male chick and female duckling culling must be banned, argue several MEPs.

Male chick and female duckling culling must be banned, argue several MEPs

16 May 2023

Last Thursday, MEPs gathered at a plenary session at the European Parliament to share their views on banning male chick and female duckling culling. We were pleased to see most of those involved in the debate were against the brutal practice – but now, it’s vital the appropriate steps are taken to phase it out effectively in Europe.

Male chick and female duckling culling is inherently inhumane – where young birds are sent to slaughter at just one day old to be gassed or macerated, as they serve no ‘use’ to European food production. It’s a barbaric way to treat any sentient being – the European Commission must ban the practice in their ongoing revision to the animal welfare legislation.

Fortunately, this is a perspective many MEPs seemed to share at the plenary session held on May 11, where an end to the practice and alternative methods for managing day-old poultry populations was discussed. Some speakers referenced the fact that many Member States have already banned the practice (showing the EU that such a ban can be enacted effectively on a large scale), and that in addition, there has been progress made towards the use of in-ovo sexing technologies, which would determine the sex of these young birds before they hatch and therefore eliminate the need for such cruel slaughter.

Several MEPs showed particularly strong interest in a ban, calling male chick and female duckling culling “cruel”, “brutal” and “devastating”. Among the most passionate speakers were Niels Fulsgang and Clare Daly, who represented Denmark and Ireland respectively. Many MEPs referred to Article 13 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, as well, which acknowledges that animals are “sentient beings”. The clear message was that there is a strong dissonance between this acknowledgement and this barbaric practice, which is still allowed under European law – a dissonance that must urgently be addressed for the welfare of millions of animals each year. 

Based on the responses to this open question and the reaction from policymakers to L214’s event on male chick and female duckling culling in January this year, we’re optimistic that European policymakers will continue to work towards an EU-wide ban with no derogations, ensuring a strong and effective legislation that leaves no male chick or female duckling behind, no matter their ‘use’ assigned by the industry.

The European Commission can draw inspiration from the Member States who have already made progress in this area, and have at their disposal the latest science that shows much more humane alternatives to the practice are available and viable.

Regards Mark

EU: Debate about the Industrial Emissions Directive puts the intensification of animal farming in the spotlight.

Debate about the Industrial Emissions Directive puts the intensification of animal farming in the spotlight

17 May 2023

Next week the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) votes on the proposal for the revised Industrial Emissions Directive (2010/75/EU), commonly called ‘IED’. The debate around the revision shows that EU animal farms have intensified during the past decade to bigger farms and more intensive rearing of animals.

The IED controls emissions from the largest industrial installations in the EU, including large pig and poultry farms. Any installation controlled by the IED is forced to reduce emissions and needs a permit to operate. The EU agricultural sector is responsible for half of the methane emissions, a powerful greenhouse gas, and for ⅔ of the pollution from ammonia emissions. The EU is currently not on track with reducing its emissions and it is necessary to address more of the large livestock farms. 

The European Commission’s proposal for a revision of the Directive seeks to bring the IED in line with EU’s climate targets, the Zero Pollution Action Plan and the Global Methane Pledge (pledging to reduce methane emissions by 30% by 2030). In addition to large pig and poultry farms, the Commission proposes that the IED should also cover cattle and lower the threshold to cover farms with 150 or more Livestock units (LSU). 150 LSU corresponds to, for example, a large farm with 500 pigs, or 150 dairy cows, or 10,700 laying hens or 21,400 broiler chickens. 

A threshold of 150 LSU would cover the largest commercial cattle farms in the EU, and increase the coverage of intensive pig and poultry farms. The new proposal will increase the IED’s coverage from 18% to 60% of emissions of ammonia from cattle, pigs and poultry, and extend the coverage from 3% to 43% of methane emissions. This would help the EU achieve its climate commitments and help improve air and water quality.

The proposal has been criticised for affecting a larger proportion of farms than initially foreseen. 

The debate surrounding the proposal is illustrative of another important issue affecting the EU: the intensification of animal farming. In fact, even though the proposal will affect significantly fewer farms than originally planned, the relative number of farms (i.e. the percentage) is higher, as farms have become larger with more intensive breeding and the smaller farms have declined.

The debate also reflects how the animal industry does not bear the true costs of its production. For example, the new threshold of 150 LSU would cover 135.000 farms (according to data from 2020). The cost for the farms is estimated to be around 2.400 euro on average per farm per year while the emissions reduction will come with human health benefits of 5.5 billion euros per year, according to Commission figures. Given the large ‘hidden’ costs that intensive animal agriculture has for the environment, public health and animal welfare, the sector should not be exempted from the ‘polluter pays’ principle. 

The Commission’s proposal runs the risk of being watered down by the European Parliament and the Council by increasing the threshold or removing cattle from the scope. As the Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety votes on the proposal next week, Eurogroup for Animals calls on the Members of the European Parliament to honour the EU’s commitments to the climate targets, the Zero Pollution Plan and the Global Methane Pledge and uphold the proposed threshold of 150 LSU for cattle, pig and poultry.

Regards Mark