German animal welfare initiative opens second phase

The second phase of the “Initiative Tierwohl” (Animal Welfare Initiative) in Germany has made a successful start, according to the organizers.

(Wabeno, Bigstock)
(Wabeno, Bigstock)

The second phase of the “Initiative Tierwohl” (Animal Welfare Initiative) in Germany has made a successful start, according to the organizers.

More participants have been accepted into the second three-year phase of the Animal Welfare Initiative, which now covers more than 6,000 poultry and pig farms, and an annual total of 518 million animals, including 492 million chickens and turkeys.

For poultry producers, standards for participation in the Animal Welfare Initiative have been raised for this second phase. As well as the increased space allowance and provision of manipulable materials that were required under the first phase, farmers will now also need to carry out additional checks on the environment in the poultry house and on drinking water quality.

“It’s not just about the level of requirements,” said Dr. Alexander Hinrichs, managing director of Initiative Tierwohl. “It’s also about control. The Animal Welfare Initiative is the only system that covers the implementation of a wide range of animal welfare criteria.”

Each participating farm undergoes at least one unannounced audit each year to ensure that the required standards are being met. So far, 13,000 of these inspections0 have been carried out, and 270 farms were subsequently excluded from the program for failures.

Food retailers are also showing greater commitment to the second phase of the Initiative, increasing their contribution from the previous 4.00 Euro cents (US$0.050) to 6.25 Euro cents (US$0.076) for each kilo of poultry meat and sausage they sell under the scheme. These contributions are expected to generate EUR130 million (US$159 million) each year.

Four other changes have been introduced to the program for the 2018-2020 phase, according to Hinrichs.

Among these are the promotion of innovations to improve animal welfare, the provision of more advice and training for participating farmers, and the further development of animal health indices.

For the first time, the Initiative is launching a product seal so that consumers can easily distinguish meats produced under the new scheme. The seal is scheduled to be introduced in April of this year.

With its launch in 2015, Initiative Tierwohl also aimed to improve animal welfare in Germany’s pig sector.

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