Animal justice

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Animal welfare is a term for the health and well-being of animals, especially farm animals . Animal welfare includes the aspects of physical health, the feasibility of natural behaviors ("normal behavior") and the emotional well-being of the animals. Animal welfare has become a topic of broad scientific research and discussion and the term has become a political flagship . The term animal welfare appears e.g. B. also in connection with the campaigns of slaughterhouses ( Westfleisch , Vion NV ) and fast food chains ( McDonald’s , Burger King ).

Animal welfare depends crucially on whether animal husbandry is animal-friendly, i.e. whether it meets the needs of the animals. The subject of animal welfare is therefore often addressed in specialist literature with the term animal welfare . Animal welfare describes as a measurable criterion of the keeping environment and the handling of the animal, "to what extent environmental conditions offer the animal the prerequisites for avoiding pain, suffering and damage as well as for ensuring well-being".

The question of animal welfare and animal welfare arises in farm animals ( pets , animals , circus animals) and pet animals , sometimes in wild animals (eg. As zoo animals. See wild animals ). The focus here is on farm animal husbandry. The decision as to which housing conditions and procedures are to be assessed as unsuitable for animals depends on the level of scientific knowledge, but also on social preferences. The legislature defines minimum requirements in animal welfare law .

Definition of terms

Animal welfare, animal welfare, animal welfare

Animal welfare and animal welfare behave in mirror image: animal welfare depends above all on the animal-friendly treatment of animals, and the purpose of animal welfare is animal welfare. The two terms are often explained together, for example: “The terms 'animal welfare' and 'animal welfare' combine the areas of animal health, animal behavior and emotions. If animals are healthy, can carry out their normal behavior and negative emotions are avoided (e.g. fear and pain), it can be assumed that the animal welfare situation is good or that the animals are kept in a manner that is appropriate to the animals.

Otherwise, the terms animal welfare and animal welfare largely, but not exactly, refer to the same issues. For example, the physical health of an animal does not depend solely on animal husbandry and animal-friendly behavior: An animal can also get sick if the keeping conditions and veterinary care are optimal. Since animal welfare is usually viewed in terms of human responsibility, the two terms still refer to the same topic. The thematic agreement leads some authors to treat animal welfare and animal welfare as synonyms , which is inaccurate or at least imprecise.

The English term animal welfare , which also appears in German specialist texts, is a literal equivalent of the German word Tierwohl . In English, however , animal welfare is used more frequently and with a broader meaning than animal welfare in German. Animal welfare can refer to the welfare of animals ("animal welfare") as well as to animal husbandry and all human activities that serve to protect animals. Therefore, depending on the context, the translation with animal welfare or animal welfare or animal welfare comes into question. Animal welfare , for example, also includes protective measures for wild animals and in this respect corresponds to the German term animal welfare . In English, the term welfare animal also applied to historically early efforts to animal welfare and should in this context of animal welfare to be translated. Thus animal welfare corresponds to an umbrella term for several German terms.

Animal welfare

While the concept of animal welfare refers to the quality of animal husbandry, animal welfare also includes protective measures for wild animals living in the wild . Examples are game rescue or measures to protect whales (see whale sanctuary ). Dolphins are an animal welfare issue because many of them die as fishery bycatch ; Dolphins are only relevant for the discussion of animal welfare if they are kept in dolphinariums .

Another difference is that animal welfare is more about the elementary needs of animals, while the concept of animal welfare also takes into account the emotional well-being of the individual animals.

Animal rights

The concepts of animal rights and animal justice stand in a partly contradicting, partly parallel relationship to one another. The animal rights debate has been concerned with the question of whether humans are even allowed to use animals since the 1970s. Animal rights philosophers like Tom Regan and Peter Singer largely reject the use of animals. In contrast, practitioners (e.g. farmers and trading companies) and scientists from various disciplines ( e.g. ethologists and veterinarians ) start from the reality of animal husbandry and deal with the question of how to make animals as animal-friendly as possible - despite their use by humans. so can treat and hold in harmony with their natural needs. Steps on the way to more animal welfare in animal husbandry can also be understood as a step-by-step approach to the ideal of animal rights - for example if certain farm animals are granted the “right” to more freedom of movement in the stable in the future. In this respect, there is also a certain similarity between the concepts.

The realization that a more or less animal-friendly attitude does not mean justice towards the animal and cannot be equated with a recognition of animal rights, is reflected in the renaming of the Austrian Animal Justice Index (TGI), as it was originally called. Helmut Bartussek, who developed the TGI in 1985, reported on the renaming to the animal welfare index (bold type as in the original):

“The process was originally called the 'Animal Welfare Index - TGI'. The ethologist Dr. Glarita Martin, Stuttgart, 1990 made the proposal to him by, animal welfare and beauty to replace index ', because it will determine how far an entertainment system claims the animals meet is how far it is an animal-friendly system. The term animal justice, on the other hand, means giving justice to the animal, a requirement that goes beyond animal welfare [...] and ultimately also addresses the ethical question of how far the use of animals can and should go. Since this justified reference, the TGI has been referred to as the animal welfare index. "

Measurement and evaluation

The five freedoms

In 1979, the then newly established British Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) published the concept of the "five freedoms" , which was based on the British Brambell Report (1965) and has found worldwide recognition. It forms the basis for various measurement and evaluation systems for animal welfare. The Farm Animal Welfare Council continued to work on the subject of animal welfare and published regular reports and statements before it was replaced in March 2011 by a successor organization, the current Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC).

The five freedoms are:

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst: animals have access to fresh water and healthy and nutritious food.
  2. Freedom from housing-related complaints: animals have suitable accommodation (e.g. a shelter in the pasture), adequate lying areas, etc.
  3. Freedom from pain, injuries and illnesses: The animals are cared for by preventive measures, or rapid diagnosis and treatment, and without amputations (or anesthesia ).
  4. Freedom from Fear and Stress: Procedures and management avoid fear and stress e.g. B. by dispensing with driving aids.
  5. Freedom to act out normal behavior patterns : The animals have the opportunity to exercise normal behavior, e.g. B. through sufficient space, group housing, etc.

The concept of the five freedoms offers an approach for operationalization, i.e. the measurement of animal welfare in practice.


The various aspects of animal welfare are measured on the basis of indicators. A distinction is made here:

  • Animal-related indicators that are measured directly on the animal. Examples of animal-based indicators are pododermatitis in fattening poultry, lameness in dairy cows and lung findings on the carcase in fattening pigs.
  • Resource-related indicators that, for example, provide information about housing procedures and space available.
  • Management-related indicators that cover practices such as the dehorning of cattle or the castration of male piglets, but also the feeding and handling of the animals.

The measurement of animal welfare is always based on several indicators. Many individual indicators are recognized and have proven themselves. So far, no generally recognized set of indicators is available. The usual measurement and evaluation methods each make a selection from the indicators and set priorities.

Measurement and evaluation methods

Some measurement and evaluation methods incorporate animal, resource and management-oriented indicators; others only use one or two groups of indicators. One of the reasons for this is that the procedures are designed for different user groups and purposes. Examples are policy advice from authorities and experts, advice for farmers, farm planning or self-monitoring by farmers or product labeling (animal welfare label) by trading and marketing companies.

Procedure Indicators description
Welfare Quality mostly animal related In the Welfare Quality ® project , a network of European research groups developed assessment systems with regard to animal welfare and corresponding product information for cattle , pigs and poultry . For the overall assessment of the well-being of the livestock on a farm, good feeding, good housing conditions, good health and behavior appropriate to the species are recorded through animal observation and assessed in a point system.
Animal welfare index animal-related, resource-related, management-related The Animal Welfare Index (TGI) is designed for the evaluation of husbandry methods. Points are awarded for the areas of “possibility of movement”, “social contact”, “soil quality”, “light, air and noise (stable climate)” and “care intensity”. The TGI is mainly used in Austria.
National assessment framework for animal husbandry procedures resource related The "National Assessment Framework for Animal Husbandry Procedures" was created by the Federal Research Center for Agriculture and the Board of Trustees for Technology and Construction in Agriculture (KTBL).
Critical Control Points The concept of critical control points (CCP) is used in the food industry and animal husbandry for the risk-oriented assessment of production processes according to specified standards. Certain target values ​​must be achieved at the control points. When keeping fattening pigs and sows , z. For example, the presence of occupational material is a critical control point.
Checklists animal-related, resource-related Various checklists (e.g. Bioland , German Agricultural Society ) are suitable for self-monitoring by the animal owner. Using the checklists, farmers should be able to identify problem areas in the barn themselves.

In addition, indicators are further developed and used in cooperation with various actors in the food chain within the framework of label and certification systems. Similar to the organic seal , the animal owners have to meet certain requirements or prove a certain health status of the animals in order to receive the markings. The requirements vary depending on the label and certification system. Examples are “Neuland”, “For more animal welfare”, “Animal welfare controlled” and “AssureWel”.

Evaluation problem

Three-circle model of animal welfare according to David Fraser (2008). The components of animal welfare only overlap in the middle range. Since they are partly independent of each other, an overall assessment of animal welfare depends on the importance attached to the individual components. (Fraser only used the English terms in the graphic. The German terms and notes on the meaning have been added.)

Values play an important role in assessing animal welfare . Different values ​​are a cause of divergent assessments of the animal welfare of husbandry and management procedures. If animal health is given high priority and natural behavior is less important, housing in a confined space can be rated positively as long as the animals remain physically healthy despite the lack of exercise. If the natural behavior is rated higher, extensive husbandry methods are rated positively, even if they are associated with health problems for the animals (e.g. parasite infestation in laying hens in free-range husbandry ).

In the seminal article Understanding animal welfare (2008), David Fraser worked out that the three components of animal welfare are partially correlated with each other (shown as overlapping areas in the graphic), but are also partially independent of each other. Each component of animal welfare provides a useful approach to researching animal welfare and developing improvements in animal husbandry. Fraser emphasizes that both scientific findings and non-scientific value judgments go into the assessment of animal welfare. Animal health and species-specific behavior have now been described very well and can be objectively recorded, while the perceptions of the animals have so far only been researched to some extent.

For the individual indicators, too, a distinction must be made between the measurement of the indicator (e.g. proportion of lame cows in a herd) and its assessment (what can be described as “good”?). Only the measurement is based on scientific knowledge, not the evaluation. For example, if the proportion of lame cows in a farm is 28 percent, this can lead to a negative or positive evaluation, depending on the evaluation standard selected.

The assessment problem occurs to a greater extent when combining data and information to form an overall assessment of animal welfare, for example for a company . For a number of environmental resources (such as the size of the barn, the design of the lying area, the availability of occupational material, separate lying areas), there are findings about the animals' preferences . In order to bring these together for an overall assessment, it would be necessary to know the relative importance of the various resources to one another. For example, it should be possible to answer the question of whether a soft lying surface is more important to a pig than undisturbed food intake. Even if there are experimental approaches for such questions, they are methodologically and conceptually complicated. It becomes even more difficult if the relevance of indicators of various aspects of animal welfare should be aggregated for an overall assessment. It would have to be answered here what relevance a healthy lung has compared to the possibility of being able to live in a stable social group. An overall assessment is made even more difficult if different indicators influence each other negatively.

It is true that there are options to assess the relevance of the various indicators through surveys of experts and / or social groups. However, the results remain conceptually unsatisfactory, because the assessment is to a certain extent detached from the animal-related perspective. It is therefore questionable whether it makes sense to accept a considerable lack of clarity in the informative value in favor of an overall assessment that is easier to communicate (for example in the sense of an index for animal welfare).

Problems in farm animal husbandry

Some problem areas are mentioned below, i.e. areas in which animal welfare is often impaired, as experience has shown. Studies on the current status are regularly published (e.g. EFSA opinions or studies on organic farming).


Laying hens

  • Killing of day-old male chicks
  • Cropping of beaks / feather pecking, cannibalism
  • restricted normal behavior in some housing systems

Broiler poultry

  • limited ability to run
  • Inflammation of the ball of the foot
  • controlled or restrictive feeding (hunger) of the parent animals in breeding
  • limited normal behavior (movement, employment opportunities)


Dairy cows

Beef cattle (stable)

  • Tail tips necrosis
  • high death rate (in calves)
  • restricted normal behavior (movement possibilities, sleeping)


Fattening pigs and piglets

  • high death rate (in piglets)
  • Tail docking / cannibalism
  • castration without anesthetic
  • limited normal behavior (opportunities to move, employment)


  • restricted normal behavior (movement, nest building)
  • Injuries: Abrasions in the crate , bite injuries in group positions
  • Lameness, damage to the musculoskeletal system (joints, claws)

Animal transport and slaughter

When transporting animals , the following problems are often discussed: travel times, heat and cold stress as well as deficiencies in equipment (e.g. access to water, air conditioning) and overcrowding of the transport vehicles.

The following problems are often addressed during slaughter : The animals are sometimes not properly anesthetized before bleeding, injured animals are treated roughly, an overall high level of stress, especially when unloading and driving the animals for slaughter, high fluctuation and insufficient qualification and motivation of the slaughtering staff.

See also


  • Angela Bergschmidt: Animal Welfare - Definitions, Concepts and Indicators , in: Land & Raum 3/2017, p. 4–6 ( PDF )
  • Lars Schrader: Animal welfare - requirements for sustainable housing systems . In: Future-oriented building for animal husbandry. KTBL conference from 6.-7. April 2011 in Münster , pp. 115–125.
  • Animal husbandry in the area of ​​tension between animal welfare, economy and society. Proceedings of the Animal Welfare Conference 2015 in Göttingen ( PDF ; 11.2 MB)

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. IJH Duncan, D. Fraser: welfare Understanding animal. In: MC Appleby, BO Hughes (Eds.): Animal Welfare. Wallingford, UK 1997, pp. 19-31.
  2. Westfleisch: "Aktion Tierwohl" from 2013 without antibiotics. on: , March 19, 2012.
  3. Animal welfare campaign ( Memento from May 2, 2013 in the Internet Archive )
  4. German Raiffeisen Association eV Friday report, livestock and meat industry. No. 18, 2013, p. 5.
  5. Burger King wants more animal welfare. on: , May 2, 2012.
  6. There is also the brand name "TierWohl" for horse litter and riding arena surfaces (see TierWohl brand products ).
  7. For example Ute Knierim: Basic ethological considerations for assessing animal welfare in farm animals. In: Deutsche Tierärztliche Wochenschrift 109, 2002, pp. 261–266.
  8. Ute Knierim: Assessment of animal welfare - concepts and definitions of terms (text accompanying the lecture, online ), pp. 3–5. See Ute Knierim: Basic ethological considerations for assessing animal welfare in farm animals. In: Deutsche Tierärztliche Wochenschrift 109, 2002, pp. 261–266.
  9. Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture : Farm Animal Husbandry Strategy. Sustainable animal husbandry in Germany. June 2017, p. 7 ( online ).
  10. Steffen Hoy: animal welfare. What are we actually talking about? , Blog post on, November 1st, 2016. Quote: "According to a professionally recognized understanding, animal welfare can largely be equated with animal welfare [...]."
  11. US President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Animal Welfare Act in 1966 to protect laboratory animals. In German, such laws are still referred to as the "Animal Protection Act", not the "Animal Welfare Act".
  12. The breadth of meaning of animal welfare can be understood by comparing the German and English versions of texts from the BMEL . For example: animal welfare corresponds to animal welfare , animal welfare corresponds to animal welfare oriented husbandry , animal welfare initiative corresponds to animal welfare initiative .
  13. P. Ingenbleek, V. Immink, H. Spoolder, M. Bokma, L. Keeling: EU animal welfare policy: Developing a comprehensive policy framework. In: Food Policy. 37, 2012, pp. 690-699.
  14. ^ F. David: Animal ethics and animal welfare science: bridging the two cultures. In: Applied Animal Behavior Science. H. 65, 1999, pp. 171-189.
  15. Helmut Bartussek: Animal Rights Index for Laying Hens , status: November 1995 (PDF), p. 4 f.
  16. ^ FWR Brambell: Report of the Technical Committee of Inquiry into the Welfare of Livestock Kept under Intensive Conditions. HMSO, London 1965.
  17. ^ Farm Animal Welfare Council: FAWC Report on Farm Animal Welfare in Great Britain: Past, Present and Future (PDF), October 2009, p. 2.
  18. Collection: FAWC advice to government
  19. a b c Thünen Institute : How animal welfare can be measured
  20. Welfare Quality Network (successor organization to the Welfare Quality ® project )
  21. Animal rights index:
  22. National assessment framework for animal husbandry procedures, KTBL-Schrift 446, 2006.
  23. E. von Borell, D. Schäffer: Animal justice of husbandry methods for pigs. 2002.
  24. U. Schumacher (Ed.): Bioland-Handbuch Tiergesundheitsmanagement. Bioland-Verlag, 2007.
  25. DLG leaflets and working documents on animal husbandry , in particular the series Das Tier im Blick ( breeding sows , dairy cows , laying hens , horses and animal welfare in aquaculture ) and animal welfare aspects in trout husbandry
  28. Seal of approval "Tierschutz Kontroll "
  29. ^ A b David Fraser: The role of the veterinarian in animal welfare. Animal welfare: too much or too little? Abstracts of the 21st Symposium of the Nordic Committee for Veterinary Scientific Cooperation (NKVet), Vaerløse, Denmark, September 24-25, 2007. In: Acta veterinaria Scandinavica. Volume 50 Suppl 1, 2008, pp. S1-12, PMID 19049678 , PMC 4235121 (free full text).
  30. Steffen Hoy: animal welfare. What are we actually talking about? , Blog post on, November 1, 2016.
  31. EFSA - European Food Safety Authority: Scientific Report: The welfare of weaners and rearing pigs: effects of different space allowances and floor types. 2005; Opinion on Piglet Castration , 2007; Scientific Report on the risks associated with tail biting in pigs and possible means to reduce the need for tail docking considering different housing and husbandry systems. 2007; Effects of farming systems on dairy cow welfare and disease . Report of the Panel on Animal Health and Welfare, 2008.
  32. J. Brinkmann, C. Winckler: Status quo of the animal health situation in organic dairy farming in Germany - mastitis, lameness, metabolic disorders. Contributions to the 8th Scientific Conference on Organic Farming, 1. – 4. March 2005, Kassel. 2005, ISBN 3-89958-115-6 , pp. 343-346.
  33. J. Brinkmann et al .: Status quo of the animal health situation in organic dairy farming in Germany - results of a representative nationwide field survey. Contributions to the 11th Scientific Conference on Organic Farming, 15. – 18. March 2011, Giessen. 2011, ISBN 978-3-89574-777-9 , pp. 162-169.
  34. ^ EFSA - European Food and Savety Authority: Scientific Opinion Concerning the Welfare of Animals during Transport ; Report by EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Welfare, Italy, 2011.
  35. C. Hafner et al: 8 hours are more than enough! Animals Angels, 2012.
  36. M. Machtolf, M. Moje, K. Troeger, M. Bülte: The stunning of slaughter pigs with helium. In: Max Rubner Institute , Federal Research Institute for Nutrition and Food (Ed.): Short version of the lectures of the 48th Kulmbacher Woche, 2013, pp. 32–33.
  37. Michael Gneist: On the situation of the slaughterhouses in Lower Austria from the point of view of logistics and animal welfare in the area of ​​unloading to stunning. Dissertation. Institute for Animal Husbandry and Animal Welfare at the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, 2000, p. 47 ff.