Humane Livestock Farming

In 2021 the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality asked the Council to formulate an opinion that addresses the needs of animals that must be fulfilled for them to experience positive welfare in livestock farming. In answering that question the Council has formulated six principles that serve to guide the development of humane livestock farming systems.

Humane Livestock Farming

Six guiding principles

The point of departure is recognition of the animal’s intrinsic value and integrity (principle 1). By that we mean respect for the animal’s inherent value as a sentient being that can experience pain and pleasure. This also means that livestock
farmers should refrain from physical interventions such as taildocking and beak-trimming. Humane livestock farming also ensures that the animal’s basic needs are met: good feeding, good housing and good health (principles 2, 3 and 4). In addition, humane livestock farming provides sufficient opportunities for the animal to perform essential natural behaviours (principle 5). A system is ‘humane’ if it enables the animal to respond to changes in its social and physical environment and to achieve a mental state that it experiences as predominantly positive (principle 6).

Required actions and recommendations

This advisory report also addresses actions required for the development of a humane type of animal farming, such as monitoring positive welfare and designing suitable husbandry systems. Finally, the report highlights a number of critical development milestones on the road towards humane livestock farming, as well as a number of concrete recommendations.