Six guiding principles to ensure humane livestock farming

In February 2021 the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality requested an advice on the preconditions for animals to experience positive welfare. The Council on Animal Affairs presents six guiding principles for humane livestock farming. 

Advisory report

In November 2021 the Dutch Council on Animal Affairs presented an advisory report on Humane Livestock Farming to the Minister of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV). It presents preconditions that have to be fulfilled in future livestock farming to ensure a positive welfare experience for the animals involved. The report of the Council additionally discusses the needs of animals that have to be met to experience positive welfare; the useful parameters to determine whether these needs are fulfilled, and presents ways for future animal housing systems to meet these needs.

6 principles humane livestock farming
Image: RDA

The 6 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).

Coalition agreement

The Dutch government has embraced the RDA advisory report and the 6 guiding principles to ensure humane livestock farming. In January 2022 the government has officially made the development of humane livestock farming part of the coalition agreement.