Appropriate alternatives
 

Benchmark: animal requirements

Animal-appropriate production is characterized by the alignment of animal husbandry and handling towards the natural requirements of the animals. Husbandry systems are primarily adapted to animal behavior, without neglecting practical feasibility. Practical feasibility in this context means that the animal holder, his or her health and economic prosperity also be given the necessary attention. Animal-appropriate production is time-consuming, because it demands additional work – from the birth to the death of the animal. This justifies the prices for the corresponding products.

 

Exercise, fresh air, and sunlight

In line with the characteristics of the species, minimum requirements towards animal-appropriate production involve the possibility to exercise outdoors daily, to obtain sufficient space to feed and to lie, to maintain species-appropriate social contact, to have sufficient litter in the resting areas as well as structures that will allow the animals to withdraw and rest in line with their needs. Animal-appropriate also means ensuring suitable space and possibilities for birthing preparations, birthing, and the bringing up of the young as well as a natural mother-child conduct.

 

Attention to detail

Even in animal husbandry where the basic requirements are fulfilled, apparently unimpressive construction and structuring measures can foster animal well-being sustainably and in a cost-effective manner.

 

Cattle love straw mats, scratch brushes, and covered hay racks in exercise yards. Pigs love showering, rummaging, wallowing, and trees to rub against. When exercising outdoors or out on the pasture, shadow nets protect the animals against extreme weather conditions. In stables and barns, “littering areas” provide sows and piglets with the necessary privacy. Chicken enjoy dust baths, higher resting places, and perches to rest on. They prefer to lay their eggs in littered nests.

 

Yes to intervention – No to mutilation

Periodically, animal holders need to intervene, for instance to clip the animals’ claws or to help heal sick animals. Treatment booths to prevent animals from breaking out should not pose any risk or danger to animals or human beings and should also ensure access to different animal body parts. The careful handling of the animals to be treated as well as the preparatory measures, just as the use of tilting gates, help to minimize stress and prevent accidents.

 

Interventions such as the dehorning of approx. 200,000 calves annually or the castration of piglets are inconsistent with the concept of justice towards animals. Today, amongst others thanks to research supported by the Zurich Animal Protection Association, free-stalls with horned dairy cattle have become practicable and economically feasible. In pork production, boar fattening has become an animal-appropriate alternative to traditional pig fattening.

 

For a bright future

Freilandhaltung von Hühnern, befestigter Vorplatz. Im Werk- und Wohnheim Weid, Mettmenstetten
© B. Trachsel