Discussion process on Interventions in Farm-Animals

Staff: Herwig Grimm, Svenja Springer

Project period: November 2014 until June 2015

Project participants: in cooperation with stakeholders and animal welfare scientists in farm-animal context

In cooperation with Austrian Ministry of Health

The treatment of livestock has been the subject of increasingly controversial debate. Particularly painful interventions like castrating piglets or debudding calves are called into question and the need to search for alternatives is more and more urgent. The aim of this project was to provide a clear overview and description of currently performed, painful interventions in farm-animals. Their advantages and disadvantages in terms of animal welfare and economic aspects as well as implementation related issues were debated. In the discussion process four current interventions in industrial agriculture were discussed:

1)    castrating piglets,
2)    tail docking in piglets, 
3)    debudding calves, and
4)    debudding kits.

In total, eleven workshops, each lasting four hours, with 15 to 20 participants were carried out. The methodology used was an adapted ethical matrix.
The first step dealt with the problem description, which should be solved by the standard intervention of the current practice, such as sexual odour of boars in case of castrating piglets. In a second step solutions (in terms of alternatives) were identified and described. The third working step included a differentiated analysis of alternatives regarding their advantages and disadvantages in respect to animal welfare, economic aspects and implementation issues. The alternatives were discussed and assessed by stakeholders and scientists. The results of the discussions were documented in a completed ethical matrix.
By using this approach all different positions within this controversial debate on painful interventions in farm-animals could be taken into account. Furthermore solid information could be provided for every single intervention. Now, these results can serve as a basis for the political decision-making process.

We would like to thank all participants for the interesting and constructive cooperation!

Matrix castrating piglets (in German) 1

Matrix tail docking in piglets (in German) 2

Matrix debudding calves (in German) 3

Matrix debudding kits (in German) 4


Human-Animal News

More information about events and publications

Human-Animal News 5