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Piglet Castration and Animal Welfare

by 5m Editor
22 March 2012, at 7:06am

NETHERLANDS - The European Commission and the Danish presidency of the EU organised a Conference on the EU Animal Welfare Strategy: 'Empowering consumers and creating market opportunities for animal welfare' on 29 February and 1 March.

This initiative aims to present the EU strategy on the protection and welfare of the animals 2012-2015. The establishment of general principles in a consolidated revised EU legislative framework may contribute to a simplification of the animal welfare legislation and ultimately facilitate its enforcement. And there are actions that the Commission already performs but which need to be reinforced, such as: developing tools to provide consumers and the public with appropriate information, to determine empowered decisions through responsible choices.

An important conference topic was whether the market can drive animal welfare forward. LEI researcher Gé Backus presented the case of piglet castration as an example where the market both represents the problem and the solution for better animal welfare. In the Netherlands much attention is given to raising animal welfare to an even higher level, on the part of the business sector, NGOs and political parties alike.

Since 2011 major market parties in the Netherlands do not sell meat from castrated male pigs. Of the Dutch male piglets 40% had not been castrated by September 2011. A combination of preventive and corrective measures is implemented and the Dutch consumption of pork meat remained at the same position compared with poultry meat. Effective communication strategies by NGOs were a driving factor in increasing the perceived sense of urgency by Dutch retail and food companies.