Animal rights activists have asked the Greens to remain tough in the fight against sows that are too tight. “There must be no wobbling of the Greens,” said the President of the German Animal Welfare Association Thomas Schroder on Monday at the TEH. The head of the largest animal welfare association in Germany demands that the ten state governments with green ministers in the Federal Council should prevent the “box stands” that have been prohibited but widespread from being legalized for decades.
“The Greens have always claimed that they are also the animal protection party. Now it’s your responsibility. Now they have to deliver, ”added Jasmin Zollmer, a consultant at the ProVieh organization. From Friday to Monday afternoon, around 370,000 people signed an online appeal from the Compact and Foodwatch to the Greens to “end the martyrdom of millions of sows now”.
On Tuesday, state secretaries and ministerial directors from the federal and state governments will meet at a meeting in the Ministry of Agriculture in Berlin to reform the passage in the animal welfare livestock farming ordinance on the crate.
Federal Minister Julia Klockner (CDU) wants to delete the mostly disregarded regulation that the animals must be able to stretch their legs while lying down. After a transition period of up to 17 years, the crates should be slightly larger and the times of the animals reduced from several weeks to 12 days per delivery cycle.
The Federal Council’s Agriculture Committee recommends that the extension rule be maintained, the transition period limited to 8 years and the fixing period to 10 days. The plenary, in which the votes are distributed differently than in the committee, postponed the vote on the recommendation because of too big differences.
“We call on the Greens to stick to the committee’s recommendation,” said ProVieh activist Zollmer. Tierschutzbund boss Schroder rejected a possible compromise to enforce the extension rule before the box booths were enlarged. “A green federal minister celebrated the animal welfare goal with us and put it into force: Renate Kunast. It would be a curiosity if the Greens now deviate from the state goal due to pressure from the Union-led countries, ”warned Schroder.
Like the animal rights activists, the consumer organization Foodwatch also demands that box stands be abolished immediately. “A farmer who has a crate will use it as he sees it economically necessary because there is no one who will control how long the animals will be in there,” said Matthias Wolfschmidt, International Campaign Director of Foodwatch, the TEH. The veterinary offices would rarely inspect every farm due to a lack of personnel.
He rejected the farmers’ argument that without the crate, the sows would migrate entirely to Poland or Denmark, where the animals would be kept in the crate. When implementing the EU directive against unfair trading practices, Germany could “stipulate that the trade may only offer animal foods for sale that at least meet the requirements of German animal welfare law,” said Wolfschmidt.
Green leaders want to compromise
The federal chairmen of the Greens, Annalena Baerbock and Robert Habeck, wrote Foodwatch: “ We Greens want to say goodbye to the crate. “But since the party does not rule alone in the countries, it has to find a compromise. The Greens wanted the rule that the sows should be able to stretch their legs even when lying down. A transition period of 15 to 17 years is “clearly too long”. The fixation could be reduced to 5 days.
Renate Kunast, on the other hand, spokeswoman for animal welfare policy for the Greens in the Bundestag, told the TEH: “The Basic Law must be respected and the Magdeburg judgment implemented. Until the agenda item in the Federal Council is called, I hope that this will happen. “
The 1.8 million sows in Germany are usually kept for months in metal racks that are only about the size of the pig. It cannot turn around and only lie down slowly. This has the advantage that young animals are not easily crushed. Besides, the crate stall makes it easier for staff to keep track of which sow is already inseminated. The metal frame also saves space, because more freedom of movement is required outside the cage.
Animal rights activists criticize, however, that the crate stands often caused ulcers in the shoulder and hip areas. It is cruelty to animals, the sows to stay around without contact with other members of the species and without possibilities, to live out their drive to explore or to wallow themselves. If sows had enough space, not many piglets would be crushed without a crate.
The Animal Welfare Livestock Ordinance allows the box stands for a limited period. But since 1992 it has been stipulated in the ordinance that “every pig can stand up, lie down and stretch its head and on its side the limbs”.
In 2015, the Higher Administrative Court of Saxony-Anhalt, therefore, requested that the crate be either at least as wide as the standing pig or that it must be possible to put the limbs in neighboring empty cages without disabilities. The Federal Administrative Court upheld the verdict from Saxony-Anhalt in 2016.
“Not feasible for small businesses”
Boxes, as requested by the court “, are hard to be found”, the Ministry of Agriculture admits in the justification of its draft regulation. “Box stands with a width of 65 cm (gilts) or 70 cm (cage) and a length of 200 cm are currently common practice, although narrower box stands can also be widespread to different extents.” According to scientists, the average sow has a body height of 90 cm. Accordingly, the box stand should be just as wide.
Upon request, Klockner’s ministry informed the TEH that the draft regulation would significantly improve animal welfare. After all, the fixing times would be shortened considerably and the crate stands enlarged. Shorter transition periods would “not be feasible, especially for small businesses, without confronting them with unsolvable financial difficulties,” said the ministry. “It is important to keep production in Germany and to avoid further structural breaks – because only in Germany do we have concrete options for influencing husbandry conditions and thus animal welfare.”
In the future, the crate would be so wide that “the animals can get up and lie down normally and lie on their side.” However, they should not be so wide that the sows can turn around and injure themselves.