What rights to freedom do cattle officially have?

In 1979 the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), an independent advisory organ of the European Committee, determined that animals in cattle farming have a right to the following 5 "freedoms":

  1. Freedom from hunger and thirst - by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
  2. Freedom from discomfort - by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease - by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to express normal behavior - by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind.
  5. Freedom from fear and distress - by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.

 

How are these minimal rights violated?

Pigs

Cows

Laying hens and fattening chicks

For more information about the living condition of other farm animals or abuse of animals for consumption, see this page.

We believe that animals should be treated even better than the minimum demands listed to the left. Click here for our vision on animal rights.

   

Pigs

With pigs these rights are not met when:

  • they have to live in the dark almost 24 hours a day (and only get an hour of light around nine a.m. for instance);
  • they are castrated without anesthetics;
  • they are jammed between two bars so they cannot turn over or groom themselves;
  • they cannot root among the ground;
  • they have no resting areas covered with straw, but a grated floor
  • they have to live in the ammonia stench of their own manure;
  • they are transported to the slaughterhouse under stressful and violent conditions in trucks.
 

 

The site of the Dutch Ministry says:
In total 80% of the pig farms and 58% of the meat pig farms violate one or more aspects of the pig decree.
There has been a lot of evidence on violations of the ban on:

  • sow standing space shorter than 2 meters (non-conformance is 61%)
  • too little floor space for piglets
  • less than two thirds of a boar stable closed off
  • lacking an adequate sick bay (non-conformation 10%)
  • keeping pigs in the dark or under insufficient lighting (non-conformance 13%)
  • lacking an alarm installation for mechanical ventilation (non-conformance 32%)
  • lacking diversion material (non-conformance 25%)
   

With cows these rights are not met when:

  • calves are taken away from their mothers directly after birth to be fattened elsewhere. Calves have served their purpose by being born. The cow's milk is used for human consumption.
  • they have no opportunity to go outside (into a pasture);
  • they are tied down for entire winters.
 

Other animals

The organization Fur for Animals can explain what is wrong with mink farms.

We have a number of pictures of (small) spaces that are daily practice in free-ranging farms.
See also the proclamation for animal rights and manifesto for farm animals.

     
   

Laying hens

With battery-hens the 5 (basic) animals rights are not met, when:

  • their beaks are docked;
  • chickens cannot roost during their sleep and are forced to live in a disrupted day/night rhythm so they will lay more eggs
 
  • are forced to permanently live near members of their species they want to avoid (pecking order);
  • cannot free-range (outside), dig around or take dust baths;
  • are pushed violently into crates for transport, risking fracture, and transported to the slaughterhouse in trucks under stressful conditions.
     
'Animals Matter To Me‘ is a global campaign aiming for ten million signatures internationally to be sent to the United Nations to persuade governments to adopt a universal declaration on animal welfare.   Animals and our treatment of them matters to everyone, including you. Tell your government that animals matter to you.