FOUR PAWS supports method of production labelling that reflect animal welfare standards. Whenever people opt to consume animal products, FOUR PAWS recommends to look out for animal-friendly sources and choose animal welfare labels, such as “Tierschutz-kontrolliert”, whenever possible.
FOUR PAWS strives to sustainably improve the quality of life of farmed animals and establish a standard for the keeping conditions, transport and slaughtering of these animals. In 2012, FOUR PAWS began developing guidelines for our “Tierschutz-kontrolliert” animal welfare label together with scientific livestock experts and veterinarians. It is the best practice for producers and gives consumers the opportunity to support this by reassessing their consumption habits.
While FOUR PAWS runs the label mainly in Austria, it also serves as a best practice example and solution for the problems inherent in the current animal husbandry system globally. The partnering farms are best practice examples for how we see the future of handling farm animals.
*animal-friendly husbandry: stables with daylight, fresh air and exercise area: interventions only with anesthesia; GMO-free feed; regular health checks
Better living conditions for over 900,000 farm animals
The stringent “Tierschutz-kontrolliert” guidelines for a species-appropriate life have been outlined for:
- dairy cows
- cattle for fattening
- pigs for fattening
- ducks for fattening
- laying hens
- chickens for fattening
- turkeys for fattening
Moreover, this quality standard has also established trail-blazing criteria for husbandry, transport, and slaughter that go beyond national standards. In 2020 alone, “Tierschutz-kontrolliert” improved the living conditions of over 522,000 animals in Germany and Austria.
To support the continual improvement of the welfare of farm animals, “Tierschutz-kontrolliert” awards either a “Silver” or “Gold” label
“Silver” indicates very good husbandry standards and significant improvements over conventional intensive animal farming practices. Which means:
- More space
- Appropriate husbandry in structured stables
- Appropriate manipulative material
- Access to daylight and fresh air
- GMO-free fodder
- Bedding material like straw
- No fixation of animals (e.g. farrowing crates)
- No interventions without elimination of pain
- Collection of animal-based parameters (animal welfare indicators)
- Short transport distances
- Minimal stress during slaughter
- Independent controls
The “Gold” label is awarded for the highest standards in animal husbandry, meaning the animals have even more space, access to outdoor exercise and the farm follows species-specific regulations. In addition, many practices of intensive farming have been abandoned or drastically improved. For example, male chicks are not killed when laying hens are reared, and cow-bounded rearing of calves is required.
The criteria for transport and slaughtering are equally stringent for both Gold and Silver standards, and great attention is paid to species-specific requirements. For example, transportation is limited to a maximum of 4 hours per 200 km, in comparison to the legal regulation, which allows for 24 hours of transport with only a 1-hour break. The transporting medium is also bedded, and the slaughtering process is stress-free.
The compliance of the “Tierschutz-kontrolliert” guidelines is regulated by a strict certification system and gets regulated once a year by independent controllers and by FOUR PAWS representatives.
Overall, the criteria call for a more respectful treatment of farm animals.
Best practice farms
With its best practice “Tierschutz-kontrolliert” label, FOUR PAWS offers farms solutions for problems in intensive animal husbandry. It works to abstain from cruel practices in husbandry systems and to bring more welfare to farm animals. This is how we envision the future living conditions of farm animals.
The Allgäuer Hof-Milch GmbH keeps dairy cows under “Tierschutz-kontrolliert” “Silver” guidelines. The dairy cows have plenty of space, pasture, cow brushes for the wellbeing and plenty of roughage. Fully slatted floor is forbidden, as well as tethered housing. Dehorning is regulated and only carried out with sedation, pain elimination and treatment. In the future, Allgäuer Hof-Milch aims to implement the ‘Gold Label’ standards in some of its farms. This would mean the cows would have in addition, access to an outdoor yard, dehorning would be forbidden and the guidelines would bind the farmers to rear their calves through cow bonded practices. Some of the Allgäuer Hof-Milch farmers implement this already by choice. Moreover, animal-based parameters would provide information about the well-being of the animals. The Allgäuer Hof-Milch supports its farmers on the way to more animal welfare and motivates them with fair payments. The consumers can also support these positive changes by paying slightly more for the animal-friendly products at the point of sale.
Pigs for fattening
Hütthaler KG keeps pigs under the “Tierschutz-kontrolliert” “Silver” guidelines. The pigs have structured stables with a lot of space, scattered lying areas are available and manipulable material like straw. Tail docking is forbidden, and castration is only allowed with narcosis, as well as pain elimination and treatment. The pigs have access to an outdoor area for fresh air and daylight. Transport is short and the slaughtering happens stress-free. The animal-based parameters provide information about the well-being of the animals.
There are five egg packing stations in Austria which keep laying hens under “Tierschutz-kontrolliert” “Silver” guidelines. The laying hens have more space, are in smaller groups and have ample perches. They can take a straw or sand bath and have access to an outdoor area as well as pasture. Beak docking is forbidden.
The Wanderhuhn GmbH keeps its laying hens under “Gold” conditions. The animals have, in addition to the “Silver” standard, even more space, mobile housing and the laying nests are made with natural nesting material. In particular, male chicks are not killed when their sisters are reared. This is highly favored and brings even more animal welfare to the laying hens and their brothers. Moreover, animal-based parameters provide information about the well-being of the animals.
Ducks for fattening
The Eiermacher GmbH keeps ducks under the “Tierschutz-kontrolliert” “Gold” guidelines. The ducks live in small groups, have littered lying areas and an outdoor area. Access to pasture as well as an open water source provides them with even more animal welfare. The latter is important for the wellbeing of waterfowl. Transport is short and slaughter is stress free. The animal-based parameters provide information about the well-being of the animals.