Wet Houders van Dieren: Implementatie van Verordening EU 1099/2009 binnen Nederland

Er worden binnen de Europese primaire pluimvee bedrijven jaarlijks 97 miljoen wrakke of zieke dieren handmatig gedood omdat ze hun economische waarde hebben verloren en/of uit hun lijden moeten worden verlost. Voor Nederland betekent dit ca. 5,54 miljoen vleeskuikens en een kleine 620.000 leghennen

Die uitval is een ongewenst bijverschijnsel en wordt binnen de sector als een intern probleem beschouwd. Het publiek is zich nauwelijks bewust dat het om zulke grote aantallen dieren gaat die geen keuze hebben tussen onnodig leiden en een langzame dood. Bij zulke aantallen is dierenwelzijn is in het geding en de betroffen dieren verdienen meer dan gebagitaliseerd te worden, alsof het om een te verwaarlozen probleem zou gaan.

De Europese Verordening EU 1099/2009 die per 1 januari 2013 binnen alle Europese lidstaten van kracht is geworden. werd in Nederland opgenomen in de wet Houders van Dieren die per 22 augustus 2014 van kracht is geworden.

Deze nieuwe dierenwelzijnswet biedt unieke kansen voor gespecialiseerde pluimvee dierenartsen om een sleutelrol te vervullen in de transformatie van de pluimvee sector.

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Cervical neck dislocation: The legal framework/EU Directive 1099/2009

In Europe, animal welfare is a part of the ‘licence to operate’ for the animal production industry, and the agricultural sector is one of the most heavily regulated sectors in the EU.

Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 has come into force throughout the EU. The objective pursued by this regulation is to provide a level playing field within the internal market for all operators. Cervical neck dislocation is the traditional method of killing poultry on the farm. What changed after the Regulation 1099/2009 came into force at January 1, 2013 is that farmers are no longer allowed to use neck dislocation as routine method under emergency conditions to kill sick and cripple animals on the farm.

Many farmers lack information about alternative systems and often do not see any advantage in changing their processes, euthanizing sick and cripple animals in a more welfare friendly manner. An important problem is that the use of modern, more advanced animal welfare friendly systems of production often conflicts with economic pressure on operators to reduce costs. Not applying to administrative laws is a serious offense, usually sanctioned with high financial penalties.

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Besluit Houders van Dieren

Op 5 Juli 2014 werd het langverwachte Besluit Houders van Dieren in de Nederlandse Staatscourant gepubliseerd. Deze nieuwe wetgeving regelt onder andere het dierenwelzijn op productiebedrijven en is op 22 Augustus 2014 definitief van kracht geworden.

In het besluit zijn de Europese bepalingen overgenomen die zijn vervat in Europese Verordening EU 1099/2009. Het regelt onder meer het doden van wrakke of zieke productie dieren die op het landbouwbedrijf noodzakelijk gedood worden omdat ze hun economische waarde hebben verloren en/of uit hun lijden moeten worden verlost.

De Europese verordening voorziet bepalingen die een einde maakt aan de gebruikelijke praktijk om pluimvee door middel van handmatig breken van de nek te doden. Deze methode mag met ingang van het Besluit Houders van Dieren uitluitend nog toegepast worden als backup systeem. Iedere pluimveehouder is gehouden om een een standaard protocol te ontwikkelen en het personeel te trainen in het doden van pluimvee op het bedrijf.

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EFSA report: Unlikely that the percussive blow-to-the-head method will be allowed to slaughter animals

New methods have to be developed to replace brute-force methods like smashing animals with their head against the wall. And these methods have to be approved by EFSA. This is one of the important conclusions after the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) carried out a public consultation to receive input from the scientific community and all interested parties on the Draft Guidance on the assessment criteria for studies evaluating the effectiveness of stunning interventions regarding animal protection at the time of killing.

The guidance was prepared by the EFSA Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW Panel) and endorsed by the Panel for public consultation by written procedure on 10 July 2013. The written public consultation for this document was open from 15 July 2013 to 18 September 2013.

The current report summarizes the outcome of the public consultation, and includes a brief summary of the comments received and how they were addressed. The AHAW Panel prepared an updated version of the Guidance on the assessment criteria for studies evaluating the effectiveness of stunning interventions regarding animal protection at the time of killing that takes into account the questions and comments received.

One comment referred to a project regarding stunning piglets and goat kids by concussion (blow-at-the-head method):

“We have funded a research project looking at stunning piglets and goat kids by concussion as this is not currently permitted by 1099/2009, however has been common practice within industry on farm in the past –given that this opinion considers LAPS, should it also include concussion by a blow to the head? We are not aware of results at this stage, therefore I cannot comment on whether we will request in the future EFSA to review this method for inclusion” (Page 6).

The same comment was made, referring to concussion:

“We have funded a research project looking at stunning piglets and goat kids by concussion as this is not currently permitted by 1099/2009 however it has been common practice within industry on farm in the past – given that this opinion considers LAPS should it also include concussion by a blow to the head? We are not aware of results at this stage therefore I cannot comment on whether we will request in the future EFSA to review this method for inclusion” (Page 13).

EFSA Replies to this question as follows:

“The criteria and rules defined in this document apply also to back-up stunning methods used in slaughterhouses. While no detailed eligibility criteria for interventions other than those already defined in the Regulation can be provided in this document, the intervention has to be reported in sufficient detail and the outcome eligibility criteria must be fulfilled.”

And;

“The guidance considers all new or modified legal stunning interventions and back-up stunning interventions used at slaughter known to the AHAW Panel at the initiation of the mandate.”

This means that if the percussive blow-to-the-head method should become a legal method of killing or slaughter – other than as a back-up method – it has to undergo the same procedures as all killing and slaughter methods. That means the final end to the blow-on-the-head slaughter method. After the introduction of EU 1099/2009 it is no longer allowed as method to slaughter piglets, male sheep and goats, rabbits and chickens (with up to 5 kg live weight).

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LAPS system to stun poultry is not allowed within the EU

There are two different approaches utilize Nitrogen to stun and kill animals: 1) rendering poultry unconscious – causing Anoxia – by placing poultry in foam filled with >98% Nitrogen (the Anoxia method), and 2) rendering poultry unconscious by gradually reducing oxygen tension in the atmosphere leading to progressive hypoxia in the birds (the LAPS method).

The Anoxia method, using a high concentration of Nitrogen under atmospheric circumstances is permitted under EU 1099/2009. The LAPS method is not permitted in the EU. In order to be allowed in the EU, new stunning methods must ensure a level of welfare at least equivalent to that of the methods already provided in Council Regulation 1099/2009.

The EFSA‟s Panel on Animal Health and Welfare (AHAW Panel) was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the use of a low atmosphere pressure system (LAPS) for stunning poultry. Four documents were provided by the European Commission (EC) as the basis for an assessment of the extent to which the LAPS is able to provide a level of animal welfare at least equivalent to that ensured by the current allowed methods for stunning poultry.

The LAPS is described as rendering poultry unconscious by gradually reducing oxygen tension in the atmosphere leading to progressive hypoxia in the birds. In order to be allowed in the EU, new stunning methods must ensure 1) absence of pain, distress and suffering until the onset of unconsciousness, and 2) that the animal remains unconscious until death.

The submitted studies were peer-reviewed by the AHAW Panel as outlined in its “Guidance on the assessment criteria for studies evaluating the effectiveness of stunning intervention regarding animal protection at the time of killing”.

It is unclear from the submitted documents whether the rate of decompression used in LAPS induces unconsciousness and death without causing avoidable pain and suffering in poultry. The assessed studies did not pass the eligibility assessment and, therefore, no further assessment was undertaken.

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European rabbit production in deep trouble

Because in practice, farmed rabbits get sick, old or cannot be used for scientific testing (up to 1/3 of all farmed test animals cannot be used because they don’t fit the test profile), they have to be killed, either at the slaughterhouse (meat production) or on the farm facility. Up to January 1, 2013, using a high concentration of Co2 killed the rabbits.

That process was declared illegal, after the introduction of EU Directive EU 1099/2009 that only allows the following techniques to kill rabbits:

• Penetrative captive bolt device
• Firearm with free projectile
• Percussive blow to the head
• Lethal injection

All these techniques require an intensive contact between animals and operators. In case of an outbreak, using labor-intensive techniques need to be avoided, based on costs and the risks of spreading through human intervention. So what are the options: A new technique needs to be introduced to the European Food Safety Authority EFSA of the scientific committee of DG SANCO.

However sympathetic the scientific committee thinks about the need to develop a new technique for large-scale killing of rabbits, the industry has to take the initiative to present a complete science-based report, that is conducted according to Guidance on the assessment criteria for studies evaluating the effectiveness of stunning interventions regarding animal protection at the time of killing.

The Panel on Animal Health and Welfare was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the use of carbon dioxide for stunning rabbits. Specifically, EFSA was asked to give its view on the findings of the study performed by the Polytechnic University of Valencia (Spain) and the Animal Technology Centre CITA-ITAVIA “Estudio sobre la valoración mediante parámetros técnicos y de manejo del sistema de aturdimiento con gas CO2”. (red: “Study on the assessment by technical parameters and system management with CO2 gas stunning.”).

The answer was not at all satisfactory for the rabbit industry: As a first step, the type of study, critical variables, experimental design, data collection and analysis and reporting methods needed to supply scientific evidence that the use of CO2 is an acceptable alternative for the stunning of rabbits were defined. These criteria were then applied to the study.

The submitted study was not adequate for a full welfare assessment of the alternative method studied because it does not fulfill the eligibility criteria and the reporting quality criteria defined, according to the opinion of the committee. Follow this link to se the entire report. The rabbit industry has to raise sufficient funds to bring forward a complete report, ticking all the boxes, to enable EFSA to review the killing method proposed. First after EFSA is convinced that the proposed method is an improvement, the technique is accepted, meaning that in line with EU 1099/2009 all criteria like training & certification described in EU 1099/2009 need to be in considered as well.

Why is this so significant? Let’s assume that the rabbit industry would like to use the Anoxia method for killing rabbits. The method needs to go through the entire EFSA procedure before it can be applied within the rabbit industry. That would be the best option, but it still include going to the entire process of approval.

This makes it so hard to introduce better and more animal welfare friendly techniques like the Anoxia method to be applied within the EU. The rabbit industry is relatively small, but they have to fulfill the rules within the directive, if not, it will be the end of this industry if they do not come up with a solution that is validated and approved by EFSA.

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Lotta Berg: Poultry Emergency Euthanasia

Outbreaks of animal diseases are well documented throughout modern history. Major outbreaks have damaging consequences for animal welfare, for the industry and often cause major disruptions in food supply, especially within the poultry industry. In order to avoid these consequences, killing methods and techniques have been developed to kill poultry on farm, as well as development dedicated emergency plans, guidelines, procedures to shoulder efforts to reduce and prevent large-scale outbreaks.

Despite all these efforts in the past, outbreaks continue to occur. New, integrated methods for culling and disposal must be developed to combat outbreaks that cannot be mitigated or prevented by vaccination. These methods should be capable of supporting large-scale, quick culling campaigns and cadaver disposals without further spreading of diseases, transfer to humans, or putting a liability on the environment. In the EU, although Regulation 1099/2009 covers culling operations, the present techniques often are not compliant, or are often applied in an improper way.

On March 17, 2014, Dr. Lotta Berg, one of Europe’s leading experts in this field and Swedens’ representative within the European Food Safety Authority EFSA, presented at Neiker Tecnalia in Victoria-Gasteiz (Spain) her vision on emergency response, referring to the EU Directive EU 1099/2009. She covered in her presentation the following subjects:

• Different types of poultry and poultry production
• Reasons for euthanasia
• Large‐scale emergencies
• Contingency planning
• Monitoring animal welfare at on‐farm killing
• Critical points, follow‐up and reporting
• Different methods in practice
• Non‐emergency euthanasia

Dr. Berg concluded in her presentation that the Anoxia technique (N2 gas foam) is applicable for killing poultry on small-, medium- and large-scale poultry operations.

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Death caused by hyperthermia

Death caused by hyperthermia. This questionable method has been developed as a last resort option in case of a large-scale outbreak of High Pathogen Avian Influenza in the UK. Even in EU Regulation EU 1099/2009 there is room for countries to use this kind of methods, when compliance is likely to affect human health or significantly slow down the process of eradication of a disease. (EU 1099/2009; article 18, under 3).

Hyperthermia means that the cause of death is overheating the shed of the birds. The normal core body (CB) temperature of a bird must remain within a narrow range around a mean value of 41.4°C if its welfare is to be safeguarded.

If the core body temperature rises above 45°C most poultry will die quickly. To ensure VSD is effective the temperature in the house must rise to 40°C or greater and remain at that level. Maintaining a relative humidity of at least 75% will help speed the onset of death through hyperthermia.

This DEFRA document provides procedures and instructions on using Ventilation Shutdown (VSD) as an emergency method of killing of poultry for disease control purposes.

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Historical overview of male day-old chicks as animal feed

In 2013, more than 150 million chicks per year, male day-old chicks are used as high quality and nutritious ingredient on the diet of hundreds of species of wild animals that are held in zoos and breading centers.

In the past 30 years, the use of day-old chicks have been changed, from animal waste to high-end food for birds of pray, cranes and other animals living in zoos and fauna parks around the world. This change has become possible first, after the introduction of techniques to kill the animals without unnecessary stress or pain.

With the use of technology, people daring to think out of the box, and the entrepreneurial courage of only a view people who dared to stick out their neck for animal welfare in a time that it was absolutely not common to do so, the majority of all male day-old chicks that are produced in Europe today are being treated with respect during slaughter, completely in line with the EU directives EU 1099/2009 and EU 1069/2009.

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Impact assesment EU 1099/2009 January 19, 2012

Andrea Gavinelli, Directorate General for Health and Consumers, EU Commission: Summary.

Animal Welfare is being accorded an increasingly important role in today’s civil society. There is a growing expectation from consumers worldwide for animals used in food production to be well treated. Science has also more clearly defined the link of animal welfare with the increase of efficiency in production, animal health, securing sustainability, and ethical concerns.

The results of several social investigations and market analysis carried on in the European Union confirm that the farming of animals is no longer viewed by European consumers simply as a means of food production. Instead it is seen as fundamental to other key social goals such as food safety and quality, safeguarding environmental protection, sustainability, enhancing the quality of life in rural areas while ensuring that animals are properly treated.

While in the past animal welfare policy was often driven public concerns about specific topics the Commission adopted in 2006 a more comprehensive strategy for this policy area.

The first Community Action Plan on the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2006-2010 takes into account all the concerns as well as the globalisation of animal production. It defines the direction of the Community policies and the related activities for the coming years to continue to promote high animal welfare standards in the EU and internationally considering animal welfare as business opportunities while respecting the ethical and cultural dimension of the issue. A major effort is ongoing today to simplify the legislative framework and to reshape it in order to obtain in the future a more powerful tool to support European farm business.

The scientific study of animal welfare is a relatively young discipline and has developed over the last three decades and continues to expand to meet new challenges and new possibilities.

The scientific knowledge could play an important role facilitating the ethical and political decisions about animal care.

The vision is to integrate the farming of animals in good health and welfare conditions with the respect of several other issues such as the safety of the products and the respect for the environment: this integrated approach will bring a real benefit for the global society.

The overall aim of the European Commission’s initiative is to initiate a broad public debate on animal welfare which will allow shaping a coherent and widely accepted policy.

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