Animal welfare

Animal welfare is enshrined as a State goal in the German constitution (German Basic Law) and regulated in the Animal Welfare Act. Under the latter, animal keepers are obliged to comply with the applicable regulations in order to promote the welfare of their animals.

Animal welfare is an important issue for the BMEL. The ministry works on developing the existing regulations to support animal welfare. Other examples of ways in which the BMEL promotes animal welfare include providing support for research projects, investments in livestock husbandry systems that conform to animal welfare principles, and the development of alternatives to animal testing. The ministry also supports and promotes better animal welfare standards - including for animal transportation - at EU and international level.

Overview of topics

Make Way: the Animal Husbandry Label is Coming

The two German chambers of Parliament (Bundestag and Bundesrat) paved the way for a mandatory state animal husbandry label that was presented by Federal Minister Özdemir. The legislation entered into force in August 2023. It is intended to provide transparency and clarity on how animals are kept and to enable consumers to make informed purchasing decisions.


Information on the state animal husbandry labelling system for users

Find out more about the state animal husbandry labelling system and its objectives, the types of husbandry system in use and the steps you will have to take as a livestock farm or food processing company to obtain the label.


Phasing-out of chick culling

On 20 May 2021, the German Bundestag adopted the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture's act banning the culling of chicks. It came into effect on 1 January 2022, making Germany a global pioneer in this area.


Debate on piglet castration

In Germany there are about 40,000 farms that keep pigs. The majority of them are family-owned businesses. About 35 percent of them keep fewer than 50 animals. The majority of piglets in Germany are surgically castrated. The reason for this is that the meat of male pigs can develop a very unpleasant smell and is considered hard or impossible to sell.


Current challenges in pig farming

According to the results of the 2016 agricultural structures survey, there are 40,000 holdings keeping pigs. The majority of them are family-owned businesses. About 35 percent of them keep fewer than 50 animals. Currently, pig keepers are confronted with many challenges.