All animal keepers, in the private domain as well, must meet the requirements of animal welfare. Animal breeding and animal husbandry are important mainstays of Germany's agricultural sector. In this regard, animal health is key to the welfare and productivity of the animals. Safe animal feed, responsible use of veterinary medicines and the effective prevention and control of animal diseases help to achieve this objective.

Animal husbandry is constantly faced with new challenges as a result of the expansion of international trade and the increasing worldwide demand for meat.

With regard to the husbandry of farm animals, the legislator has laid down several requirements for the breeding, husbandry, medical treatment, transport and slaughter of animals. They aim to ensure that animals are kept in accordance with their needs and that they are spared unnecessary suffering and environmental strain. Where farmers offer their animals conditions that go far beyond minimum statutory requirements, the products may bear the animal welfare label initiated and promoted by the BMEL. A higher level of animal welfare involves higher production costs and consumer prices.

A farmer is walking through a cowshed with manure fork and bucket
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Overview of topics

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.


Farm an­i­mals

Animal breeding and animal husbandry are important mainstays of Germany's agricultural sector. The purpose of farm animal husbandry is first and foremost to produce food such as milk and meat, and to obtain animal products such as wool, hides or pelts. Targeted animal breeding helps to maintain both animal performance and animal health in the long term.


Pets and zoo an­i­mals

Pets are faithful companions to many people. However, they are not toys. Everybody who gets a pet needs to ask themselves whether they are really able to keep animals in a manner that is appropriate to the respective species.


An­i­mal health

Healthy animals play an important role in the efficiency of the agricultural sector and the safety of foods. To maintain animals' health, they require good husbandry conditions, effective prevention against and combating ofanimal diseases and animal epidemics, suitable feed and effective authorised veterinary medicinal products.


Vet­eri­nary medic­i­nal prod­ucts

Veterinary medicinal products such as antibiotics are important for the treatment of sick animals. Their responsible use serves animal health and animal welfare. Before veterinary medicinal products can be used, they have to be tested for quality, effectiveness and safety.


Live­stock trade and trans­port

Animals and products of animal origin are increasingly transported nationally and internationally. Transporting animals, notably over long distances, can place a great strain on the animals.



African swine fever (ASF): The BMEL asks for vig­i­lance and pre­ven­tion (topic:animal-diseases)

Since 2014 ASF has appeared in many different EU countries. This animal disease, which is highly prevalent in pigs and wild boar, has long been concentrated in countries (south) east of the EU and spreads from there.


Live­stock trans­ports to third coun­tries (topic:livestock-trade-transport)

Transporting animals, notably over long distances, can place a great strain on the animals. Such transports should therefore be avoided as far as possible on animal welfare grounds.This applies, in particular, to the transport of slaughter animals over long distances which should, if possible, be replaced by meat transports.


De­bate on piglet cas­tra­tion (topic:livestock-breeding)

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.


Rules on en­ter­ing the Eu­ro­pean Union (EU) with dogs, cats and fer­rets (topic:animal-husbandry)

The rules of Regulation (EU) no. 576/2013 have applied to the entry with dogs, cats and ferrets from non-EU countries (so-called third countries) since 29 December 2014. These regulations aim to provide protection against the introduction and spread of rabies.


Cur­rent chal­lenges in pig farm­ing (topic:livestock-breeding)

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.


In­ter­na­tion­al Congress on Sheep and Goats (topic:species-diversity)

Sheep and goats are among the oldest livestock animals due to their diverse uses. With much passion and diligence people have dedicated themselves to the breeding and keeping of various sheep and goat breeds. These livestock keepers provide an important contribution to a sustainable agriculture and to the conservation of biodiversity.


Bio­di­ver­si­ty Pro­tect­ing bees and in­sects (topic:species-diversity)

Both natural biodiversity and so-called agrobiodiversity, i.e. biodiversity created and used by humankind, are in decline. This development is evident all over the world – including in Germany. Protecting and maintaining species diversity and biological diversity are key future challenges.


Trav­el­ling with pet birds (topic:pets-zoo-animals)

Imports of pet birds from countries outside the EU (third countries) are carried out under controlled conditions in order to prevent the introduction and spread of "Avian Influenza".


Al­ter­na­tives to the culling of male chicks (topic:livestock-breeding)

Every year in Germany alone, about 45 million chicks are culled shortly after hatching. These are the brothers of the modern laying hens. These laying hens produce our eggs for consumption.


Ques­tions and an­swers on the sub­ject of lay­ing hen hus­bandry in Ger­many (topic:livestock-breeding)

Judicial authorities are currently investigating farm operators suspected of violating regulations on egg production


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