Animal welfare and rights in Germany

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Animal welfare and rights in Germany (German: "Tierschutz und Wohlfahrt in Deutschland") is about the treatment of and laws concerning non-human animals in Germany.[1]


Germany's Animal Welfare Act creates an offence of willfully or negligently inflicting substantial pain, suffering, or injury to an animal without reasonable cause. The Act specifies a list of prohibited acts, including overloading, training using significant pain, suffering or damage, abandonment, and force-feeding other than for health reasons. "Animal" is not defined in the Act, but the Act references vertebrates, warm-blooded animals, fish, cold-blooded animals, amphibians, reptiles, and cephalopods.[1]

The Act's duty of care and anti-cruelty requirements apply to farmed animals. Particularly relevant are the prohibitions on force-feeding and the use of devices which significantly limit the species-specific behavior of an animal. The Act requires stunning of warm-blooded animals before slaughter, with an exemption for religious slaughter. The Act gives powers to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture to make secondary regulations on issues such as accommodation, training, transport, and slaughter. Secondary regulations also include the incorporation of European Union legislation on farm animal welfare.[1]

Regarding the use of animals in science, the Act encompasses elements of The Three Rs principles (replace the use of animals in research where possible, reduce the number of animals used, and refine methods to minimize pain, suffering, or distress). Facilities which test on vertebrates and cephalopods are required to have an Animal Welfare Officer.[1]

In 2002 the German Constitution was amended to include the protection of animals as a state goal.[1]

In 2014 Germany received a B out of possible grades A,B,C,D,E,F,G on World Animal Protection's Animal Protection Index.[1] This was lowered to a C grade in their 2020 Animal Protection Index.

Animals used for food[edit]

Animal agriculture[edit]

The German poultry industry consists of approximately 34 million laying hens, 60 million broilers, and 11 million turkeys. There are around 12.9 million head of cattle in total, including dairy cows and suckler cows.[2] In 2011 Germany had Europe's largest pig population at over 27.4 million.[3]

In 2016, a German court ruled that chick culling, in which male chicks are killed by being gassed or ground alive, does not violate animal protection laws. Several million chicks are killed by these methods in Germany each year.[4]


A 2009 survey found that 9% of German respondents identified as vegetarian.[5] Data on the prevalence of veganism is not available.

Animals used in research[edit]

In 2016, 2.19 million procedures were performed on animals in research. When animals killed for tissues or organs (but not undergoing any prior procedure) are included the number of animals is just under 2.80 million. The number of animals rose steadily from around 1.8 million in 2000 to over 3 million in 2014, before coming back down below 3 million. In 2016, 61% of procedures were classified as mild, 23% as moderate, 5% as severe, and 11% as non-recovery (in which the animal is anaesthetised and never woken up).[6]

In 2014, animal activists released graphic undercover footage of monkeys being used for brain research in Germany, provoking a public outcry. The monkeys in the video were bloodied, obviously distressed, and some were left in cages without food or water to make them compliant with the experimental procedures.[7]

A 2009 German opinion poll found that 89% of Germans agreed that the European Union protection laws should forbid all animal testing that causes pain and suffering.[8]

Animal activism[edit]

The Albert Schweitzer Foundation for Our Contemporaries (ASF) is a German animal non-profit focused on helping farmed animals through corporate outreach campaigns to adopt higher-welfare policies (e.g. cage-free eggs), vegan outreach, and other activities. As of 2016 it is one of Animal Charity Evaluators' Standout Charities.[9]

SOKO Tierschutz is a German animal rights organization which conducts undercover investigations of farms and animal research laboratories. In December 2014, SOKO Tierschutz organized around 800 people to protest against research on non-human primates in Germany.[10]

See also[edit]


By country[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f World Animal Protection (November 2, 2014). "Germany". Retrieved July 28, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ "German Livestock". Retrieved July 28, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "EU Pig Population - 2011". May 11, 2012. Retrieved July 28, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Emma Henderson (May 25, 2016). "German court rules killing day-old live male chicks does not contravene their animal rights". Retrieved July 28, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  5. ^ "How many Veggies ... ?". European Vegetarian Union. Archived from the original on 1 March 2009. Retrieved 17 May 2009. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ Speaking of Research. "German Animal Research Statistics". Retrieved February 7, 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Christopher Harress (September 12, 2014). "Animal Rights: Undercover Footage Shows Monkey Brain Experiments In Germany". Retrieved July 30, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ Conor Dillon (June 5, 2015). "Animal testing at odds with German public opinion". Retrieved July 30, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Animal Charity Evaluators (May 4, 2016). "Albert Schweitzer Foundation Review". Retrieved July 30, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Alison Abbott (December 22, 2014). "Animal-rights activists ramp up campaigns in Europe". Retrieved July 30, 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)