A total of 84% of Europeans believe that the welfare of farmed animals should better protected in their country, a new Eurobarometer survey has shown.

In Ireland, 81% of survey respondents said they believe that, in general, the welfare of farmed animals should be better protected than what is currently the case.

The results published today (Thursday, October 19), were gathered in March this year from a total of 26,376 respondents from across the EU, including 1,005 people in Ireland.

In total 90% of people in Ireland think that the travel time for the transport of live animals (for commercial purposes) within or from the EU should be limited to at least some extent.

However, 6% of respondents were against any limitation. Over 90% said that improving animal welfare in slaughterhouses, for example, through the use of video cameras, is important.

Welfare of farmed animals

The practice of killing male baby chicks just after birth has been described as “totally unacceptable” by 49% of survey respondents in Ireland. This is also in line with the EU average.

EU rules on the welfare of animals at farm level do not apply for food imported from non-EU countries. 68% of people in Ireland and 62% of Europeans said the same rules should apply.

Source: European Commission

Just over 20% of Europeans think that EU animal welfare rules do not need to apply to imported food, but all food products of any origin should have labels informing on the welfare rules applied.

Further survey results on the welfare of farmed animals include:

  • Ensuring that farmed animals have enough food and an adapted environment satisfying their basic needs is very important to 77% of people in Ireland and 67% of Europeans;
  • Providing farmed animals enough space to be able to move around, lie down, and stand up is very important to 78% of people in Ireland and 65% of Europeans;
  • Banning the cutting of certain body parts of animals (tails, ears, beaks, etc.) unless necessary to protect farmers is very important to 71% of people in Ireland and 60% of Europeans;
  • Ensuring that animals are not kept in individual cages is very important to 71% of people in Ireland and 56% of Europeans.

Survey respondents could choose between the following options: “Very important”, “somewhat important”, “not very important”, “not at all important”, and “don’t know”.

Over 40%of people in Ireland would not pay more for products sourced from animal-welfare-friendly farming systems, while 29% said they would be willing to pay up to 5% more.

16% said they would be willing to pay up to 10% more, while 4% said they would pay up to 20% more. Europeans, in general, tend to be more likely to pay extra for animal-welfare-friendly produce.

The European Commission has been working on a revision of the EU’s animal welfare legislation. The proposal on the protection of animals during transport will be presented in December 2023.