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17.03.2009 Checking on new- born lambs in the Netherlands
On our way to an investigation we came across a small flock of sheep in a field, with several new-born lambs of just a few days of age. The farmer greeted us and spoke about his sheep with admiration. They had an indoor area and a large outdoor field. One could tell that the animals were well-treated because they did not show any fright towards the farmer, if anything they approached him and stood by his side. The sheep and new-born all appeared in very good shape. We enjoyed this short visit!
Laws are in place to ensure that animals have a minimum amount of space, lighting, feed and fresh water. But farm animals are more complicated than this; they have strong desires to express their natural behaviours and range of emotions. These are largely restricted on most industrial farms, leading to mental suffering such as boredom and extreme frustration. Another welfare issue common on farms is the animal health and the quality of the environment. The barn should be clean from parasites and drafts, and sick and injured animals need to be separated and treated in a timely manner. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Eyes on Animals regularly visits farms, both large and small, free-range and industrial, to check on the general condition of the animals and the housing environment. We compare what we observe with the requirements set in the national and EU regulations. We discuss with farmers if improvements are needed and how they can be achieved.