Photo: Jack Tummers (www.spoenk.nl)
Since 2006 over 1 million animals in the Netherlands have fallen victim to barn fires (exact number is 1,142,083). Barns fall under the same jurisdiction as "light industry" and thus are not equiped with sprinkler systems nor have to follow strict regulations regarding type of building material used or safe housing of electric utilities. Organizations such as Wakker Dier in the Netherlands are shedding light on this disgrace and taking legal action so that this changes.
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.