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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Thirty Years of Changes and the Current State of Swedish Animal Welfare Legislation

Lundmark Hedman, Frida; Berg, Charlotte; Steen, Margareta;

Abstract

Simple Summary: Sweden is often cited as a leading country in animal welfare and related legislation, but some recent changes in the national legislation are seen as lowering the animal welfare requirements in order to improve the competitiveness of Swedish farmers. In this study, we analysed suggested changes to the Swedish welfare legislation between 1988 and 2019 relating to horses, cattle and pigs, including the written motivations, the written stakeholder responses and the actual changes to the final regulations. We used a sample of 77 legal requirements to assess in depth whether the animal welfare level was affected by these changes in the legislation. The results showed that the animal welfare requirements in Sweden for cattle, pigs and horses increased overall during the 30-year study period, but that a number of specific requirements had been relaxed to satisfy interests other than animal welfare. Thus, the new requirements should be evaluated more fully in order to determine whether they serve their purpose in practice.


Sweden is often seen as a leading country in animal welfare and legislation, but some recent amendments to the legislation are perceived as relaxing animal welfare requirements in order to improve the competitiveness of the relevant industry and of farmers. In this study, we analysed the suggested and actual changes in the Swedish national animal welfare regulations relating to horses, cattle and pigs between 1988 and 2019 and the consequences for the intended animal welfare level. The regulations and amendments, including the proposals, the written motivations, the stakeholders' written responses to the proposed amendments and the final amendments, were scrutinised in detail. A sample of 77 requirements was then selected to assess whether and how the animal welfare level was affected by these legislative changes. The results indicated that the animal welfare protection level for cattle, pigs and horses increased overall during the 30-year period, but that a number of specific requirements had been relaxed to meet objectives other than animal welfare. It was more difficult to determine whether animal welfare improved in practice during the same period, due to the lack of systematic evaluations of the consequences of amending the regulations. Future evaluations are needed to evaluate the outcome of new legislative requirements and to monitor whether they serve their purpose in practice.


Keywords

amendments; animal protection; farm animals; horses; regulations

Published in

Animals

2021, volume: 11, number: 10, article number: 2901
Publisher: MDPI

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Animal Environment and Health
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Biochemistry (AFB)

UKÄ Subject classification

Animal and Dairy Science
Law (excluding Law and Society)

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11102901

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/114391