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Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry (ITT)

Animal welfare monitoring in organic agriculture – improving animal welfare and making it transparent (ÖKoTier)

Animal friendly and sustainable husbandry

Duration: 01.07.2023 -30.06.2026

Funding: Funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) on the basis of a decision of the German Bundestag within the framework of the Bundesprogramm Ökologischer Landbau

Organic animal husbandry provides animals with a range of opportunities to express their natural behaviours. This does not guarantee good welfare, though, which is why animal welfare is also inspected on farms. Until now, inspections mainly include management- and resource-based indicators, even though only animal-based indicators can tell how well animals really are. Assessing animal-based indicators, however, is very time-consuming. The ÖKoTier consortium is therefore developing an evaluation procedure that will allow the welfare of animals on organic farms to be assessed in a time-efficient yet meaningful way.

Organic farms have to be certified in order to market their products organically. For this purpose, regular inspections are carried out to ensure that the farms comply with the EU Organic Regulation. Regarding animal welfare, those inspections currently only regard the conditions under which animals are kept, for example how much space is provided and whether they have access to pasture or an outdoor run. Yet, such provisions do not guarantee good animal welfare. How well animals really are, can only be assessed directly from the animals themselves. This can be done using animal-based indicators, such as abnormal behaviour, injuries or lameness.

The recording of animal-based indicators is, however, very time-consuming. Enabling organic inspectors to nevertheless include them into organic certification inspections is the aim of the ÖKoTier project („Animal welfare monitoring in organic agriculture - improving animal welfare and making it transparent “). The development of such an animal welfare inspection procedure for cattle, pigs, poultry, goats and sheep includes the following tasks:

  • To select animal welfare indicators for risk-oriented stepwise use within organic animal welfare inspections
  • To create trainings for inspectors in order to ensure objective and reliable assessment of animal welfare indicators
  • To develop a method for selecting organic farms that especially considers farms which higher risk of impaired welfare
  • To develop an evaluation framework and improved procedures for steps to be taken in case of exceeded welfare thresholds
  • To test the evaluation procedure: selected indicators, trainings, assessment on-farm etc

Project partners

This project is a close cooperation between the following research institutions, organic farming associations and organic inspection bodies:

  • Thünen-Institute of Organic Farming (overall coordination)
  • Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry
  • University of Kassel, Farm Animal Behaviour and Husbandry Section
  • Bioland Beratung GmbH
  • Naturland e.V.
  • Biokreis e.V.
  • Gäa e.V.
  • Gesellschaft für Ressourcenschutz (GfRS )
  • Kontrollgesellschaft Ökologischer Landbau mbH

The Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry within Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut is responsible for the sub-projects Pigs and Data management.

Woman in white overall with clipboard observes young pigs in outdoor run with straw.

Animal observations (© FLI)


Dr. Antje Schubbert, Dr. Sabine Dippel
Institut für Tierschutz und Tierhaltung im Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut, Celle
Tel.: 05141 3846-123, -200

Mail: antje.schubbert@~@fli.de, sabine.dippel@~@fli.de

Overall project coordination:

Thünen Institut für ökologischen Landbau


Dr. Sally Lühken

Annika Hinze, Ph.D.

M.Sc. Cindy Nyanzi