Farmed and non-farmed animal welfare

Information and guidance for owners and keepers of both farmed and non-farmed animals including information on inspections, record keeping, freedom of movement, buildings, equipment, feeding and the watering of farmed animals, as well as suitable environments, diets, normal behaviour patterns and protection for non-farmed animals.

Farmed animal welfare

Owners and keepers of farmed animals are required to comply fully with domestic legislation (The Welfare of Farmed Animals (NI) Regulations 2012), which sets down minimum standards for keeping farm animals and contains specific requirements such as inspections, record keeping, freedom of movement, buildings and equipment and the feeding and watering of animals.

The Northern Ireland Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Livestock provide advice and guidance for the upkeep of farm animals and details of relevant legislation.

Livestock farmers and employers are required by law to ensure that all those attending to their livestock are familiar with, and have access to, the relevant codes.

Codes of Practice have been published during 2013/2014 for a number of farmed animals.

Non-farmed animal welfare

The Welfare of Animals Act 2011 in respect of non-farmed animals is enforced by District Councils. However, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has developed Codes of Practice for non-farmed animals.

The Codes of Practice on the welfare of non-farmed animals are issued under powers in Section 16 of the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (“the Act”). The Codes provide advice and guidance on the welfare of cats, dogs, rabbits, horses and primates. Each code is based on the five freedoms.

You must take all reasonable steps to ensure that you meet the animal’s needs including:

  • its need for a suitable environment
  • its need for a suitable diet
  • its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns
  • any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals
  • its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease

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