Farmed animal welfare

Welfare standards for all farm animals are protected under the Welfare of Animals Act (Northern Ireland) 2011 (the 2011 Act) and the Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2012 (the 2012 Regulations).

Owners and keepers of farmed animals are required to comply fully with 2011 Act and ensure that the needs of their animals are met. They must also comply with the 2012 Regulations which set down minimum standards for keeping farm animals and contain specific requirements such as inspections, record keeping, freedom of movement, buildings and equipment and the feeding and watering of animals.

The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) has also published six Codes of Practice under the 2011 Act in relation to farmed animals (see Codes of Practice). These set out the minimum standards of care in respect of which persons responsible for a farmed animal are legally required to adhere.

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.

DAERA has a well-established record for the thorough and comprehensive implementation of a broad range of animal health and welfare legislation. Whilst DAERA believes in working with stakeholders to achieve compliance through education and advice, it also delivers a large programme of inspections and audits on farms, livestock markets and abattoirs to verify compliance with legislation and provide the necessary assurance to consumers and the wider public.

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