„Did you know that Austria is one of the countries with the highest animal welfare and food standards?“, Minister Köstinger, who is responsible for agriculture, regions and tourism, recently claimed in a broadcast. With the pictures of the pigs on fully slatted floors in your head, you have to ask yourself what the conditions are for animals in other countries when you certify that they are extremely well-being in Austria.
After all, more than 60% of the pigs in Austria live on so-called fully slatted floors. This means that you have to spend 6 months of continuous life on a hard, sharp-edged concrete floor that allows a living being weighing 75 kg just 0.5 m2 of space. There are crevices in the concrete floors through which the animals push their excrement. This means that they have to vegetate on their own waste for 6 months, without sunlight and with far too little space. They constantly have to breathe the fumes. The pungent ammonia odor causes them to have eye infections. Inhalation leads to pneumonia. The hard floor causes joint inflammation in animals without fur. In addition, the intelligent animals are boring because they cannot live out their natural play and activity instinct. Aggression is the result. They nibble off each other’s ears and tails. One in four pigs doesn’t even survive the 6-month fattening period. That is absolutely the highest animal welfare standard.
But how does it actually feel to live on such a fully slatted floor? Activists wanted to know and spent 24 hours on this underground. Under easier conditions, of course, because they were neither exposed to the crampedness nor the stench, could leave the place at any time and could go home after the 24 hours and spend the next night in their own bed. And yet it was a sobering experience, because after a few hours it was no longer possible to find a position that could be described as pleasant. The joints ached after just such a short time. It was also extremely boring. Now and then you could talk to people, but during the night there was simply nothing to do and sleep was hard to think of. Boredom, frustration and pain, that’s how you could sum up the experience on these fully slatted floors.
Anyone who claims that fully slatted floors are physically pleasant should try it on themselves. Preferably in a stable between the animals. It is more than questionable whether, after this experience, one can still share the Minister’s opinion that Austria has the highest animal welfare standards. Of course, it is also exciting that it is not those who treat sentient creatures who are criminalized, but those who bring it to light. There is a reason that these machinations take place behind closed stable doors and best no one should see it.
That is why the VGT advocates compulsory straw bedding for our fellow creatures. If you want that too, then sign the VGT’s petition.