1061 views 1 commentupdate:Oct 8, 2007

Animal Protection and Ostriches in the EU

Eduardo Carbajo
The EU Council Directive 98/58 "concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes" states that animal breeding should avoid procedures that cause suffering or injury to any of the animals concerned.

The EU Council Directive 98/58 "concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes" states that animal breeding should avoid procedures that cause suffering or injury to any of the animals concerned.
The Directive prohibits the breeding of animals if it causes detrimental effects on the animal's health or welfare. Improving ostrich management and breeding methods and avoiding some detrimental effects on ostrich health and welfare (ie abnormal behaviour like chick pecking, or stress-related diseases like proventricular impaction) is possible.
It also prohibits the keeping of animals for farming purposes "unless it can reasonably be expected, on the basis of its genotype or phenotype, that it can be kept without detrimental effect on its health or welfare", this should not be evaluated solely on the basis of management procedures or the farm owner's responsibility. The degree of adaptation and versatility of each species should not be forgotten when implementing high protection directives.
Therefore more studies are needed to:

- avoid some of those negative effects, ie in-breeding related, probably skeletal deformities in ostriches
- improve ostrich genetic selection, ie breeder stocks for meat-aptitude phenotype
- as well as reproduction technical management, ie artificial incubation and insemination.


Fortunately recent studies show the viability of rearing ostriches: how they adapt to weather and react to the external conditions, modifying their behaviour
This is an indispensable requirement and the first step for adaptation. So if EU ostrich production needs protection standards, there should be two standards, considering that ostriches are at the beginning of adaptation:

1) to provide facilities extensive keeping with enough activity for the first days of life, including daily pasture grazing and appropriate food and,
2) to avoid behaviour disorders, especially in chicks.


The compliance of other higher protection standards included in the Directive depends on research development under different climatic and management conditions, and, of course, EU funding.
I am sure EU Veterinary Inspectors will agree that in ostrich farming adapting to captivity is not only dependent on protection and management procedures, but also on advance in ostrich research under scientists responsibility.
Question

Artificially bred methods can cause partial changes in an ostrich's natural behaviour, ie more pecking behaviours in chicks up to 14 days of life . Could this be interpreted as a lack of adaptation that affects animal protection or a husbandry related mistake?

Abstract:
Ostrich Protection - related papers and articles
Ostrich Farming in Germany - a welfare issue by Dr.C.Wöhr , Germany: in English
Directive 98/58 EC Animal protection: in English:
Event: XIV World Ostrich Congress 2007 , Latvia 19-20th October

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One comment

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    Marcelo García, Chile

    según mi experiencia el picoteo a tan temprana edad debe estar relacionado a la densidad de animales por metro cuadrado y a una conducta de aprendizaje facil de manejar y solucionar.

    Atte.
    Marcelo García
    Ingeniero Agropecuario, Chile

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