Protection of farmed animals

Protection of farmed animals

Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Protection of farmed animals


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Food safety > Animal welfare

Protection of farmed animals

Document or Iniciative

Council Directive 98/58/EC of 20 July 1998 concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes [See amending act(s)].


All the Member States have ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes, the main provisions of which relate to the provision of housing, feed and care appropriate to the needs of these animals.

Member States must take account of these animal welfare requirements when drawing up and implementing European legislation, especially in the area of agricultural policy.


This Directive applies to animals (including fish, reptiles and amphibians) reared or kept for the production of food, wool, skin or fur or for other farming purposes. It does not apply to:

  • wild animals;
  • animals intended for use in sporting or cultural events (shows);
  • experimental or laboratory animals;
  • invertebrate animals.

Rearing conditions

The Member States must adopt provisions to ensure that the owners or keepers of animals look after the welfare of their animals and see that they are not caused any unnecessary pain, suffering or injury. Based on past experience and present scientific knowledge, the rearing conditions relate to the following:

  • staff: animals must be looked after by a sufficient number of staff who have the appropriate professional skills, knowledge and competence;
  • inspections: all animals kept in husbandry systems must be inspected at least once a day. Injured or ill animals must be treated immediately and isolated if necessary in suitable premises;
  • maintaining records: the owner or keeper of the animals must keep a record of any medical treatment for at least three years;
  • freedom of movement: all animals, even if tethered, chained or confined, must be given enough space to move without unnecessary suffering or injury;
  • buildings and accommodation: materials used in the construction of buildings must be capable of being cleaned and disinfected. Air circulation, dust levels, temperature and relative humidity should be kept within acceptable limits. Animals kept in buildings must not be kept in permanent darkness or constantly exposed to artificial lighting;
  • automatic or mechanical equipment: automatic or mechanical equipment essential for the health and well-being of the animals must be inspected at least once a day. Where an artificial ventilation system is in use, an appropriate backup system must be in place to guarantee sufficient air renewal;
  • feed, water and other substances: the animals must be given a wholesome and appropriate diet, fed to them in sufficient quantities and at regular intervals. All other substances are prohibited, unless given for therapeutic or prophylactic reasons or for the purposes of zootechnical treatment. In addition, the feeding and watering equipment must minimise the risks of contamination;
  • mutilations: national rules on mutilation apply;
  • rearing methods: rearing methods that cause suffering or injury must not be used unless their impact is minimal, brief or expressly allowed by the national authorities. No animal should be kept on a farm if it is harmful to its health or welfare.


Member States must take the necessary steps to ensure that the competent national authorities carry out inspections. They must report on these inspections to the Commission, which will use the reports to formulate proposals on harmonising inspections.

Evaluation and implementation

Every five years the Commission must report to the Council on the implementation of this Directive, with proposals for improvement, if appropriate. The Council adopts this report by qualified majority vote.

The Member States had to introduce the legislative, regulatory and administrative provisions (including any penalties) needed to comply with this Directive by 31 December 1999. They are allowed to keep or introduce stricter provisions.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 98/58/EC



OJ L 221 of 8.8.1998

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Regulation (EC) No



OJ L 122 of 16.5.2003

The successive amendments and corrections to Directive 98/58/EC have been incorporated into the original text. This consolidated versionis for reference only.

Related Acts

Report from the Commission of 19 December 2006 on the experience acquired on the implementation of Directive 98/58/EC on the protection of animals kept for farming purposes [COM(2006) 838 final – Not published in the Official Journal].

In this report the Commission refers to the need for Member States to improve the planning and performance of inspections and the recording and transparency of inspection results. It emphasises the necessity of more training for the staff of the authorities concerned and a better notification system. It is also important to simplify procedures in order to avoid excessive bureaucracy.

Commission Decision 2006/778/EC of 14 November 2006 concerning minimum requirements for the collection of information during the inspections of production sites on which certain animals are kept for farming purposes [Official Journal L 314 of 15.11.2006].

Commission Decision 2000/50/EC of 17 December 1999 concerning minimum requirements for the inspection of holdings on which animals are kept for farming purposes [Official Journal L 19 of 25.01.2000].

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