Minimal (legal) standards
Every person involved in raising farm animals, their transport or slaughter has to ensure their welfare meets the requirements provided by laws of the state. These are the minimal animal welfare standards and every producer, transporter or abattoir has legal obligation to implement them.
Development of farm animal welfare legislation has become more interesting to national decision makers and international organizations. During past three decades, animal welfare issues were defined in European Union with series of regulations mostly concerning welfare of animals raised for food and animals used in research. European Commission has adopted the Community Action Plan on the protection and welfare of animals 2006-2010 followed by the Strategy for Protection and Welfare of animals 2012 – 2015 that sets the strategic goals and describes future steps in implementation. Protection of different species of farm animals is regulated by a series of directives and decisions, and at the same time, EU countries have their national legislation that operationalizes requirements from acquis communautaire in relation to raising, transport or slaughter of farm animals. In 2009, Animal Welfare Act has been passed in Serbia (“Official gazette of the Republic of Serbia”, no. 41/09), which, among other issues, regulates farm animal welfare during raising, trade, transport and slaughter. Based on the Act, a number of secondary legislation documents have also been passed, regulating the above mentioned issues in more details and supporting the implementation of the legislation. These regulations represent a framework for defining mandatory standards of animal welfare that determines minimal criteria of welfare for different species and categories of farm animals.
ORCA animal welfare standards
Considerate number of European consumers want more than minimal standards: the want to buy animal based food produced in a process where good animal welfare was ensured. That is why in EU countries there is various private food assurance schemes that can guarantee to consumers that a certain product has been produced in line with higher standards of animal welfare.
Based on the results of the national research of the state of animal welfare and on the experience in European countries, ORCA has developed its own farm animal welfare standards. ORCA standards have been developed by leading European experts in animal welfare from the Bristol University in the UK, supported by domestic experts and based of European practice and standards developed by the Royal Society for the prevention of cruelty to animals (RSPCA) in the UK. ORCA standards are related to farm animal welfare during raising on farm, i.e. their nutrition, accommodation, living environment, health and farm management. Standards related to transport and slaughter of farm animals are yet to be developed. At the same time, it should be emphasized that ORCA standards are developed as preliminary version of standards and there is still space for amendments until their official adoption.