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The reference center for the welfare of poultry and other small farm animals is underway with the participation of IRTA

  • It provides scientific and technical assistance to the European Commission and its Member States in the official implementation and control of animal welfare regulations
  • It will focus mainly on broilers, layers and turkeys, while other species such as rabbit will be dealt with on demand

 The EURCAW-Small Animals or European Reference Center for the Welfare for poultry and other small farmed animals started operating on February 2020. Its main objective is to provide support to the European Commission and Member States in the official implementation and control of animal welfare regulations. IRTA is part of the consortium of institutions that constitute this Reference Center.

“Among other tasks, the Reference Center provides coordinated assistance, reviews indicators on well-being, undertakes research and prepares training material for official veterinarians; it will also launch a webpage aimed at answering questions and inquiries from the European member states”, explains Antonio Velarde, head of IRTA’s Animal Welfare research programme and deputy coordinator of the EU Platform on Animal Welfare.

During its first two years of operation, the EURCAW-Small Animals’ activities will focus on poultry welfare. Other species such as rabbit will be dealt with on demand.

Regarding poultry welfare, the five priority areas of work as set by the European Commission are:

  1. Welfare of broilers on farms
  2. Alternative systems for layers
  3. Stunning through water bath for broilers and turkeys
  4. Transport for slaughtering broilers, turkeys and spent laying hens
  5. Slaughter of spent laying hens on farms

The EURCAW-Small Species’ goals are to give technical support and coordinated assistance to EU countries when conducting official controls in the field of animal welfare and to help spread good practice. To do so, it will provide scientific and technical expertise, and conduct studies and develop methods aimed at improving and evaluating animals’ welfare. To ensure the transfer of knowledge and innovative strategies, the centers will also be responsible for disseminating their results and providing training to the relevant European authorities.

The EURCAW-Small Species is a consortium formed by the Institute of AgriFood Research (IRTA), the Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire de l’Alimentation-ANSES (France), the Aarhus Universitet-Institut for Husdyrvidenskab (Denmark), and the Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia Romagna (Italy), and was designated by the European Commission to be the EU Reference Center for the welfare of small species (poultry, rabbits and others).