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EU 1099/2009: Legal framework cervical neck dislocation

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In Europe, animal welfare is a part of the ‘licence to operate’ for the animal production industry, and the agricultural sector is one of the most heavily regulated sectors in the EU.

Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 has come into force throughout the EU. The objective pursued by this regulation is to provide a level playing field within the internal market for all operators.

Cervical neck dislocation is the traditional method of killing poultry on the farm. What changed after the Regulation 1099/2009 came into force at January 1, 2013 is that farmers are no longer allowed to use neck dislocation as routine method under emergency conditions to kill sick and cripple animals on the farm.

Many farmers lack information about alternative systems and often do not see any advantage in changing their processes, euthanizing sick and cripple animals in a more welfare friendly manner.

An important problem is that the use of modern, more advanced animal welfare friendly systems of production often conflicts with economic pressure on operators to reduce costs. Not applying to administrative laws is a serious offense, usually sanctioned with high financial penalties.

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EU 1099/2009: Legal framework cervical neck dislocation

  1. 1. Cervical Neck Dislocation The legal framework according to Directive EU 1099/2009 ABSTRACT In Europe, animal welfare is a part of the ‘licence to operate’ for the animal production industry, and the agricultural sector is one of the most heavily regulated sectors in the EU. Regulation (EC) No 1099/2009 has come into force throughout the EU. The objective pursued by this regulation is to provide a level playing field within the internal market for all operators. Cervical neck dislocation is the traditional method of killing poultry on the farm. What changed after the Regulation 1099/2009 came into force at January 1, 2013 is that farmers are no longer allowed to use neck dislocation as routine method under emergency conditions to kill sick and cripple animals on the farm. Many farmers lack information about alternative systems and often do not see any advantage in changing their processes, euthanizing sick and cripple animals in a more welfare friendly manner. An important problem is that the use of modern, more advanced animal welfare friendly systems of production often conflicts with economic pressure on operators to reduce costs. Not applying to administrative laws is a serious offense, usually sanctioned with high financial penalties. Keywords: Culling, cervical neck dislocation, EU 1099/2009, poultry, welfare, EEG, AVT, Harm Kiezebrink AVT Applied Veterinary Technologies Europe AB Harm Kiezebrink Address details: c/o INTRED, Södra Hamnen 2, 45142 Uddevalla, Sweden Org.nr: 556792-1944 - Phone: +44 7452 272 358- E-mail: harm.kie@gmail.com
  2. 2. Cervical neck dislocation: The legal framework/EU Directive 1099/2009 After EU Directive 1099/2009 came into power on January 1, 2013 throughout the EU, the traditional use of cervical neck dislocation is not allowed as standard method of killing poultry. Cervical neck dislocation is a manual method of killing by swiftly stretching the neck of a bird while bending the head back to dislocate the cervical vertebra, rupture the spinal cord, and damage the major blood vessels between the heart and brain, resulting in death from lack of oxygen to the brain. The signs of applying cervical neck dislocation effectively are:  No rhythmic breathing  Completely limp carcass  Loss of the nictitating membrane (third eyelid) reflex  Dilated pupils Culling by hand put demands on the physical strength and the execution is most likely objectionable to the executer. The correct execution can’t be guaranteed and the stress that it creates to catch, transport, restrain and cull birds manually are the main reasons why cervical neck dislocation is unsuitable for culling large flocks of poultry. In case cervical neck dislocation is considered as a backup system, it is restricted:  No more than 70 birds per day/ per person  Qualified staff with sufficient training/instruction  Birds not greater than 5 kg live weight; manual cervical neck dislocation is limited to 2 birds not greater than 3 kg live weight  Crushing the neck with mechanical devices such as castrating pliers (burdizzos) causes internal damage to the blood vessels and does not have the same effect as cervical neck dislocation. It is neither quick nor humane and should therefore pliers not be used. Legal requirements for killing poultry on the farm According to the Regulation, the farmer as the animal holder is responsible for emergency killing on the farm: 1. Article 1 describes that the regulation is valid for all production animals, that includes farms 2. Article 2, under d) describes the need to killing of animals that are sick or injured and that suffer, without an alternative solution to treat these animals or to ease their pain or suffering 3. Article 19 describes that the animal holder has to be prepared to cull his animals in case of an emergency 4. Article 3 describes the general requirements for killing and related operations 1. Animals shall be spared any avoidable pain, distress or suffering during their killing and related operations.
  3. 3. 3 The execution of this killing depends for 100% on the skills of the executor, and in order to comply with the Regulation, farmers need to ensure their workers are competent to kill animals without causing stress or pain. Legal restrictions to use cervical neck dislocation Cervical neck dislocation is the traditional method of killing poultry on the farm. What changed after the Regulation came into force is that farmers are no longer allowed to use neck dislocation as routine method under emergency conditions to kill sick and cripple animals on the farm. In Annex 1 of EU Regulation 1099/2009 (referring to Art 4,) under 5.3 describes that: – Cervical neck dislocation shall not be used as routine method but only where there are no other methods available for stunning – Cervical neck dislocation shall not be used in slaughterhouses except as a back-up method for stunning – No person shall kill more than seventy animals per day by manual cervical dislocation or percussive blow to the head – Manual cervical dislocation shall not be used on animals of more than 3 kg live weight Since the Regulation does not allow cervical neck dislocation as routine method, operators (including farmers) need to apply other methods that are listed in ANNEX 1, such as electrical methods, gas methods or other methods, like lethal injection (applied by a vet). They also need to describe the use of these methods in Standard Operating Procedures. Article 6: 1. Business operators shall plan in advance the killing of animals and related operations and shall carry them out in accordance with standard operating procedures. 2. Business operators shall draw up and implement such standard operating procedures to ensure that killing and related operations are carried out in accordance with Article 3(1). These administrative parameters make it much easier for veterinary authorities to control the implementation of Regulation 1099/2009 by farmers. Administrative law Regulation1099/2009 is based on the principles of administrative law. Administrative law encompasses laws and legal principles governing the administration and regulation of government agencies and gives veterinary authorities of the member states a powerful tool to enforce welfare legislation on farms. Based on the principle of legality, farmers have to provide the proof what kind of technique they use to kill sick and cripple animals. In other words, they have to provide evidence what primary technique they replaced with, since cervical neck dislocation is no longer allowed as primary method of killing.
  4. 4. Passive reaction of the industry The industry is still not encouraged to replace the traditional system by other on-farm emergency culling systems, as this would imply new investments and additional production costs. Ignoring the EU legislation could well be a poor way to respond. This ‘don’t tell – don’t ask’ mentality might have worked in the past, but it is not likely that it will do so in the future, especially since the EU has specifically restricted the use of cervical neck dislocation. All the more reasons for the industry not to be open about how they treat sick and cripple animals or animals that loose there economic value and are killed for that reason. The role of the retailers and food processors Consumers are increasingly seeking out, “animal welfare friendly” and transparent food supplies as the Internet changes shoppers’ demands for knowledge of farming and food production. Retailers and food processors like Unileveri and Nestleii recognized that animal welfare could either be part of competitive advantage if properly marketed. Focusing production to high margin products and development of know-how on animal welfare contributes to safeguard profitability where competition on price has become unsustainable. For this reason, food processors and retailers require their suppliers to comply with detailed welfare standards specified by them, incorporating animal welfare within the Corporate Social Responsibility structure. In this way they demonstrate their appreciation and commitment for animal welfare and health and at the same time welfare and food quality. They employ independent auditors like the Humane Slaughter Association HSAiii to ensure that their suppliers adhere to these specific welfare standards. The phenomenon of including animal welfare as part of a procurement policy is particularly noticeable in the UK but not exclusively. UK farmers, and also farmers who provide products to the UK market need to be accredited to these specific farm assurance schemes, demanding a level of welfare that are based on the standards set by the independent auditors that in may cases exceed de legal demands. 4 i http://www.thepoultrysite.com/poultrynews/33116/unilever-to-end-culling-of-day-old- chicks-in-egg-supply-chain ii http://www.fwi.co.uk/articles/16/09/2014/146719/global-food-businesses-focus-on-laying- hen-standards.htm iii http://www.hsa.org.uk/our-work-introduction/our-work

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