Some 1,600 Dutch farmers now rear chickens and pigs under the ‘Beter Leven’ trade-mark, which indicates better living conditions for the animals.
The scheme was launched ten years ago when six poultry farmers gave their hens more room and a covered outdoor space to forage, so qualifying for the trade mark just launched by animal protection group Dierenbescherming.
By 2012 the number of participating farms had reached 800 and now 31 million animals are being reared under ‘better life’ conditions, broadcaster NOS said on Thursday. The trade mark has a three-star system – the more stars the better the way the animals are reared.
Despite the shift to more animal friendly farms, some 2,500 Dutch poultry, pig and other farmers still offer their animals no additional facilities, NOS said. Much of their meat is sent abroad to countries where animal welfare is not as high on the agenda.
‘We are leading the way in the Netherlands, but we are not yet done,’ Niels Dorland of Dierenbescherming told NOS. ‘We have to keep on going because 2,500 is still far too many.’
Earlier this month, animal rights lobby group Wakker Dier said supermarkets are still not doing enough to encourage the sale of chicken with a quality label and some are selling more of the cheapest meat to produce.
The organisation conducted a random test among 12 big supermarket chains and found that two thirds of chicken products did not have any form of quality label. ‘That means supermarkets are promoting the sale of chickens raised in the poorest circumstances,’ a Wakker Dier spokesperson said.
Almost 30% of chicken products now have some form of quality label, up seven percentage points compared to last year. But given that last year’s increase was 25%, this year’s figures are not good news, the organisation said.