Defra introduces second animal welfare Bill

Defra has launched a second Animal Welfare Bill, enhancing protections for kept animals in Great Britain, as part of its Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

The Bill includes new legislation covering farm animals and pets, including:

  • Live exports – Defra said the UK would become the first European country to end this practice of exporting live animals for slaughter and fattening, which it said can entail ‘excessively long journeys during export, causing distress and injury’. 
  • Livestock worrying – The Bill will give new powers to the police to provide greater protection to livestock from dangerous and out of control dogs, and extend this protection to other species such as llamas, ostriches and game birds.

There will also be a ban on keeping primates as pets, new powers to tackle puppy smuggling by reducing the number of pets (dogs, cats and ferrets) that can travel under pet travel rules and regulation to ensure that zoos are doing more to contribute to conservation.

The announcement follows the introduction of the Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill in May, which formally recognises animals as sentient beings in domestic law.

The Government will announce a series of further reforms this year related to farm animal welfare, as well as microchipping, pet theft, and tackling wildlife crime, as laid out in its Action Plan for Animal Welfare.

While the pig sector is not directly affected by the ban on exports of live animals for slaughter or fattening, Defra is set to announce new rules regarding the wider transport of animals and has confirmed it is ‘examining the use of farrowing crates’.

Defra Secretary George Eustice said: “The Kept Animals Bill will bring in some of the world’s highest and strongest protections for pets, livestock and kept wild animals.

“As an independent nation outside the EU we are now able to go further than ever on animal welfare by banning the export of live animal exports for slaughter and fattening, prohibiting keeping primates as pets and bringing in new powers to tackle puppy smuggling.

“This builds on the launch of our Action Plan for Animal Welfare and Animal Sentience Bill last month as part of our work to build on our status as a world leader on animal welfare.”

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.