What purpose do emus serve
Animal welfare; Minimum requirements for keeping ostriches (African ostriches, emus, rheas and cassowaries)
- Lower Saxony -
From December 09, 2020
(Nds.MBl. No. 55 of December 9th, 2020 p. 1529)
Archive: 2005, 2008, 2015
RdErl. D. ML v. 12/9/2020 - 204-42507 / 86-77 - VORIS 78530 -
1. When assessing the keeping of ostriches for compliance with the requirements of § 2 of the Animal Welfare Act, the competent authority adopted the European Convention for the Protection of Animals in Agricultural Keeping, Recommendation for the Keeping of Ostriches, on April 22, 1997 (Bek. of 07.02.2000, BAnz No. 89 a of 11.05.2000) - in the following: Recommendation of the Council of Europe - to be observed (see number 1.1 of the general administrative regulation for the implementation of the Animal Welfare Act of 09.02.2000 [BAnz No. 36 a of 22.02. 2000] in conjunction with Article 9, Paragraph 3, Clause 2 of the Act on the European Convention of March 10, 1976 for the Protection of Animals in Agricultural Keeping of Animals of January 25, 1978 [Federal Law Gazette II p. 113] last amended by Article 597 of the ordinance of August 31, 2015 [Federal Law Gazette I p. 1474]).
The Council of Europe recommendation sets minimum standards.
In addition, the report on the minimum requirements for keeping ostriches, rheas, emus and cassowaries issued by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (as of March 2019) should be consulted (Appendix). With regard to animal welfare, relevant minimum requirements for the keeping of ostriches based on current knowledge and experience are presented. It specifies the requirements laid down in Section 2 of the Animal Welfare Act with regard to keeping ostriches.
2. This RdErl. Comes into force on 1.1.2021 and expires on 31.12.2026.
|Expert opinion on the minimum requirements for keeping ostriches, rheas, emus and cassowaries||investment|
Scope and legal status of the expert opinion
In this report, relevant minimum requirements for the keeping of ostriches are presented with regard to animal welfare according to the current state of knowledge and experience. It specifies the requirements laid down in Section 2 of the Animal Welfare Act with regard to keeping ostriches. It is addressed to the competent authorities of the federal states and the animal owners. As an anticipated expert opinion, it is intended to support animal owners, competent authorities and courts in deciding whether animal husbandry complies with the provisions of the law.
The requirements apply in particular to
- Enclosures or similar facilities in which these animals are kept, including keeping them for agricultural purposes,
- Zoos and similar establishments,
- Animal enclosure and
- private and commercial growers.
They do not apply to keeping in the context of animal experiments and during veterinary treatment if, in the opinion of the veterinarian, other requirements are to be placed on the keeping.
Ostriches in the sense of this report are:
- African ostriches (ostrich [Struthio camelus] and Somali ostrich [Struthio molybdophanes]),
- Emus (Emu [Dromaius novaehollandiae]),
- Rheas (Rhea americana and Darwin's rhea [Pterocnemia pennata])
- and cassowaries (cassowary [Casuarius casuarius], Bennet cassowary [Casuarius bennetti] and single-lobed cassowary [Casuarius unappendiculatus]).
Zoos within the meaning of this report are facilities in accordance with Section 42 (1) of the Federal Nature Conservation Act. According to this, zoos are permanent facilities in which live animals of wild species are kept for display for a period of at least seven days a year.
Animal enclosures in the sense of this report are facilities in accordance with Section 43 (1) of the Federal Nature Conservation Act. According to this, animal enclosures are permanent facilities in which animals of wild species are kept outside of residential and commercial buildings for a period of at least seven days a year and which are not a zoo within the meaning of Section 42 (1).
In individual cases, animal-friendly husbandry may deviate from the requirements of this report (e.g. in the case of physically impaired animals). In these cases, the animal owner must be able to provide evidence for the respective animal that keeping the animal in accordance with the specifications of this report is disadvantageous for the animal.
Other legal areas, such as animal health law or species protection law, remain unaffected by the requirements of this report and must be observed by the animal owner.
The present report replaces the report "Minimum requirements for the keeping of ostriches, except kiwis" issued by the then Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Forests on June 10, 1994. Insofar as the present report places stricter requirements on the husbandry than earlier stipulations, the executing authorities are advised to define transitional provisions and deadlines for fulfilling the requirements that are appropriate for the respective individual case. For new buildings and conversions that have not yet been approved at the time this report was published, the animal welfare assessments must be based on the specifications of this report.
There is no protection of the population if the animals kept in these facilities are for reasons of husbandry
- Pain that can indicate tissue damage, for example,
- Ailments that can indicate behavioral disorders or metabolic disorders, for example, or
to be established.
Even with existing stock protection, the livestock owner has to bring about further optimization of the keeping conditions in the event of deviations through suitable compensation measures. For structural or structural changes
A schedule that takes into account the necessity of the measures must be drawn up until the requirements are finally implemented. The compensation measures and the schedule should be agreed with the official veterinarian.
The commercial breeding or keeping of vertebrates, with the exception of farm animals, is subject to a permit in accordance with Section 11 (1) number 8a of the Animal Welfare Act. Ostriches are not considered to be agricultural animals within the meaning of Section 11 (1) of the Animal Welfare Act (cf. Section 220.127.116.11.1 of the General Administrative Regulations for the Implementation of the Animal Welfare Act), so that keeping and breeding them is subject to a permit requirement. This means that anyone who wants to breed or keep ostriches on a commercial basis requires the approval of the competent authority. If they or their offspring are kept for the production of food or for other agricultural purposes, ostriches are, however, livestock within the meaning of Section 2 number 1 of the Animal Welfare and Livestock Keeping Ordinance, so that this Ordinance also applies in accordance with Section 1 (1) for commercial purposes. The general requirements of Sections 3 and 4 of the Animal Welfare and Farm Animal Husbandry Ordinance must therefore be complied with when keeping ostriches for the purposes mentioned.
Biological principles and general requirements
The groups of birds dealt with here are flightless, large, long-necked ratites in Africa, Australia, South America and New Guinea, the demands of which are often the same. Ostriches are diurnal and have excellent hearing. You can run persistently and develop a high speed in danger. They try to avoid contact with predators (predators) as much as possible through high vigilance in connection with their good eyesight. In situations that are unfamiliar to them or when faced with unknowns, they quickly panic. Although they usually flee in danger, they defend themselves in hopeless situations with their strong legs by kicking them. Even hand-reared ostriches can, as adult animals, have a tendency to flee, panic and defensive reactions towards humans and everything unknown.
African ostriches, emus and rheas live in the savannah and open grasslands, cassowaries, on the other hand, in the rainforest. They claim territories (districts), the size of which depends on the forage base and water resources. These are defended. African ostriches live in groups of a rooster and up to 3 or 4 hens during the mating season. The size of the area is approx. 2 to 15 km depending on the livelihood2. One of the female animals fights for the rank of main hen, although this can change several times in the course of a breeding season depending on the condition of the hens. All female animals are mated and lay their eggs in the common nest. The hatchery business is done by animals of both sexes, with roosters incubating at night and hens during the day.
African ostriches have been found in agricultural ostrich husbandry since around 1830. With regard to keeping, transport and, if necessary, killing, it should be noted that bred ostriches are also considered wild birds.
No wild ostrich caught in the wild may be kept for agricultural, commercial or private purposes. Furthermore, no ostrich may be kept if the requirements of this report cannot be complied with or if the animal cannot adapt to human care despite meeting these requirements without its well-being being impaired.
The following minimum requirements are the basis for keeping ostriches in accordance with animal welfare, regardless of the reasons for which they are kept.
Ostriches should not be used for purposes such as public demonstrations. In particular, ostriches should not be ridden or run in races or displayed in changing locations.
Anyone who keeps or looks after ostriches must have knowledge of the biology of these animals, their behavior, their demands on keeping, nutrition and care as well as how to handle the animals (e.g. catching them). This is the only way to quickly identify signs of illness, stress, behavioral problems and intolerance in the group and to counteract them appropriately. Sufficient expertise and continuous training of the animal owner are essential prerequisites for animal welfare.
Proof of the necessary technical knowledge and skills of the person responsible is a prerequisite for issuing a permit to keep and breed ostriches in accordance with Section 11 Paragraph 1 Number 8 Letter a of the Animal Welfare Act. Proof of technical knowledge and skills includes theoretical knowledge as well as practical skills (through training or through previous handling of animals, e.g. through an internship in a company or a practical course). Because of the special requirements, a corresponding certificate of competence should be required for keeping ostriches with rearing.
I. African ostriches
I.1. Housing the ostrich
Depending on the subspecies, male ostriches reach a size (head height) of over 2.50 m, females over 2.00 m. Male ostriches weigh between 90 and 140 kg, female ostriches between 80 and 120 kg.
In Africa, ostriches rarely live to be 20 years old in the wild. Ostriches kept on African farms reach an average age of 20 to 25 years. But there are also reports of animals that are said to have become significantly older than 30 years. Occasional reports of more than 60 years of life are reported, but these reports cannot be verified.
In Europe, farm ostriches also reach an average age of around 20 to 25 years, in exceptional cases up to 30 years. In one case, an ostrich is reported that was originally kept in a zoo and then kept for a short time by a private individual. He is said to have reached an age of 70 years.
Adult male ostriches develop a protective instinct and can become so aggressive during the breeding season that they are dangerous to handle. The chicks flee the nest and leave the nest within a few days. You will be accompanied and protected by a fully grown animal for up to 9 months.
Ostriches are socially living birds and should therefore be kept in enclosures and at least in pairs, better in groups. Adult, sexually mature male African ostriches should be kept together with at least one, but preferably with 2 (so-called "trios") or more adult hens.
The extraordinary adaptability of ostriches to their respective surroundings and their special living conditions is also evident in their sexual maturity, laying maturity and the courtship season. Hens in barren and rather hot regions do not start to lay eggs until they are 3-4 years old, but on green pastures in the temperate climate of Central Europe they start laying eggs at 18-20 months. In southern Africa, roosters are ready for breeding at 4-5 years of age, while roosters in Central Europe are already around 2 years old.
This can lead to the fact that a young rooster, which is actually still in its "puberty phase" in terms of age, can become life-threatening aggressive towards hens of the same age who are not yet willing to reproduce. In this case, this rooster must be kept alone until it has put an end to this age-related misconduct, or older hens willing to mate must be served. The reproductive ability of farm ostriches is influenced less by the climatic conditions than by the type of use and the forage basis of the respective region. If kept extensively in a barren environment, a hen can lay fertilized eggs for up to 10 years. With the semi-intensive keeping on a good feed base, which is common in Europe, reproductive capacity is extended to up to 25 years (average: approx. 15-20 years). In the case of intensive husbandry with food and light stimulation to shorten the seasonal laying break (Namibia, Israel), reproductive capacity is reduced to 3-5 years.
In farm animal husbandry, the age groups of ostriches are defined as follows:
- Day chicks: 1st week of life,
- Chicks: 2nd week of life until the end of the 2nd month,
- Young animals: 3rd month to the end of the 11th month,
- Yearlings (from whose circle the offspring will be recruited): 12th month to the end of the 24th month,
- Animals for slaughter: 12 months until they are ready for slaughter,
- Breeding and adult animals: from reaching sexual maturity (approx. 24 months for hens and approx. 30 months for roosters).
During the day, apart from resting, ostriches constantly roam their territory to eat. They should therefore always be kept on the pasture, with a shelter or stable that is always accessible to protect them against extreme weather conditions. If it is not possible to keep them on non-drained natural soil due to limited spatial conditions in zoos and game enclosures, they must be kept in an enclosure on drained soil, in which the possibility of being able to express their species-specific behavior and adequate feeding is ensured.
Any longer form of stable housing is in violation of animal welfare, does not meet the requirements of Section 2 of the Animal Welfare Act and can only be tolerated in exceptional cases in the context of animal diseases by order of the competent authority or in individual cases with a veterinary indication. Short-term stalling is to be limited to exceptional cases and may only take place in extreme weather conditions such as thunderstorms, black ice or heavy rain.
Enclosures are to be set up in such a way that they do not restrict the species-appropriate movement of the ostrich. When fleeing, e.g. from higher-ranking animals, ostriches try to escape by running quickly and making hook-like turns. The enclosure must therefore offer the opportunity for a quick run, but must not be too narrow.
When setting up the enclosure, it must be checked whether possible sources of noise (e.g. road, cycle path, business) are adjacent. In this case, the enclosure should be laid out so that the longer side of the enclosure leads away from the source of noise. To make it easier to get used to the noise source, it should be visible.
The corner angles of the enclosure must not be less than 90 °. All corners in the enclosure must be beveled. Keeping several sexually mature cocks in one enclosure is to be avoided and only permitted if
- the shelter has at least 2 exits, the width of which allows at least 2 animals to pass through at the same time,
- the enclosure corresponds to the areas specified under 1.2.1,
- in the event of intolerance that requires separation, a free enclosure is available,
- the group of animals is checked several times a day.
I.1.2.1 Space requirement, group size, group composition
An enclosure area of at least 2,500 m is required for keeping adult ostriches2 required, provided that the nature of the soil and the willow vegetation allow year-round keeping on the pasture. If this is not the case, the enclosure must have an area of at least 3,000 m2 exhibit. Since adult ostriches develop a very narrow territorial character, every activity causes considerable stress. Therefore, activities must be reduced to the absolutely unavoidable level.
The enclosure floor must be non-slip and sure-footed at all times so that the animals can move around sufficiently. The usability of the enclosure must not be restricted in the long term by mud, slippery snow or ice. It must be checked in each individual case whether the soil and weather conditions on site meet these requirements all year round. If necessary, external experts should be called in for this.
Full overgrazing is to be avoided. Damage to footsteps in enclosure areas that the birds frequently walk through, especially to adjacent enclosures or to streets and houses, cannot always be avoided. However, the affected area must be kept safe to walk on by means of suitable measures. In the case of overgrazing due to permanently unfavorable conditions, the stocking density may have to be reduced or the area increased.
Practical experience shows that areas where it is not possible to keep horses all year round due to heavy mud formation are also not suitable for keeping ostriches. Ostriches may not be kept where drainage and / or fortification measures cannot ensure the necessary soil conditions.
Specifically, enclosures must include at least the following areas freely available for ostriches:
|Age||Minimum enclosure area in m2||Minimum area per animal in m2||Remarks|
|Up to the 2nd week of life||20||2||Chicks at this age feel "lost" when they have a larger run. The group size may not exceed 40 animals during the day and 25 animals at night. In order to avoid stress in the animals by dividing the group, it is recommended to keep the animals in a group size of up to 25 animals during the day and night. It is recommended to protect the access area between the run-out area and the shelter with a canopy so that the entire entrance area remains dry when it rains.|
|2nd week to 2nd month of life|| age dependent|
|The group size must not exceed 40 animals. The shortest side should be at least 5 m long. One side should be at least 10 m long.|
|3rd to 6th month of life|| Age-dependent|
| age dependent|
|The group size must not exceed 40 animals (provided that there are no significant differences in size between the animals). The shortest side should be at least 15 m long. One side should be at least 30 m long.|
|7th to 11th month of life|| Age-dependent|
|The group size must not exceed 40 animals (provided that there are no significant differences in size between the animals). The shortest side should be at least 20 m long. One side should be at least 50 m long.|
|From 12 months of age||2.500||300||The group size must not exceed 40 animals (provided that there are no significant differences in size between the animals). The shortest side should be at least 25 m long. One side should be at least 50 m long.|
|Enclosures for groups with one or more adult male ostriches and breeding animals from 2 years of age||2.500||2,500 / trio||Each additional hen must 500 m2 and every further cock 1,000 m2 more are available. The shortest side should be at least 25 m long. One side should be at least 70 m long.|
If grazing on non-drained natural soil is not possible due to limited spatial conditions in zoos and game enclosures, the ostriches must be kept in an enclosure on drained soil, giving the opportunity to live out their species-specific behavior as well as adequate feeding, care and hygiene (among others Collection of feces) are ensured. The area of such an enclosure should be based on the specified minimum area, but can be undercut in coordination with the responsible authority if an expert opinion has shown that reasons of animal welfare do not conflict in this case.
I.1.2.2 Enclosures for ostriches kept in common with animals of other species
Ostriches are easy to socialize with various species of mammals and birds in sufficiently large areas. If ostriches are kept together with animals of other species, retreats with everything necessary to meet the needs and, if necessary, opportunities for laying and rearing must be provided. The posture must be closely monitored during the acclimatization phase. Keeping ostriches with animals of other species must be checked at least three times a day after the acclimatization phase.
Ostriches must not be kept with possible predators or animal species with different activity rhythms.
If ostriches are kept in an enclosure with other species that use the enclosure in the same way, the calculation of the area must be based on the species with the highest requirements for the minimum enclosure area. The areas and dimensions for the other animals of this species and for the animals of the other species are to be added according to the requirements "for each additional animal" of the respective species (see information in the report on minimum requirements for the keeping of mammals). If ostriches are kept with species with higher requirements, this area must be increased by an additional 800 m for each ostrich rooster2 and for each ostrich hen an additional 200 m2 be expanded. The available space must also be able to be used by the species kept at the same time.
If ostriches are kept in an enclosure with other species that use the space in different ways, they may be kept in the minimum enclosure area provided for the species with the highest demands on the area, without the enclosure having to be enlarged, provided that this does not restrict it takes place in the exercise of the typical behavior of all animals in the relevant enclosure.
Temporary and sometimes very suddenly, incompatibilities between species or individuals can occur in communal housing (e.g. during the breeding or reproductive season). Enclosures or provisions for the separation of animal species or individual animals in the event of intolerance must therefore be available in the appropriate number and size.
The requirements of the individual animal species in terms of soil quality and enclosure design must be met.
Ostriches can overcome high fences due to their size, body weight and high speed. You can sometimes run unrestrained into the fence while running fast. The fencing must therefore be clearly visible, sufficiently stable and designed in such a way that break-in or break-out and injuries are excluded according to the state of the art. Reference is made to country-specific regulations for "dangerous animals", but these are not the subject of this report.
As a rule, these requirements can only be met by double fencing of the enclosure (if only one is available) or the entire enclosure. Due to the strong territorial ties, ostriches return to their territory after having overcome the enclosure. A double fence with a 3 m wide corridor in between therefore reliably prevents an escape. In addition, a double fence ensures that unauthorized persons have no direct contact with the animals. In zoo keeping, double fences are not necessary if the enclosure is sufficiently stable (e.g. fences, walls, drying trenches, etc.). The security fence around the entire site takes on the role of the second fence.
When running in the opposite direction, spring-loaded knot grids or wire mesh as well as opaque fences are suitable. Ostriches react in a startled and impulsive manner to unforeseeable or unknown environmental changes and disturbances. Serious start-up injuries can occur on massive, non-resilient fences through which the animals can look. In practice, large-meshed fences (mesh size significantly larger than the ostrich's head) have proven to be effective, through which ostriches can put their heads through and retract without injury. Fence meshes that are not significantly larger than the head of an ostrich mean a high risk of injury.
Therefore, fence material with small meshes may not be used for reasons of animal welfare.
Since ostriches appreciate a water bath even at temperatures around freezing point and can sometimes swim very well and persistently, pure water ditches are only suitable as fencing if they cannot be overcome, for example by a steep wall on the outside. This also applies to electric fences, which, because of the insulating fletching above leg height, have an insufficient effect as the sole enclosure. Electric fences can only be used in conjunction with clearly visible barriers. Barbed wire can cause serious injury and must therefore not be used. Ostriches, especially young birds, must be protected against access by predators within their housing system.
The fencing (either inside or outside fence) should not be less than 1.60 m for young ostriches and 2.00 m for adult ostriches. The inner fence should be at least 1.50 m high and the distance between the posts (if there are posts) should not exceed 5 m. If support posts are required, they must be attached to the outside of the fencing.
Adjacent enclosures of breeding groups can be separated from each other by a sufficiently high level of privacy protection - for example by opaque plants or an opaque fence. Completely securely fenced enclosures are not, however, suitable for animals. As inhabitants of open landscapes such as steppes and savannahs, ostriches are strongly visually oriented animals. In order to avoid stress, it is therefore important that the animals have a wide view of their surroundings.
I.1.2.4 Soil quality and other enclosure facilities
The keeping of ostriches is only possible on areas where there is no accumulating moisture even with frequent precipitation. The floor must be made in such a way that it remains non-slip and sure-footed all year round and does not become muddy over an area of more than 10%. Otherwise it must be ensured by draining the areas that the animals are not kept on muddy ground. Frequently used areas (especially in front of the shelter, along the fence, at feeding places, etc.) should be filled with gravel or sand, for example. Activities of the animals must be reduced to the absolutely unavoidable level due to the territorial character. Overall, care must be taken to ensure that the sward is preserved all year round if possible (e.g. through pasture management, adjusted occupancy density, seasonally adjusted additional feeding). A closed snow cover over a longer period of time should be an exception, and the area should rarely be iced up. The area of the enclosure must not be steep (max. 30% of the area with a max. Slope of 30%) and must ensure sufficient abrasion of the toenails through the design of the floor. The terrain has to dry out quickly due to the slope and the quality of the soil.
The topography of the enclosure should ensure that it receives several hours of sunshine a day in sunny weather all year round. All animals must always have a dry nesting and dust-bathing area as well as adequate protection from the sun. Sexually mature animals must have at least one dust bath (including a shelter) that can be used at any time, so that the animals have a dust bath at all times for their comfort behavior. Breeding animals also need a dry nesting place. The size of the dust bath for plumage care should be adjusted according to age, but at least 6.25 m for breeding animals2 (Side length at least 2.50 m each or radius at least 1.40 m) so that at least three animals can use the dust bath at the same time. It must be usable for the animals at all times and must be kept dry and hygienically perfect; this can be ensured by a roof, a well-functioning drainage system and daily cleaning. The substrate of the dust bath must be piled up at least 20 cm.
The area of the sun protection must be dimensioned so that all animals can visit the shaded area at the same time. It can consist of a canopy, trees or tall bushes. A minimum area of 1 m2 / animal - 1.5 m2 / animal is recommended.
Sufficient feeding places and watering places must be available, which are dimensioned in such a way that all animals can eat at the same time and that rivalries are avoided. The area around the feeding area and drinking trough must be kept in a hygienically perfect condition.
A shelter in the sense of this report is a roofed weather protection, which can generally be visited and left freely by the animals, but which can be locked if necessary. A stable is closed on four sides and can be used for rearing chicks and young animals or for the nightly stabling of the animals. Furthermore, instead of a shelter, adequate weather protection can also be guaranteed by an open stable.
Keeping ostriches is generally to be done year-round as a pasture or open stable, as ostriches, especially young animals, need natural sunlight for vitamin D synthesis. Permanent keeping of ostriches under a roof or as a pure stable is not compatible with Section 2 of the Animal Welfare Act. Rather, they need a constantly accessible, sufficiently large run-out area on which they can take their food during the light of day. Ostriches may only be stabled in exceptional cases in the context of animal epidemics by order of the competent authority, in individual cases on the basis of veterinary indications or in exceptional weather conditions (e.g. black ice). Due to exceptional weather conditions, they may be kept for a maximum of 3 days in a row and a maximum of 10 days within a month in the shelter or in a stable building with no access to an enclosure according to 1.2.
A shelter must be available for each group of animals in which all ostriches can be housed at the same time. The shelter must be light, well ventilated and free from drafts, otherwise the animals will not accept it. The shelter must be lockable so that ostriches can be locked up in extreme weather conditions or during urgent work in the enclosure.
Precautions must be taken so that incompatible or sick ostriches as well as strange ostriches can be kept individually if necessary to acclimatize. The shelter compartments must have the minimum area allocated to the individual age groups.
The shelter must do justice to its protective character. Large stable or shelter areas, which could serve as a "walking area" during a short-term confinement, do not meet the comfort behavior of ostriches, but harbor considerable dangers for the animals. In older animals (from around the 9th month, but sometimes even earlier), large areas often provoke rivalries and fights for rank. If the losing animal is pushed into a corner, it has no chance of escaping. Serious injuries cannot be ruled out. The practical experience of the past 25 years has shown that for the keeping of ostriches from the 3rd month onwards, uniform shelters or shelter compartments with a net area of 25 m2 with different stocking densities, the needs and characteristics of ostriches are particularly well suited.
Although all animals are in the shelter when feeding, they can move freely and also settle down. Old animals use the shelter z. Sometimes also for laying eggs and as a nesting place.
Based on many years of practical experience, a net area of 25 m is recommended2 for the following animal stocks:
- up to 5 adult or breeding animals,
- up to 10 young animals from the 5th / 6th Month or yearlings,
- up to 15 young animals up to 4th / 5th Month.
In the case of other group sizes, the total area of the shelter must be adapted to the number of animals (without separations).
If a permit is granted in accordance with Section 11 of the Animal Welfare Act, a tested concept for housing ostriches in accordance with animal welfare in the event of an animal disease should be included (e.g. premature slaughter, alternative roosts). This emergency concept must be realistically implementable (see notes on transport) and it must be possible for the authorities to monitor it at short notice.
For the maximum group size, please refer to the information in Chapter I.1.2.1.
It should be noted that the shelter areas for chicks and young animals that are too large until the end of the 4thCan be kept in a locked shelter at night to protect them from predators during the month of life. Little things (like a mouse) can panic the animals so much that the whole group runs repeatedly from side to side like a wave. This can continue until only a few animals are on their feet. Low intensity night lighting (3-5 lux) is recommended.
In the case of ostrich chicks, which always sleep in more or less dense groups, the area must not exceed three times the area of the entire sitting / sleeping group because of the risk of panic at night. The group size should not be larger than 25 chicks due to stress for the animals inside. Larger groups should be divided at night.
The boundaries must be 1.80 m high for ostriches from the 9th month of life and clearly visible for the ostriches. The minimum height of the shelter is 30 cm headroom for the upright animal in a normal posture.
The opening to the shelter should be wide enough for at least two birds to come in and out at the same time. The opening must be at least 2 m wide. The shelter should always be closed on 3 sides and, if necessary, have a separating device on the fourth side so that an animal can be cordoned off or ostriches can be temporarily detained in extreme weather conditions.
In addition to providing protection against the effects of the weather, shelters can also serve as retreats within the framework of social interactions. In adolescent and adult animals from around 9 months of age, large areas provoke rivalries and fights for rank. In unfavorably constructed enclosures it happens that the inferior animal is pushed into a corner by the dominant one and there z. T. is seriously injured. On the other hand, shelters are perceived by the animals as a safe place. In arguments between rooster and hen it can often be observed that the hen flees into the shelter, while the aggressive rooster does not follow her or does not attack her further in the shelter.
All shelter compartments are to be equipped with feeding places and drinking facilities. The feeding troughs should be designed so that all animals can eat at the same time.
The floor must be dry, non-slip and sure-footed.
For the long-term health of the ostrich, dry plumage in the shelter is essential. The humidity in the closed shelter should not exceed 60%.
Heating often proves to be disadvantageous for ostriches from the 6th month of life, as it promotes respiratory diseases due to the temperature gradient. Barn heating may only be required during rearing. Gas radiant heaters, which produce a hissing burning noise, are unsuitable as this noise can cause the animals to panic. A habituation effect is possible, however. With chicks, the use of radiant heaters or underfloor heating in the sleeping area has proven its worth.
The shelter must be placed in such a way that the permanently open access, which must point directly to the pasture, is mainly on the leeward side, as strong, cold wind is detrimental to well-being. In regions with constant wind loads, natural wind protection can also be created by planting dense hedges or creating undulations.
If it is necessary to fix it temporarily in the shelter or in the stable, sufficient daylight and, if necessary, additional use of artificial light corresponding to the daylight must be ensured. A daylight spectrum with UV-A and UV-B as well as flicker-free (fluorescent tubes w 200 Hz, LED corresponding parameters) must be used. The daily lighting should be seasonally adapted to the natural daylight. The day-night rhythm must be adhered to. Windowless stables are to be rejected.
A classic quarantine period of around 30 days in the stable is a high burden for ostriches. Therefore, ostriches of any age from countries for which quarantine is mandatory should not be imported. This does not apply to zoos that are approved in accordance with 92/65 / EEC if the intended purpose cannot be achieved with other animals. The import of hatching eggs and the subsequent rearing of the young birds under quarantine conditions are possible with the appropriate expertise.
Holdings that buy ostriches from countries that are not subject to quarantine, the European Union or Germany must have an enclosure of the same size that is separate from the rest of the stock and that meets the aforementioned requirements for the initial separation. Before taking over the animals, the ostrich owner should be able to prove to the competent authority that the animals can be accommodated according to the requirements of this report during the initial separation.
I.2. Measures in cold and wet conditions
Ostriches are adapted to temperature fluctuations in large areas. Even wet and cold weather, snow, ice and extremely low temperatures do not pose a threat to the health of ostriches. Only cold strong winds and strong sunlight in connection with summer heat permanently above 30 ° C can endanger well-being and health. In such extreme weather conditions, temporary housing (e.g. overnight) in a shelter or a stable building may be necessary.
I.3 Feeding and water supply
Ostriches are to be fed according to their needs and with clean and unspoiled feed. The predominant part of the daily feed requirement (approx. 80%) should basically consist of pasture growth or take place in zoos and game enclosures through animal-friendly feeding. Adult animals should be able to cover their raw fiber requirements during the vegetation period through daily grazing. If there is insufficient vegetation, this must be compensated for by adding green and roughage. If the floor in the enclosure remains clean and dry, the roughage can be scattered. In addition, they should receive a feed supplement rich in crude fiber, which covers the additional need for minerals and vitamins. In some cases, the birds only take up from troughs and troughs to a limited extent.
Since the previously known requirement values are based on information from other husbandry regions or on estimates and own experience of German farms, the actual requirement values under Central European husbandry conditions are to be scientifically researched.
Ostrich chicks and young ostriches are to be fed in such a way that a weight development adapted to skeletal growth is ensured. A particularly high mineral requirement must be taken into account in laying hens.
If possible, young animals should be offered green fodder from the third week of life or be available through grazing. In addition, it is important to ensure a balanced supply of minerals, which contains sufficient calcium, phosphorus compounds and raw fiber content, as well as a supply of vitamins and trace elements. Appropriate materials must be available to ensure an adequate supply of calcium. In order to shred the food in the gizzard, the animals must be able to take up stones from the beginning, depending on their size. The supply of stones, especially the young animals, must be carried out with great care in order to prevent an intestinal obstruction. The size of the stones should be carefully checked and, depending on the age of the animals, be about half the size of the claws.
It is recommended to feed only food specially prepared for the different age groups or for the breeding use of the ostriches. Pelleted additional or complete feed are often just as unsuitable as compound feed for poultry, which is too high in energy and possibly contain additives unsuitable for ostriches, due to insufficient consideration of the actual requirements of ostriches for their needs-based feeding.
Too intensive rearing feeding or an unsuitable ratio of minerals, vitamins and trace elements can lead to irreversible leg damage and other diseases. The energy and protein content of the rearing feed must be relatively low and the crude fiber content must be high. Ostrich chicks must be able to feed constantly.
Ostriches must have fresh, clear water at their disposal at all times. For an adult ostrich a water requirement of approx. 5-10 l / day can be assumed, on extremely hot days up to 20 l / day. The water must be offered in open containers that should be cleaned regularly, usually daily. Float drinkers have proven their worth, nipple, ball or beef drinkers with a pressure tongue are not suitable.
I.4. Health care
The health of the ostrich and the condition of the housing facilities must be checked at least once a day by direct visual inspection.
If there are signs of illness or injuries, further measures must be taken if necessary. If necessary, a qualified veterinarian is to be called in. For example, an ostrich must be able to be immobilized for an examination. This can be done through professional forced conditions.
An inventory book is to be kept in which the origin and whereabouts of the ostriches, causes of departure, data on breeding and rearing success, vaccinations, examinations and treatments as well as abnormal findings during the daily inspection are recorded. These records must be kept for at least 3 years. Legally stipulated retention periods must also be observed.
The care of the animals should be based on a written program for veterinary prevention, treatment and nutrition in accordance with good veterinary practice. This must be drawn up annually and contains the name of the responsible veterinarian as well as the measures to be carried out with an appointment.
In zoos and animal enclosures according to Section 42 and Section 43 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act, animals are cared for on the basis of a written program for veterinary prevention and treatment as well as for nutrition that is in line with good veterinary practice. This corresponds to the requirements that Section 42 (3) number 2 and Section 43 (2) number 1 of the Federal Nature Conservation Act place on the operation of zoos and animal enclosures.
Sexually mature ostriches kept individually because of illness can be kept with or without visual contact with other ostriches, depending on the individual case.
Sick chicks and young animals that do not need to be kept in isolation to recover and that do not pose an immediate danger to other healthy animals may not be kept individually. If a chick / young animal has to be isolated because of an illness, it must always be kept in the company of at least one, better two animals of the same age. If sexually mature ostriches have to be kept individually due to illness, they should not have visual contact with their usual enclosure and the members of their group, as otherwise they are exposed to great stress and constantly try to get back there. In the case of an infectious disease with an acute risk of infection for other animals, direct socialization should be avoided; this will be decided by the treating veterinarian.
Regular parasitological checks should be part of preventive health care.
In order to avoid frequently described damage, particular attention should be paid to the following:
- Ostriches ingest whatever objects they can swallow. Chicks and young birds in particular become constipated due to excessive intake of sand or stones in stressful situations. But adult ostriches also often ingest foreign bodies, which can lead to serious illnesses and even deaths. Enclosures and stables / shelters must therefore be checked thoroughly for foreign objects before occupancy. When working in the enclosure, special attention must be paid to ensuring that tools and foreign objects such as pieces of wire, nails etc. are not accessible to the birds. Visitors should be made aware of the dangers posed by foreign bodies to ostriches.
- Inadequate feeding or lack of exercise can cause leg damage in chicks in particular, which leads to pain and restricted mobility. As a preventive measure, it is therefore important to ensure adequate exercise and balanced, needs-based feeding of the ostriches.
- In the area where the birds are staying, care must be taken to ensure that the floor conditions are perfectly hygienic. Feces and leftover feed are to be removed daily from chicks, and from young animals at least in the vicinity of the shelter.
Both natural and artificial breeding / rearing are possible under the climatic conditions of Central Europe. However, both hatching / rearing methods require a high level of expertise and care. Otherwise high losses are to be feared. In the absence of practical experience, ostrich owners who want to breed and rear should complete an internship before they start breeding ostriches. Basically, ostrich chicks are to be kept in groups, the size of which depends on the age of the chicks.
Ostrich chicks may be kept in the barn for the first 3 days after hatching. After that, they must be given free access to a paved, non-slip, but easy-to-clean open space during the day, as well as increasing access to the chick pasture every day. Access to the barn must not be blocked so that the chicks can return at any time when it starts to rain.
Breeding and rearing of chicks should be avoided in times of the year when the weather conditions only allow limited outdoor exercise. Depending on the subspecies, laying periods can occur in the winter months, so that protected alternatives must be offered for these chicks. An exercise in buildings (e.g. under quarantine conditions) can only partially replace an exercise in the open air. If necessary, the lack of sunlight must be compensated for by using UV lamps and daylight emitters.
The following house temperatures are recommended for chicks:
- Up to 5th day of life: 28 ° C in the area of a heat source, in which all chicks must have space at the same time.
- Up to 14th day of life: 28 ° C in the area of a heat source in the sleeping area, ambient temperature falling to the outside.
- 15th to 30th day of life: approx. 25 ° C in the area of a heat source in the sleeping area, the environment sloping outwards to the building temperature. If the outside temperature is high, heating must not be used; the chick house must be well ventilated without creating a draft.
- In the 2nd and 3rd month of life, the temperature in the area of the heat source can be gradually reduced to up to 10 ° C, depending on age. It is advisable to lower the temperature to 22 ° C by the 9th week of life, and down to 10 ° C by the 12th week, depending on the weather.
Documents and floors must be non-slip. Unsuitable smooth concrete floors or wire mesh floors can cause posture or leg damage and are therefore not animal welfare. Chicks can be kept on litter if the litter is kept clean on a regular basis to prevent constipation. Otherwise, ostrich chicks should be kept on artificial or natural solid floors that are non-slip, dry and hygienically safe for the chicks. Up to the 6th week of life, especially when rearing without parent animals, no sand or long-straw hay should be used as bedding, as excessive intake can lead to stomach overload and constipation. After the first week of life at the latest, chicks should be kept on litter in the barn. The litter must be renewed or sprinkled over daily to avoid straw wrapping or clogging. Ostrich chicks must be offered food and water at all times. The feed intake must be checked regularly.
On the one hand, since the breeding season varies somewhat and, on the other hand, additional eggs can be laid in the nest of an already breeding bird, not all chicks hatch at the same time. Therefore, before eggs are disposed of, it must be checked that they do not contain any living embryos.
I.6. Dealing with ostriches
Close, trusting interaction between the carer and the animals has a positive effect on the keeping conditions. It is advisable to get the animals used to coming to a call or whistle and, for example, to go to the shelter. This conditioning is strengthened by giving food and is best done when the chicks are still young.
Adult ostriches are counted among the animal species that are dangerous to humans. They can also become dangerous if they were accustomed to humans as chicks. For example, during courtship, but also during egg-laying and breeding, the territory can be vigorously defended.
Ostriches must be handled in such a way that they do not cause pain, suffering or damage. In addition, appropriate precautions must be taken to ensure that people are not endangered by adult ostriches. For example, full-grown ostriches should be cordoned off when working in the enclosure or in the shelter.
Manual restraint can be dangerous for both the carer and the birds, as the ostriches react very quickly when they panic, jumping up and down and kicking with their strong legs. The claws in particular can cause considerable injuries to the carer or the animal itself. Capturing, handling and releasing ostriches requires specialized skills as the stress caused by improper trapping and restraint is a common cause of death. The animals should be treated with care and never driven. Ostriches react more calmly in a group and in subdued lighting. If it is necessary to catch the animals, they must first be secured in a small area (e.g. in a shelter). Beating and pushing animals as well as the use of electric driving devices as well as catching and shepherd hooks are contrary to animal welfare.
It should be noted that once animals have been released, they can become victims of aggressive behavior from the rest of the herd. It is therefore important to ensure that they are protected from aggressive behavior and injuries by conspecifics.
I.7. Transportation of ostriches
The provisions of the current version of the Animal Welfare Transport Ordinance apply to the transport of ostriches, rheas, emus and cassowaries. Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005 also applies to transports that are carried out in connection with an economic activity.
The transport means a high level of stress for ostriches of all ages and may only be carried out if it is essential. When building and expanding ostrich holdings, it should therefore be checked whether on-site slaughter is possible by providing slaughter rooms or by using mobile slaughter vehicles. In addition, when it comes to new constructions and extensions, it is important to ensure that these efforts are not based on concepts that require the transport of ostriches. It must always be ensured that the animals are transported as briefly and as gently as possible. The floor of the transporter or the transport box must be non-slip.
Ostriches have a very strong herd or group bond. In practice, therefore, the joint transport of several animals has proven itself: Here, four animals are transported as a group, e.g. in a double horse trailer; existing partitions are removed so that the animals can turn around and sit down. For longer transports or restless animals, it is advisable to divide the transporter sideways for two animals that can turn and sit down, but are not exposed to braking and acceleration forces without protection. The recommended space and group sizes are shown in the following table:
Age of the animals
Group transport Maximum number of animals / box
Space requirement per animal in m2 / animal
up to 20
0.04 (20 x 20 cm)
Chicks up to 12 weeks of age
4 to 20
0.06 to 0.25
Young animals up to 12 months of age
4 to 8
from 13 months of age
up to 4
1.0 to 1.5
The transport box or the compartment of the transporter must be high enough that ostriches can stand upright in a natural posture and a headroom of 0.30 m is guaranteed. Sexually mature male and female animals must be transported separately or in the usual association. Partitions must be closed and reach at least the height of the base of the neck of the animal.
The temperature requirements of the ostrich must be observed; Chick transporters must be heatable. Adequate ventilation must be provided to avoid overheating. When exposed to excessive heat or when the ambient temperature is very high, ostriches pant through their open beak for ventilation. In addition, the animals, which are all standing, set up wings, tail and body feathers so that air movements can dissipate the heat through the skin. Boxes must have enough openings through which the ostriches cannot stick their heads. Even when transporting in closed vans with ventilation devices, it must be checked whether a sufficient air supply is guaranteed.
Interventions on ostriches within the meaning of Section 6 of the Animal Welfare Act (amputations) are prohibited unless the intervention is required in individual cases according to veterinary indications.
It is also fundamentally forbidden to remove feathers from living animals. The removal of individual feathers for DNA or gender determination is permitted if no more gentle method is possible. An impairment of the species-appropriate behavior must not occur through the removal.
I.9. Killing ostriches
Ostriches are prohibited from killing them without good reason. Only those who have the necessary knowledge and skills are allowed to kill the birds. The killing may only take place after prior anesthesia while avoiding pain and suffering.
An animal welfare killing can be done with medication. The assessment of possible slaughter methods for ostriches is not part of these minimum requirements.
II. Rheas and emus
Rheas can reach a size of 1.25 to 1.50 m and weigh 20 to 40 kg, while emus can reach 1.50 to 1.90 m in size and weigh 30 to 55 kg. Rheas and emus can run fast like ostriches and reach an escape speed of up to 60 km / h. Nandus can turn 90 ° while running in order to suddenly change direction.
Nandus and emus often have the same demands on keeping as African ostriches. Unless otherwise stated, the requirements under Chapter I. must be complied with.
II.1 Housing the rheas and emus
Rheas can naturally gather in mixed herds that dissolve during the breeding season, when the males tend to become solitary animals. The female birds form small closed groups and the annuals remain as a herd. Wild emus can be found singly, in pairs, or in groups of varying sizes. In the case of emus and rheas, the male breeds alone and raises the chicks.
Adult rheas and emus should preferably be kept in pairs or in groups of pairs or small groups (1 rooster with 2 hens) in enclosures. Long-term stable keeping is not permitted, only in very unusual weather conditions (rheas are more sensitive to heat, emus are sensitive to snow), in the context of animal diseases by order of the competent authority or in individual cases with veterinary indication, short-term accommodation in a closed shelter or stable respectively. Aggressive animals must be accommodated in individual compartments. If more than one breeding group is kept in one area, additional areas and shelters are particularly important. The owner must be able to separate animals, e.g. in the event of sudden intolerance. Appropriate enclosures or separation options must be available. The same minimum requirements apply for these as for other enclosures.
Nandus and emus may only be kept in groups of up to 40 animals up to the age of 6 months. Between 3 weeks and 6 months of age, the maximum group size assumes that there are no significant differences in size between the animals.
II.1.2.1 Space requirement, group size, group composition
Enclosures must have the following space:
Minimum enclosure area in m2
Minimum area per animal in m2
Up to the 3rd week of life
3rd week to 6th month of life
The shortest side should be at least 5 m, one side should be at least 20 m long.
7th to 12th month of life
The shortest side should be at least 10 m, one side should be at least 50 m long.
1st year of life until breeding maturity
The shortest side should be at least 10 m, one side should be at least 50 m long.
The shortest side should be at least 10 m, one side should be at least 50 m long. For this purpose, their young animals may be kept in the same enclosure. As a rule, animals count as young animals that are not yet sexually mature, or as long as they would be led by an old animal (usually the rooster) or remain in the group under natural conditions.
In zoos and game enclosures, the minimum length of 50 m for a long side can be fallen short of if the animals are given the opportunity to move around according to their species, for example through a circular run. In these cases, however, one side of the enclosure must be at least 30 m for birds from the 3rd week of life to the 12th month of life, and at least 50 m for birds from the first year of life and adult animals.
II.1.2.2 Enclosures for rheas and emus kept in common with animals of other species
The requirements for keeping them together with other animals do not differ from those for ostriches (see I.1.2.2).
The height of the enclosure should not be less than 1.80 m (young animals 1.60 m) for emus and 1.70 m (young animals 1.50 m) for rheas. A final cross bar at the top of the fence is recommended.
II.1.2.4 Soil quality and other enclosure facilities
For emus, when the weather is frost-free, a bathing pool of at least 2.5 m should be in the enclosure no later than the 9th week of life2 Size and 30 cm deep, which you can always look for. Chicks should be kept away from the water because of the risk of drowning. Rhea must have the opportunity to wash off with water in the summer heat.
to cool. Sprinkler systems, for example, are suitable for this. All animals must always have a dry, sandy bathing area and adequate protection from the sun. If possible, the sand bathing area should be placed outside the shelter, for example under the canopy or under trees.
For rheas and emus, under the conditions normally prevailing in Central Europe, a windproof, frost-proof, dry shelter is sufficient; in winter, a straw store is to be set up. The main wind direction must be taken into account when building the shelter. Natural conditions such as the edges of forest or wood, dense vegetation, building walls or undulations can also be sufficient as weather protection.
In the event of exceptional weather conditions, rheas and emus may be kept for a maximum of 3 days in a row and a maximum of 10 days within a month in the shelter or in a stable building with no access to an enclosure according to Chapter II.1.2 They can be stabled at night.
Shelters that can also be used for short-term stables under special conditions must have the following areas:
|Age of the animals||Minimum area in m2/Animal||Minimum floor space in m2|
|Up to the 4th day of life||0,25||1|
|4th day of life to 3rd week of life||0,25-0,5||5|
|4th week to 6th month of life||0,5-1||Depending on the number of animals, 10 are recommended|
|7th to 12th month of life||1||Depending on the number of animals, 20 are recommended|
|1st year of life until breeding maturity||2||Depending on the number of animals, 25 are recommended|
|Adult birds||3||Depending on the number of animals, 30 is recommended|
The height of the boundaries within the shelter must be at least 1.40 m, the clear height of the shelter ceiling at least 2.20 m.
II.2 Measures in cold and wet conditions
Rheas and emus are not very sensitive to cold. To protect against adverse weather conditions, however, a shelter that is accessible at all times must be available.
Emus and rheas are to be fed as required and with clean and unspoiled feed. Stones should be available for emus and rheas older than 5 days. The supply of stones, especially for young animals, should be done with great care in order to prevent an intestinal obstruction. The gravel size should be carefully checked and, as a rule of thumb, should be half the size of the animal's foot claw.
II.4 Transport of rheas and emus
Rheas and emus can be transported in groups or in pairs if they are tolerated. Individual transport is advisable for adult animals. Transport boxes and / or horse transporters are suitable as transport containers. Animals of different ages must be transported in separate compartments.
Cassowaries come from the tropical regions of Australia and New Guinea. Outside of the breeding season they are solitary, during the breeding season a male defends a territory and usually reproduces there with only one female. As with emus and rheas, the male breeds alone and raises the chicks.
Cassowaries can reach a size of 1.00 to 1.70 m; males can weigh 18 to 34 kg, females up to 58 kg. They reach a speed of up to 50 km / h. The animals have a dagger-like claw up to 10 cm long on the inner toe of their feet, which can be used as a dangerous weapon.
Cassowaries often have the same demands on keeping as African ostriches. Unless otherwise noted, the requirements under Chapter I must be complied with. The following deviations must be observed for the keeping of cassowaries:
III.1 Accommodation of the cassowaries
Cassowaries are solitary animals outside of the breeding season. They are then to be kept individually in enclosures. They can be very aggressive towards conspecifics as well as other animals and people. Cassowaries are sensitive to low temperatures.
III.1.2.1 Space requirement, group size, group composition
The enclosures must have the following areas: 300 m2 per animal in individual housing. A connection or separation of two enclosures must be provided for a breeding.
An enclosure for cassowaries should be structured with a large number of structures providing cover (e.g. hedges, bushes or artificial visible barriers) (forest dwellers).
III.1.2.2 Enclosures for cassowaries kept in common with animals of other species
A socialization with animals of other species is usually not possible.
Cassowaries have an extraordinary bounce. The height of the enclosure should be at least 1.80 m. The enclosure fencing can also be chosen lower in combination with other fencing elements (e.g. water ditches), provided that there is no risk of accidents for cassowaries and people.
III.1.2.4 Soil quality and other enclosure facilities
Cassowary enclosures should have a water basin (the same size as with rheas and emus) with a shallow entrance. Hiding places and shady places must be available.
In contrast to ostriches, emus and rheas, cassowaries require a permanent, heated stable. The stable area should be at least 10 m per animal2 be. The living area of the animals should be structured accordingly to enrich the habitat. The boundaries within the barn must be at least 1.80 m high, the clear height of the barn must be at least 2.20 m. The stable temperature must not fall below 15 ° C, the humidity should be at least 60%.
III.2 Measures in cold and wet conditions
Cassowaries are to be kept indoors at night and during the day at temperatures below 0 ° C. An hourly run outdoors is also possible and useful at temperatures below 0 ° C.
The feed ration must contain fruit, vegetables and animal protein and be fresh, clean and unspoiled.
III.4 Dealing with cassowaries
Cassowaries can be very aggressive. Attacking animals use their weight and strong legs. Stepping with a suitably extended claw can cause life-threatening injuries. They are therefore only to be caught if absolutely necessary and only in an appropriately equipped compartment in the stable. Cassowaries must be cordoned off beforehand when cleaning the enclosure.
III.5 Transport of cassowaries
Cassowaries are to be transported individually. It must be ensured that the transport box is sufficiently stable.
IV. Final remarks
The minimum requirements for keeping ostriches are updated immediately when new scientifically based findings are available.
Representatives of the veterinary associations
Dr. Uwe Tiedemann, President of the Federal Veterinary Association V.
Prof. Dr. Thomas Blaha, Chairman of the Veterinary Association for Animal Welfare e. V.
Representatives of the animal welfare associations
James Brückner, Head of the Department of Species and Nature Conservation, Deutscher Tierschutzbund e. V.
Torsten Schmidt, Research Associate at the Federation against Abuse of Animals V.
Representatives of the animal owners' associations
Christoph Kistner, President - species-appropriate e. V.- Professional Association of German Ostrich Breeding
Ralph Schumacher, President of the Federal Association of German Ostrich Breeders V.
Dr. Gisela von Hegel, President of the Federal Association for Professional Nature, Animal and Species Protection e. V.
Eckhard Wiesenthal, Chairman of the German Game Reserve Association e. V.
Difference protocol of the German Animal Welfare Association and the federal government against abuse of animals
The German Animal Welfare Association V. and the Federation against Abuse of Animals e. V. state the following differences for the record regardless of the other approval of the present report:
- The above Animal welfare associations are fundamentally against keeping ostriches in a livestock-like manner.
- With regard to the restriction of the keeping of stables without access to a maximum of 3 days in a row and a maximum of 10 days per month (see "I.1.3. Shelter"), it is required to prohibit the keeping of ostriches in regions where experience has shown that this cannot be complied with .
- Raising chicks without parents is to be avoided as a matter of principle and must be restricted to well-founded and narrowly defined individual cases.
- Extraction of feathers from living animals is rejected.
- The import of young ostriches as well as older ostriches from states for which quarantine is mandatory is rejected.
- The following exemptions for zoos and game enclosures in the report are rejected:
a. In principle, ostriches always have the same basic biological needs, regardless of their purpose of keeping. The exception for zoos and game enclosures made possible under sub-item "I.1.2.1 Area requirement, group size, group composition" of the report, which deviates from the minimum area required there, is therefore rejected. It should be expected from institutions that always refer to their role model function in animal husbandry that they do not remain below the area requirements applicable to agricultural ostrich husbandry. Under no circumstances should the competent licensing authority tolerate a long-term or even permanent fall below the specified minimum area dimensions of the Council of Europe recommendation for the keeping of ostriches in these facilities.
b. The regulation in Chapter "II.1.3 Shelter", according to which emus and rheas may be stabled in zoos at night, is rejected. Ultimately, this means that these animal species in the zoo have to spend most of their lives in the stable. This exception is therefore in clear contradiction to the basic rule of the expert opinion (cf. II.1.1), where inter alia. means that only "in individual cases with a veterinary indication (...) a short-term accommodation in a closed shelter or stable can take place". Rather, zoos should be obliged to use suitable management to significantly and sustainably reduce the times of nightly stabling, especially in the warmer seasons.
- The animal welfare associations also recommend "taking into account the possibilities for habitat enrichment (enrichment) in the design and operation of the enclosures. Habitat enrichment is an important instrument for expanding and expanding the range of natural behaviors that animals can or want to show in human care to improve the physical fitness and well-being of the animals. Habitat enrichment can be applied on different levels "(cf. report on minimum requirements for the keeping of mammals, p. 16, point 2.6) and can be applied to ostriches, emus, rheas and cassowaries in particular about the provision of different food accomplish in order to among other things promote foraging behavior.
Difference protocol of the Federal Association for Professional Nature, Animal and Species Protection and the German Game Reserve Association*
The Federal Association for Professional Nature, Animal and Species Protection e. V. and the German Game Reserve Association e. V. agree with the present report, but also state for the record:
- The report is based on many years of experience in ostrich farming, especially in farm animal husbandry. There is no scientifically meaningful evidence for the specified minimum requirements.
- Various statements are therefore made in the report (see p. 5, paragraph 3 ["Deviation in individual cases"]; p. 5, last paragraph ["Transitional periods"] and p. 6, paragraph 2 ["Existing rights"], as well as p. 14 last paragraph ["justified shortfall in individual cases"] and further on p. 10 paragraph 2 ["extraordinary adaptability"] and p. 12 paragraph 4 ["Damage to footsteps in enclosure areas frequently used by birds, especially in adjacent enclosures or also streets and houses "]) to contradictions, which can be justified with the individually very variable adaptability of the animals. Natural curiosity (and not necessarily agonistic territorial behavior) is the reason why the birds prefer to go to the edge of the enclosure. It is precisely these experiences from zoos and wildlife parks that demonstrate a high level of adaptability to structured enclosures, including the comparatively high number of visitors.
- Ostriches in large enclosures often show a much greater escape distance from humans than in small enclosures such as those found in zoos.
- In individual cases, the specified enclosure areas can therefore be undercut if the animal owner can prove this behavior from his / her husbandry (description of the enclosure, age of the facility, animal population information) and the expert opinion (p. 14, last paragraph) has shown that animal welfare does not conflict with this keeping .
- According to the previous statements, grandfathering is therefore given if the farm has not become conspicuous in terms of keeping ostriches relevant to animal welfare. This representation does not contradict the other statements of the expert opinion.
- On the basis of the statement on p. 7, paragraph 1 ("Housing requirements of all ostriches are often the same"), BNA e. V. and DWV e. V. items 1. to 5. also for rheas, emus and cassowaries.
*) The references used in this difference protocol refer to the page numbers in the print version of the report published by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture on its website (www.bmel.de).
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