We require that the animals that we slaughter and process be kept and raised in a reasonable manner. At Tönnies we support our producers in ensuring and further developing animal welfare and animal protection in husbandry.
Animal welfare in animal husbandry
At Tönnies we support our producers in ensuring and further developing animal welfare and animal protection in husbandry. We work in close collaboration with them so that they address the right issues and find common approaches to finding investments in husbandry that also benefit farmers.
1. Animal welfare improvements in collaborative production can only be guaranteed if a common approach is adopted by the persons involved. Tönnies thus also accepts responsibility in this regard.
2. Animal welfare improvements must draw on scientifically verified criteria – Tönnies Research is working intensively on this with an annual budget of approx. EUR 300,000.
3. Animal welfare improvements that exceed statutory standards cost money. The majority of this money should go to the producers – suitable incentives must be set for producers.
4. The data on the ante and post mortem checks recorded by veterinarians and inspectors can be used to draw comprehensive conclusions on the welfare of the animals. The Tönnies Agriculture department uses this information to develop criteria and improvements in husbandry and searches for solutions with producers.
Official slaughtering inspection for complete diagnostic data on animal welfare
Official veterinarians and meat inspectors within the region examine every animal slaughtered by Tönnies. The goal is to establish the health condition and well-being of the animals when they arrive at the site and the condition of the animals on the slaughter line.
The slaughter line is used to examine the carcases and internal organs. All diagnostic data is collected, analysed and archived in the Agriculture Department at Tönnies. The recorded diagnostic data enables detailed conclusions to be drawn on the well-being of the animals during the holding period.
A veterinarian will examine the health of the pigs on arrival
This data is a good indicator of the animal’s welfare
Healthy joints are an indication that a pig is being kept appropriately. However, if there is joint inflammation, this can be a sign that the animals are moving too little and lying down too much or that injuries have been sustained and germs have penetrated the joints. The data documents any injuries.
If the animals bite each other’s tails, this is a sign of stress. This can be caused, for example, by food jealousy, a lack of hygiene or being held in cramped conditions. Optimal husbandry is no guarantee that this behaviour will not occur. However, good hygiene and grain quality, sufficient space at the feeding stations, and activity options help to ensure the integrity of the tail.
Ear biting is also a reaction by the animal to stress. Similar factors to tail biting can contribute, such as food jealousy, a lack of hygiene, being held in cramped conditions and the like. The official inspections thus also check whether the ears of the animals show injuries. This is recorded in the data.
Like many of us, fattening pigs can also have respiratory infections. Often these can be recognised on the slaughter line even after the infection has healed. To reduce infections, careful control of the stall climate is particularly important. The key task is to ensure a comfortable temperature for the pigs in the stall. Ammonia residue from the animal manure can also affect the respiratory passages. For this reason, the respiratory organs are carefully observed during the meat inspection.
In pigs, a healthy intestine is essential for digestion, for the high efficiency of the animal, but also for the immune system. Approx. 70 per cent of the antibodies created by the body are released by the intestinal mucosa. If the intestine is not healthy, the risk of illness increases. It is thus the responsibility of farmers to ensure that the pigs maintain balanced intestinal flora.
The liver data often includes important information on any infestation of the liver with illnesses such as worms. Worms are not a health risk for the animals; however the efficiency of the animal is reduced and thus often its growth during fattening. Deworming at the start of fattening is thus a standard remedy during fattening. The liver data is documented in detail by Tönnies.
The parameters are analysed for every animal and systematically evaluated. The data is fed back to the agricultural companies, specifically in the case of noteworthy evaluations. These form the basis for advice to the companies on permanently improving animal welfare. The companies also receive the corresponding infrastructure from Tönnies with internet-based data response and reporting systems for the individual company.
Our next goals
The 100% subsidiary, Tönnies Livestock, focuses on the requirements for cross-chain systems to improve animal health, food safety and support for breeding work and the further development of animal-friendly husbandry systems. Tönnies Livestock and Tönnies will continue to work trustfully and unreservedly with marketers and livestock trading companies as partners. The aim is to work together to secure backing from retailers and acceptance by consumers. We work hand in hand with our suppliers and farmers as practically oriented as possible to optimize the tension between economic constraints and modern animal husbandry.
The further development of our current husbandry system towards alternative animal-friendly husbandry systems which meet the sensitivities of the animals is a significant task for the future. Tönnies already has a clear timetable for approaching this task. Even today, 30% of pigs are kept in non-legal standards. In addition, we are raising the animal welfare level for the entire range in German food retailing to level 2. We want to continuously expand this quota and the number of agricultural partners with animal welfare stalls. In addition, we create a sufficient supply from the higher husbandry levels
As a pioneer, we have been dealing with alternative forms of husbandry for years. We share our collection of knowledge on the construction of animal welfare stalls with interested farmers and partners. In cooperation with experts, we have developed concepts for new buildings in the area of open-front stalls as well as practicable conversion solutions for existing stables. In the near future we want to increase the number of pigs for keeping type 3 to 3000 pigs per week. At the same time, the construction of open-front stables is being promoted and promoted both organizationally and structurally.
Tönnies is working together with partners to further develop piglet production. A major project is currently underway with stalls that allow the sows to roam free with group suckling of the piglets.
Now it is a matter of keeping type 2 StallhaltungPlus as the basic range in all German retail stores. Nothing stands in the way of interlinking the criteria with the concepts currently being developed for the state animal welfare label. In 2021 we are planning the comprehensive conversion of our pork and selected sausage products for the food retail industry to type 2 farming.
Ultimately, the other marketing channels should also follow suit or there should be a legal obligation for comprehensive husbandry labeling. Tönnies also actively tries to motivate customers from the catering and food service to market meat from animals from higher husbandry levels.
Together with our partners in the chain, including food retailers, agriculture and other stakeholders from the dairy and meat industries, we are working in a project group for the expansion of the animal welfare initiative and husbandry form 2 for cattle. At the same time, we also want to promote housing type 3.
Together with partners in the food retail sector, we are actively working on expanding quality meat programs that sustainably promote animal welfare and climate protection measures in cattle farming. Since 2014, as part of the BEST Beef program, we have been continuously improving the housing conditions for dairy cows and are continuously developing it together with partners from agriculture and the industry. With Bestbeef we are successfully addressing the demands of society and politics for more animal welfare.
There is currently no corresponding animal welfare label for cattle. Here we want to actively promote the process of developing a corresponding label. We are sure that we will succeed together with all partners in the chain. Here we also count on the good cooperation with the competence network beef of the Borchert Commission.
Tönnies participates in the SAI / ERBS (Sustainable Agriculture Initiative Platform / European Round Table Sustainable Beef). Together with partners from the trade, the meat industry and other stakeholders at the German and European level, we develop strategies and concepts with which the animal welfare and the keeping conditions of cattle are to be sustainably improved. Current projects focus on reducing negative CO2 consumption in cattle farming, the use of antibiotics and tethering.
That’s what we’re dealing with
- Sustainable feeding strategies
- Antibiotic reduction
- Improvement of the manure management
- Climate protection-friendly open stable concepts
- Resource protection
- Tönnies partnership
- Purchase agreements between the farmer, cattle trade and Tönnies, with defined parameters with regard to animal welfare, sustainability and conditions
- Goals of the partnership
- Increase transparency in marketing
- More identity in meat marketing
- Calculable collection volume with origin information
- Planning security
- Operational processes that can be planned
- Improved delivery quantity forecast
- Increase in operational performance in the barn
- Further development of animal health and animal welfare for better meat quality
- Digital feedback of extensive data material
- Tönnies agricultural portal (including APP)
- Delivery / purchase contracts
- Integration of piglet production
- Active support in entering posture level 2
- The highest level of quality and service
- With assured availability of quantities and a fair price / performance ratio for the entire chain
- Basic animal welfare standards
- Scientifically proven criteria through our Tönnies research
- Optimization of livestock transport
- Preservation of German pig production through new / conversion concepts for animal welfare stalls
This occurs using modern technology, with help from farmers, veterinarians, etc. Strict regulations also require us to record and document this data. We thus collect, archive and analyse data on health, growth, veterinary inspections and so forth; for example, blood value data and the use of antibiotics. With pigs, this is carried out via the ear tags which store important data and – if required – this data can be exported. We thus further develop our cooperation with farmers and can track our raw materials for retail stores and consumers.
We regularly send the diagnostic data on the animals to our farmers. They then know that we are aware of the situation in the stall. If particular limits are exceeded, the producers often come to us themselves and ask for advice. We look for causes on site with our farmers and discuss ways to improve the situation. Then we observe whether the values in the diagnostic data have improved.
We are primarily business partners and have economic interests. However, we both gain the most from the partnership if we understand the goals of the other and work towards these goals. For us at Tönnies, this means: the farmer must benefit from the improvements in stall management just as much as we do. We also need a clear distribution of roles: the farmer knows best what happens in his or her stall and decides what to change. We support them where we can.