The conditions of livestock kept at MCAST’s Animal Science department have raised questions about EU legislation on animal welfare.
Photos uploaded online by Animal Liberation Malta show rabbits, chickens and other animals housed in cages with subpar sanitary conditions. As shocking as it may be, all that is seen remains above board and follows standards set by Malta and the EU.
“We are following industry standards. It’s something we adhere to and we operate according to what the legislation allows for,” Malcolm Borg, Deputy Director of MCAST Centre of Agriculture, Aquatics and Animal Sciences, told Lovin Malta.
In one photo, blood can be seen dripping from a rabbit cage shortly after a doe gave birth.
“It’s a natural process and we clean the blood soon after,” Borg said.
The post sparked anger online with many showing sympathy towards the caged animals while calling for an end to this practice.
Speaking to Lovin Malta, Animal Welfare Commissioner Alison Bezzina acknowledged people’s disgust but argued that not much can be done unless legislation is changed.
“Technically speaking they are above board and are not breaking any standards,” she said. “If people are shocked and appalled by it, they can start by not contributing to the industry”.
On a more personal note, Bezzina believes that these standards fall far below what is to be expected.
“Personally I find a lot wrong with it,” she said. “Animal Welfare inspectors found nothing wrong with it according to the EU regulations in place right now, but not in principle”.
Earlier this year, a European Citizen’s Initiative calling upon the EU to abolish the practice of caging farm animals received overwhelming support with over 1.4 million people across the bloc backing the cause.
If successful, End The Cage Age would transform the farming industry in the EU so that animal welfare is a priority.
“There’s always room for improvement,” Borg said. “The EU is improving its standards on and off the farm and it’s a step in the right direction. We will adhere to the standards, we always say that the happier the animal on the farm, the better the product is”.
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