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Protection of farmed animals



Directive 98/58/EC — protection of animals kept for farming purposes


  • It lays down general rules concerning the protection of farmed animals, irrespective of the species.
  • These apply to farmed animals destined for the production of foodstuffs, wool, skin or fur, or for other farming purposes, including fish, reptiles and amphibians.


  • All EU countries have ratified the European Convention for the Protection of Animals Kept for Farming Purposes. The main articles of this relate to the provision of housing, feed and care appropriate to the needs of these animals.
  • EU countries must take account of these animal welfare requirements when drawing up and implementing EU legislation, especially in the area of agricultural policy.


This directive applies to animals (including fish, reptiles and amphibians) reared or kept for the production of food, wool, skin or fur or for other farming purposes. It does not apply to:

  • wild animals
  • animals intended for use in sporting or cultural events (shows)
  • experimental or laboratory animals
  • invertebrate animals.

To learn more details about specific categories of animals, see also:

Rearing conditions

EU countries must adopt rules to ensure that the owners or keepers of animals look after the welfare of their animals and see that those animals are not caused any unnecessary pain, suffering or injury. Based on past experience and current scientific knowledge, the rearing conditions relate to the following.

  • Staff: animals must be looked after by a sufficient number of staff who have the appropriate professional skills, knowledge and competence.
  • Inspections: all animals kept in husbandry systems must be inspected at least once a day. Injured or ill animals must be treated immediately and isolated if necessary in suitable premises.
  • Maintaining records: the owner or keeper of the animals must keep a record of any medical treatment for at least three years.
  • Freedom of movement: all animals, even if tethered, chained or confined, must be given enough space to move without unnecessary suffering or injury.
  • Buildings and accommodation: materials used in the construction of buildings must be capable of being cleaned and disinfected. Air circulation, dust levels, temperature and relative humidity should be kept within acceptable limits. Animals kept in buildings must not be kept in permanent darkness or constantly exposed to artificial lighting.
  • Automatic or mechanical equipment: automatic or mechanical equipment essential for the health and well-being of the animals must be inspected at least once a day. Where an artificial ventilation system is in use, an appropriate backup system must be in place to guarantee sufficient air renewal.
  • Feed, water and other substances: the animals must be given a wholesome and appropriate diet, fed to them in sufficient quantities and at regular intervals. All other substances are prohibited, unless given for therapeutic or prophylactic reasons or for the purposes of zootechnical treatment. In addition, the feeding and watering equipment must minimise the risks of contamination.
  • Mutilations: national rules on mutilation apply.
  • Rearing methods: rearing methods that cause suffering or injury must not be used unless their impact is minimal, brief or expressly allowed by the national authorities. No animal should be kept on a farm if it is harmful to its health or welfare.


EU countries must take the necessary steps to ensure that the competent national authorities carry out inspections. They must report on these inspections to the European Commission, which will use the reports to formulate proposals on harmonising inspections.

Evaluation and implementation

Every 5 years, the Commission must report to the Council on the implementation of this directive, with proposals for improvement, if appropriate. The Council adopts this report by qualified majority vote.

EU countries are allowed to keep or introduce stricter provisions.

Official controls regulation

Regulation (EU) 2017/625, the EU’s new legislation on the official controls of human food and animal feed, amends certain minor technical details of the directive. These changes will apply from 14 December 2019.


It has applied since 8 August 1998. EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 31 December 1999.


For more information, see:


Council Directive 98/58/EC of 20 July 1998 concerning the protection of animals kept for farming purposes (OJ L 221, 8.8.1998, pp. 23–27)

Successive amendments to Directive 98/58/EC have been incorporated into the original document. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Regulation (EU) 2017/625 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2017 on official controls and other official activities performed to ensure the application of food and feed law, rules on animal health and welfare, plant health and plant protection products, amending Regulations (EC) No 999/2001, (EC) No 396/2005, (EC) No 1069/2009, (EC) No 1107/2009, (EU) No 1151/2012, (EU) No 652/2014, (EU) 2016/429 and (EU) 2016/2031 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Regulations (EC) No 1/2005 and (EC) No 1099/2009 and Council Directives 98/58/EC, 1999/74/EC, 2007/43/EC, 2008/119/EC and 2008/120/EC, and repealing Regulations (EC) No 854/2004 and (EC) No 882/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council, Council Directives 89/608/EEC, 89/662/EEC, 90/425/EEC, 91/496/EEC, 96/23/EC, 96/93/EC and 97/78/EC and Council Decision 92/438/EEC (Official Controls Regulation) (OJ L 95, 7.4.2017, pp. 1–142)

See consolidated version.

Commission Decision 2006/778/EC of 14 November 2006 concerning minimum requirements for the collection of information during the inspections of production sites on which certain animals are kept for farming purposes (OJ L 314, 15.11.2006, pp. 39–47)

See consolidated version.

last update 13.11.2017