Gov’t to certify farms for ‘humane’ livestock

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Gov’t to certify farms for ‘humane’ livestock

Korea is trying to encourage the free-range livestock trend.

The Animal, Plant and Fisheries Quarantine and Inspection Agency yesterday launched a new certification program guaranteeing a better living environment for farm animals that have been confined in small spaces.

The agency under the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will certify certain chicken farms that raise egg-laying hens this year, and will later expand the target livestock every year.

The new program will monitor if the farms provide humane living environments to hens, including enough space for the animals to move around and stretch their wings. It will enable the animals to exhibit their natural behavior on the farm.

Farms that raise hogs will be monitored and certified next year, as will all chicken farms in 2014 and hanwoo, or Korean beef, and dairy farms in 2015.

Livestock products from these farms will be certified. Eggs laid by hens raised on certified farms are expected to hit shelves starting in June. These eggs will cost 2.8 times more than the average egg price, according to the research report by the inspection agency.

“The more we raise the bar for animal welfare, the better we prevent the outbreak of disease,” said director Lee Sang-jin of the Inspection Agency’s Animal Protection and Welfare Division.

To be certified, the farms will have to keep farm sanitation records for at least two years and purchase necessary vaccines. Certified farms are not allowed to keep livestock in closed cages, and the livestock should have at least six hours of dark and eight hours of daylight each day to keep their biorhythms natural.

Around 50 farms are expected to apply for the certification process this year. There were about 1,400 farms that raise egg-laying hens across the country as of December last year.

The quarantine agency says it is currently discussing providing a monetary reward to farms that are certified in an attempt to widely implement the new program quickly. It will also try to implement a system that checks how animals are transported and slaughtered.

By Lee Sun-min []

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