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Our International Work with Farm Animals

FOUR PAWS has been working for decades to improve husbandry, transport and slaughter conditions for so-called farm animals such as cattle, ducks, poultry, pigs and sheep. Each year, billions of farm animals die after having lived a short life in terrible environments.
Through our international campaigns, we successfully ignited the transition towards animal-friendlier down production within the textile and bedding industry. Furthermore, the ban of cage-keeping of laying hens is a long-term goal of FOUR PAWS.

A few years ago, FOUR PAWS implemented an animal welfare labelling scheme that includes detailed requirements for husbandry, transport and slaughter. Our aim is to help consumers make an informed decision and support alternative, animal-friendlier production.


Here are a few areas in which we work:



Over one billion poultry and 37 million live cattlepigs, sheep, goats, and horses are transported across borders within the EU and to other countries every year. This results in huge animal welfare problems due to lengthy transportation times and poor transport conditions. In particular, animals marked for slaughter are often transported for several days in unsuitable conditions, during which some sustain serious injuries or even die. Many animals are bred, reared and slaughtered in different locations, increasing the time that each animal spends in transport. 



  1. Together with other animal welfare organizations we are lobbying on a European level not only for the revision of EU animal transport regulations but above all for their consistent application. 
  2. The governments of Germany, the Netherlands and Denmark have already called on the European Commission to revise the EU animal transport law (Council Regulation (EC) No. 1/2005). Sweden has also joined in calling for its amendment. 
  3. Now it is time for the other EU governments to take a stand and put pressure on the European Commission in order to improve transport conditions and finally put an end to the long-distance transportation of live animals.


  • Your purchasing habits and food choices decide day by day how animals are farmed and treated. Set a signal against live animal transport by replacing meat and animal products with plant-based alternatives as often as possible. 
  • When buying meat, always make sure that the animal was born, raised and slaughtered in your home country in order to avoid long-distance transportation. 



How animals are tortured to produce this delicacy

The pricey delicacy foie gras is based on incredible cruelty to animals. Through force-feeding, ducks and geese are intentionally tortured and made successively ill in order to produce this "luxury product". A metal pipe is rammed into the esophagus three times a day. A mixture of maize and pure fat is administered through this pipe, intended to cause rapid weight gain and the abnormal growth of the liver. The liver is unable to process these large amounts of fat and swells up to 10 times its normal size. 


What force-feeding means for ducks and geese

Through force-feeding, the fat content of the liver increases to over 50 percent. By the end of their lives, the animals can hardly move independently because of their corpulent bodies: their thin legs are often unable to support the weight and snap.

In addition, the brutal procedure of force-feeding through a metal pipe leads to grave damage to the esophagus. This is most clearly seen when the animals are left heavily panting after the feed has been administered.



The bloody business of sheep wool production

The wool business is thriving worldwide. The leading producers are Australia, South America and New Zealand. Like all mass production in which farm animals are involved, sheep farming and the production of wool are major animal welfare issues.


FOUR PAWS advocates responsible wool production

FOUR PAWS is part of the "Responsible Wool Standards" working group and aims to lastingly improve the lives of sheep in the wool industry. One thing is clear: the textile industry is not about to stop using wool. However, fashion labels and companies that process animal products must finally take on responsibility for the animals involved. An international standard can help to tackle animal welfare problems in wool production. FOUR PAWS is making sure that the highest possible requirements are met to ensure the well-being of farmed sheep.



  • Naturally, the most animal-friendly decision is not to purchase or use wool.
  • If giving up wool is not an option, buy from regional sheep wool producers. By visiting regional farms, you can see for yourself how the animals are kept.
  • Research whether companies have a policy or position on wool and wool procurement. If your Internet search is unsuccessful, contact the companies directly and ask about the origin of the wool, how the animals are kept and in which way the company supports an animal-friendly supply chain.

Other topics include: