Over time, the scope of the “five freedoms” has been significantly expanded. Based on the example of the first item, freedom from hunger and thirst, a total ban on the use of antibiotics in feed and synthetic stimulants and hormones to accelerate animal growth has been introduced in the European Union. Animals are not only free from hunger and thirst, but also from objectionable and harmful feed additives. As a result of the use of appropriate feed adapted to the animals’ needs, reared birds are free from disease and the pressure of disease incidence is reduced. In addition, every bird reared in Europe needs to have constant access to water in quantity and quality appropriate to its needs. In some EU countries, such as Poland, the requirements for water for animals presuppose access to water of the same quality as that for humans.
Another important point is freedom from discomfort, strongly linked to freedom to express normal behaviour. The European Union takes a very restrictive approach to stocking density and living conditions, as a result of which veterinary inspectorates regularly check rearing locations for the correct stocking density. In most EU countries, farmers are obliged to report via the Internet the number of animals kept. These figures are then verified by the veterinary services – for example, in case of chicken production, their total weight per square metre must not exceed 33 kg.
Freedom from pain and disease, freedom from fear and stress – livestock in the European Union have full rights to veterinary care and proper treatment.
These rights include an obligation to take care of the animals kept. If the requirements are not met, animals may be taken away from the farmer and the farmer may be fined or prohibited from continuing animal production. Freedom from fear and stress is linked to proper training of staff working with animals and to ensuring appropriate living conditions. European producers successfully reduce stressors by adjusting parameters such as stocking density, air humidity, temperature and air speed to the animals’ living and behavioural needs.