To ensure better living conditions for animals, there should be stricter requirements for keeping them in stables, circuses and pets. The Federal Cabinet launched a draft by Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir that provides for several changes to the Animal Welfare Act.

The vast majority of owners live up to their responsibility, said the Green politician. But there are still deficits and therefore many animals suffer. If animals are doing better, that is also in the interests of their owners. The plans are not enough for animal rights activists.

The aim is to comprehensively strengthen animal protection and adapt existing regulations to current scientific findings, as the draft states. To this end, some common husbandry practices in agriculture should be banned or given new protection requirements.

At the same time, it is about making controls easier and tightening sanctions for serious violations. The bill should now come to the Federal Council before the summer break, i.e. by July 5th at the latest. Then it’s the Bundestag’s turn.

An overview:


There should be more restrictions on interventions that do not serve to cure diseases. In the future, clipping the tails of lambs will be prohibited – for piglets, it will only be allowed in individual cases with guidelines. If the horns of calves are burnt out, anesthesia should be mandatory, as is already the case in many cases, according to the ministry.

Tethering posture

In principle, the following applies to donkeys, goats and cattle: “An animal must not be kept tied up.” However, a special regulation is planned for the tethering of cattle, which is widespread in southern Germany: it is to be banned all year round in ten years. However, a “combination attitude” should remain possible.

Existing small farms with a maximum of 50 cattle can continue to tie animals in this way if they are outside during the grazing period and at least two per week can go outside during the rest of the time. Özdemir spoke of a compromise to combine more animal protection with nature and species protection on alpine pastures and mountain meadows.


In the future, video recordings will be required in “animal welfare-relevant” areas of slaughterhouses. This is intended to give authorities a better picture for controls, for example on narcotics regulations.


Keeping or displaying certain wild animals such as elephants, monkeys, giraffes or hippos “in changing locations” should be banned. Traveling circuses should not have to give up existing animals, but according to the ministry they are not allowed to buy new ones.

quail breeding

Methods of breeding animals for a certain appearance, such as eyes, fur and ears, should be curbed more strongly. No owner wants “their pet to suffer from heart defects or painful joint problems, to be able to barely breathe or even to die earlier,” said Özdemir. A list of signs should be expanded.

The minister made it clear that the breeding of healthy animals remains permitted; it is not about blanket bans on certain breeds, also with a view to the occasional fuss surrounding dachshunds. “This law does not ban the dachshund, it is a pro-dachshund law because it helps the dachshund to live pain-free.”

Online pet trading

Animals with torture breeding characteristics should no longer be allowed to be offered for sale on the Internet. Animal providers should also have to provide their data to platforms to ensure traceability. Several additional requirements for animal exchanges are also planned.


There should be more severe sanctions for serious animal welfare violations. For example, killing an animal without a “reasonable reason” will in future be punishable by five years instead of three years in prison if it is repeated persistently or if there are many animals affected. For attempts to mistreat or kill an animal, the fine should be increased from 25,000 euros to up to 50,000 euros.


The animal protection organization “Vier Pfoten” criticized “numerous deficiencies and gaps” in the plans and a weakening of important projects such as the ban on tethered housing. In a first draft it was planned in five years. Özdemir pointed out that the traffic light coalition agreement mentions ten years.

The consumer organization Foodwatch accused the Green Minister of giving in to the farmers’ lobby. The Union agricultural expert Albert Stegemann (CDU), however, criticized “one-sided negative consequences for domestic agriculture.”