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Virtual animal welfare on Farmland

News Section Icon Published 20/11/2008

A new online video game by the European Commission released shows children what animal welfare can mean on a farm. The website is translated in nine European languages and produced with the support of the Directorate General for Health and Consumers.

Play the game...

Farmland is a virtual farm where pigs, laying hens, chickens, cows and calves are reared with an eye to basic animal welfare. European farmers Berenice, Amandine, Paolo, Miguel, Bertrand and Marc work hard every day to run the farm, bearing in mind that animals are sentient beings.

"The game is a good fun way to ensure children understand where their food comes from but it does shy away from showing some of the harsh realities of European farming," says John Callaghan, Compassion's Director of Programmes. "Across Europe the vast majority of chickens and pigs are kept in overcrowded conditions but this game from the European Commission shows that animal welfare is on their radar."

To be a good farmer, the player needs to show total respect of the animal and follow the principles of the Five Freedoms:

  • Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour
  • Freedom from fear and distress

If in doubt to what the animals need, the virtual farmer can click on "The life of animals" button and discover what the basic requirements for each species are. Compassion in World Farming has advised the EU Directorate General for Health and Consumers about animal welfare standards and helped to shape the contents of the teachers' material which will be released later this year.

The video game provides a fun insight into the production of meat, eggs and milk, and promotes consumer awareness. In its supermarket section the player is requested to identify which animal each product comes from. The importance of labelling is also highlighted, especially on free range eggs.

For example, farmer Miguel takes care of laying hens and warns the player about how important the respect of their biological rhythm is. He also advises that they need to move around freely, stretch their wings, eat and drink at regular intervals.

Achieving a ban on battery cages in the EU by 2012 is just one of the things that our supporters have helped us accomplish so far. Much still remains to be done to ensure animals are treated humanely.

Take Action:

  • Write to the EU Commissioner Vassiliou to improve the labelling of meat chickens
  • Call on Commissioner Vassiliou to start work urgently on a review of the Pigs Directive

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