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OIE standards and animal welfare

Since 2004, the OIE has been developing animal welfare standards for inclusion in the OIE Terrestrial Code and Aquatic Code. The adopted standards are found in:

These standards cover the welfare of terrestrial animals and farmed fish. In addition to the transport and slaughter of animals produced for consumption, there are OIE standards on stray dogs and laboratory animals. The most recent area of work concerns farm animal production systems, with new intergovenmental standards for the production of broiler chickens, and for dairy and beef cattle.

Find all the standards published in the Terrestrial and Aquatic Codes and the standards under development in the OIE infographics on animal welfare:

         Click on the image to see the infographics in full screen mode              

OIE standards and international trade

Although the OIE animal welfare standards are not measures for health (sanitary measures) they are relevant to international trade. They are the only global, science-based standards on animal welfare agreed by the trading nations of the world. The basing of trade measures on science and the harmonisation of measures with intergovernmental standards are World Trade Organization (WTO) principles to facilitate safe trade and avoid unnecessary trade barriers; this is equally true of measures for animal welfare and for animal health.
A discussion paper has been published to present the relation between OIE animal welfare standards and the multilateral trade policy framework. This paper discusses the relevance and implications of the OIE animal welfare standards in the multilateral trade policy framework of the World Trade Organization, including the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). It also discusses the relevance of the OIE animal welfare standards in the development of bilateral agreements between Member Countries.


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The Seal case

The international dimension of animal welfare is a significant aspect of the Seal Dispute. In November 2009, Canada and Norway formally requested WTO consultations based on their complaints challenging import bans of seal products (based on animal welfare concerns) passed by Belgium, the Netherlands and the EU (ICTSD, 2009). The following discussion paper presents this case.


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Details of the OIE animal welfare standards:

Animal transport

The OIE provides standards related to the transport of terrestrial animals and farmed fish, by sea, land and air.

Terrestrial animals:

Aquatic animals:

 Killing animals in the context of disease control

These standards explain how to respect animal welfare following a decision to kill animals in the situation of an epizootic outbreak control or other emergency.

Terrestrial animals:

Aquatic animals:


Slaughter of animals for human consumption


These standards explain how to respect welfare of farmed animals that are slaughtered for human consumption:

Terrestrial animals:

Aquatic animals:

Welfare and the production of livestock for human consumption

Several chapters address the welfare aspects of farm animal production systems, including dairy and beef cattle and broiler chickens. The OIE is currently developing standards relating pig production systems, to be followed by laying hens.



Use of animals in research and education


The use of live animals in research and education provides for the advancement of scientific knowledge to protect human and animal health and life. However, concern about animal welfare has led to calls, in some countries, for bans on the use and transport of animals used in scientific research. Advancement in the field of medicine and veterinary science is crucially important but animal welfare should be respected. For this reason, the OIE has adopted standards for the use of animals in research and education.

Discussion paper on use of animals in research and education



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 In addition to the adopted standards for air transport of animals (including laboratory animals) the OIE, in collaboration with the International Air Transport Association (IATA), developed a discussion paper on the transport of laboratory animals. This paper identifies the reasons for allowing such transport, providing that animal welfare standards are respected. 

Discussion paper on air transport of laboratory animals



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Stray dog population control

Terrestrial Code Chapter 7.7 presents humane approaches to the control of dog populations.
The purpose of these recommendations is to advise Member countries on how to control stray and feral dog populations in a humane and effective manner. Stray dogs pose a serious risk to human health and animal health and have significant socioeconomic and environmental impact in many countries. Public health, including the prevention of serious zoonotic diseases, notably rabies and hydatidosis, is a priority.
The implementation of a control programme, along with dog identification, surveillance and vaccination for rabies, are the key steps in controlling rabies in dogs (also see Terrestrial Code Article 8.12.2. ‘Control of rabies in dogs’).

Welfare of working animals

In developing and least developed countries, working animals, especially equids, cattle and buffalo, play an important role in many sectors, particularly agriculture and the transport of goods and people. It has been estimated that 1 billion people, including many of the world’s poorest, depend directly on animals for their livelihoods. Despite the important contribution of working animals, there is little recognition of their role by governments and donor organisations. Working animals routinely suffer significant health and welfare problems and only a few NGOs are active in this area, such as SPANA and Brooke, global NGOs who are dedicated to improving the welfare of working animals through veterinary care and the provision of training and education to animal owners and the public, notably to children. In 2016 the Assembly adopted Chapter 7.12. on Welfare of working equids.

In 2013 the OIE prepared a discussion paper on working animals.



Download the Discussion paper