Do animals that are subjected to electric shocks experience unnecessary strains, such as discomfort, pain, stress or fear? The Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA) requests the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM) to summarize knowledge on how equipment that uses electric shocks affects animal welfare.
The reason for this assignment is due to the arrival of a new product on the market, Nofence. This system works by keeping grazing animals within a "virtual" enclosure using collars equipped with a GPS. As the animal approaches the boundary of a defined area, a warning sounding larm is emitted from the collar. This sound ceases if the animal turns around and moves in the opposite direction. However, if the animal continues to move in the same direction, the collar will deliver an electric shock as "punishment".
Use of equipment that subjects animals to electric shocks in order to achieve a desired behaviour is strictly regulated. Subjecting animals to electricity is illegal, with a few exeptions like outdoor electric fences. Using equipment as a form of punishment is in violation of the Animal Welfare Act.
The NFSA currently considers the use of Nofence as illegal in most cases, according to the Animal Welfare Act and expresses concerns regarding suitabilty of this product.
The scientific data on negative effects on animal welfare related to use of electric shocks is scarce. In order to evaluate impacts on animal welfare the NFSA requires more scientific documentation on this topic.
The VKM Panel on Animal Health and Welfare is responsible for this review.
The report will be published as soon as possible and no later than December 2017