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Proposed Changes in Environmental Enrichment Potentially Problematic

13 February 2014
Manitoba Pork Council

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CANADA - Red Tractor Assurance-Pigs suggests proposed changes to Canada's Pig Code of Practice in the area environmental enrichment have the potential of becoming problematic, Bruce Cochrane writes.

A revised Code of Practice for the care and handling of pigs in Canada is expected to be made public within the next two to three months.

Red Tractor Assurance is a UK based not for profit company owned by farmers, meat packers and retailers that sets standards for food production covering everything from animal welfare to traceability to the environment from the farm to the packing of the product.

Red Tractor Assurance-Pigs chair Michael Sheldon observes one area where it appears Canada's new pig code is going down a road similar to that followed in Europe is in the area of environmental enrichment, which is a real problem.

Michael Sheldon-Red Tractor Assurance-Pigs

On the one hand it seems completely obvious to consumers that pigs are naturally foraging animals and so therefore should be provided with something to in which to forage.

That seems to be an absolute truth as far as consumers are concerned and not something that is challengeable.

You ask any producer anywhere in the world how he might introduce foraging material into his farm and he says I can't and that's a problem because then you get into a situation of trying to design substitutes which satisfy the idea of environmental enrichment without messing up the operation of the farm, either economically or just managerially from the point of view of messing up the manure system.

This is a tough sell that goes on in every European country and has done for the last ten years and we haven't solved it in Europe.

We've got some bad law and we've got a lot of very angry people.

No one is happy with the definitions that we have and I think there is a possibility that will happen in Canada too.

Mr Sheldon suggests the Canadian industry will need to adopt a positive communications program that assures consumers that Canadian producers take animal welfare seriously, are on a journey of permanent improvement and constant raising of standards and that it's worth choosing Canadian pork because of those standards.

He says it's a tough sell but possible.

ThePigSite News Desk

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