DENMARK - The food minister is showing his determination to improve pig welfare by announcing farm inspections to ensure that adequate rooting and enrichment material is being provided to comply with EU and Danish regulations.
Food Minister, Dan Jørgensen, (pictured) has announced the launch of a new targeted inspection campaign to ensure that pig farmers comply with the rules for rooting and enrichment material in piggeries.
Insufficient rooting and enrichment materials prevents the pigs from expressing their natural behaviour and leads to poorer welfare, including through more aggressive and inappropriate biting.
After welfare checks by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA) have found numerous violations of rules on farms over several years, Mr Jørgensen has put his campaign into action.
He said there will now be a firm clamp-down where the rules are not being adhered to, and that his campaign aims to ensure that, at least, straw is provided in pig pens.
He added that he finds it deeply worrying that DVFA controls find violations of the rules, where farmers are cheating their animals for a minimum of stimulation - year after year.
"I will put an end to it now," said Mr Jørgensen.
Violations may be punished with a warning, injunctions and police investigation. Farmers then risk losing part of their EU subsidy in case of persistent non-compliance.
The campaign will run from April until the autumn.
Tail-docking to be Significantly Reduced
The main declaration made last month on improving pig welfare called for a significant reduction in tail docking of piglets, and insufficient rooting and enrichment material frustrates this ambition, according to the agriculture ministry.
Mr Jørgensen said that if pigs cannot express their natural behaviour by rooting in straw, for example, they turn to biting each others' tails.
The goal to reduce tail-biting was included in last month's declaration, a goal set by the industry itself, he added.
Results of Previous Inspections
Of the around 600 farms on which DVFA carried out welfare checks in 2012, about 100 warnings were issued because there was not enough rooting and enrichment material.
Lat year, the orgniasation publishied a guide on the subject, which includes images illustrating acceptable practices.
The EU requires all pigs to have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of straw or anything else that can meet their needs. In addition, Denmark has a special requirement that all pigs must be able to fulfil their rooting needs.
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