EU Welfare Legislation on Pigs

Wageningen UR Livestock Research has published a useful review of the animal welfare legislation relating to pigs in the European Union.
calendar icon 6 May 2010
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EU Directive 2008/120/EC covers existing pig welfare legislation in the EU, and repeats the intention of the Commission to evaluate the legislation on the basis of scientific evidence. In anticipation of this review, the Dutch ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality asked Wageningen UR Livestock Research to describe the present situation regarding the translation of Directive 2008/120/EC into national legislation by the member states. The authors of the review were M. Mul, I. Vermeij, V. Hindle and H. Spoolder.

Wageningen UR Livestock Research was also asked to list national government-funded research on pig welfare issues related to the Directive, covering the past five years. A brief questionnaire was send to government officials, welfare scientists or both to obtain the relevant information.

Implementation of the directive

Except for two relative new members, all states have implemented Directive 2008/120/EC in their legislation.

A limited number of countries formulated stricter or additional demands to the EU legislation, with floor area, floor design and group housing of sows as the main themes with additional demands.

Government funding of research

Governments of more than half the member states fund research on pig welfare issues. The main themes are group housing of sows, environmental enrichment, floor design, castration and farrowing pens.


Based on this inventory, the authors cautiously conclude that the authorities expect changes in demands on the subjects of castration due to market demands or due to the forthcoming review of the EU legislation. The subject of group housing is possibly not challenged but implemented. Changing regulation on farrowing pens is probably demanded but Members States are hesitant to change it. The subject of environmental enrichment is more difficult to interpret.

The continued effort to solve the tail docking issue despite the lack of practical results may imply a desire to substantiate a removal of the EU ban on tail docking, or in contrast be a genuine attempt to make it possible to stop docking, and does enforce the current legislation, e.g. by legislating for straw or toys.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report (in English) by clicking here.

May 2010
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