Welfare movements - week one

UK - One week after the start of the foot and mouth outbreak there are 170,000 more pigs on England's pig farms and producers are rapidly running out of drinkers, feeders and building materials for temporary housing.
calendar icon 13 August 2007
clock icon 3 minute read

Those with adjoining land and access to large bales have been able to make temporary shanty towns. The picture below looks almost idyllic for the pigs - but the first heavy rain will turn it into a welfare nightmare.

At the request of Defra, Mick Sloyan has been putting together a paper this weekend which charts the countdown to disaster if pigs cannot be moved from their birthplace to their growing and finishing accommodation.

This issue is top of Defra's list of priorities and now Thursday night's temporary control zone has been cleared NPA is expecting Defra to put a proposal for welfare movements to secretary of state Hilary Benn at the earliest opportunity.

The fact that both Scotland and Wales have now decided controlled welfare movements do not to pose a risk, should encourage Defra to move swiftly.

Without wishing to unreasonably raise expectations, NPA expects that if there are no new foot and mouth alerts this weekend, same-holding movements will be approved by Monday and NPA will be looking for movements further afield very swiftly after that.

The association shares the view of the Scotland and Wales administrations that as such movements will be in biosecure pig production pyramids the epidemiological risk is negligible.

NPA chairman Stewart Houston has praised producers for their ingenuity in averting a welfare crisis so far. But he warned today that producers' options are rapidly running out as pigs continue to build up on farms.

If Defra remains unconvinced that pigs can be moved safely, new-born pigs will have to be slaughtered in situ. Defra has scheduled a conference call with the industry for 1pm Monday.

  • NPA is asking producers to keep a photographic record of their mounting pig welfare problems, for use if this becomes a political issue. Either keep your pictures on file until NPA asks for them, or email them to Barney Kay as you take them (including details of who you are and where you farm).
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