Slat Issue Resolved

by 5m Editor
14 May 2012, at 7:04am

EU - Finishers with concrete slats with a slot width of more than 18mm, but not more than 21mm, will not need to replace them after all.

And more good news... producers may include the space occupied by free-access feeders when calculating 1.64 square metres of unobstructed floor area for gilts and 2.25 square metres for sows.

This news will be warmly welcomed by pig-keepers all over Europe.

Defra, NPA and BPEX have been working to prevent the rules, which come into force in January along with the partial stalls ban, from bringing the European pig industry to its knees.

With the help of data collected from NPA members in a website survey, NPA and BPEX explained to Defra that the 18mm slot rule for concrete slats would cost British pig producers well over 317m, as the prevailing slot width is 19-20mm (3/4in).

The situation is the same over much of the continent, indicating a total cost of replacing concrete slats for the sake of two or three millimetres, of well over 350m.

But this week the European Commission has indicated it agrees with the Defra, BPEX and NPA view that owing to the imprecise nature of concrete products a tolerance should be allowed.

Brussels has told Defra that the relevant European Standard, which allows for a 3mm tolerance, "should be taken into account when checking compliance".

This news will cause British pig-keepers with a slot with of 19mm-21mm to heave a sigh of relief. But those with a slot width of over 21mm will still have some unpalatable decisions to make.

A number of producers were also concerned about whether the space occupied by free-access feeders could be included when calculating unobstructed floor area for gilts and sows.

Brussels has confirmed to Defra this week that as the pigs are free to enter and leave these stalls the space they occupy may be included as part of the total unobstructed floor area required by the January 2013 space allowance rule.

NPA General Manager Zoe Davies said: "We have certainly saved many producers sleepless nights and much needed cash over this issue, but we couldn't have done it without the industry pulling together, giving us the evidence we needed to prove our case, and the willingness of Defra to listen and help rather than taking a hard line stance. We are also very grateful that on this occasion, the Commission has seen sense and listened to our logical arguments. A great result.“