Update on Real Welfare Review

by 5m Editor
15 November 2013, at 5:21am

UK - A major review of Real Welfare started in September and, after the second meeting, some more changes have been proposed.

The open meeting was attended by people from across the industry covering producers, vets, processors and retailers.

The recommendations were to suspend the requirement to measure mild marks on both the body and tails, on the grounds that the information return was too small for the effort required and the difficulty in detecting mild marks among dirty or coloured pigs made the quality of data questionable.

Though the requirement to measure these has been suspended, producers and vets who see value in continuing to do so can continue to submit data, in the same way that some are continuing to submit environmental enrichment data.

The environmental enrichment measure has already been suspended and a number of alternative ways of assessing it will be drawn up and presented in December. Depending on what emerges from that work, any promising design will then go out for field trials to determine its effectiveness.

The recommendations from the meeting were submitted for consideration by the BPEX Board of Directors, as the owners of the protocol.

The Red Tractor Pigs Technical Advisory Committee also considered the recommendations, to make sure that they considered the changed Real Welfare protocol to still be robust and valuable. Both the BPEX Board and Red Tractor Pigs TAC accepted the recommendations and the changes to the protocol will come into effect on 14 November.

Red Tractor Pigs Chairman, Mike Sheldon, who chaired the review meeting, said: “There will be another meeting in December where we will push on with making any necessary changes to Real Welfare.

“New to the agenda will be a review of the sampling process for each of the measures, to see if we can make things simpler and more practicable. We will also be making progress on redesigning the way in which we assess environmental enrichment.”

Chairman of the BPEX Board, Stewart Houston said: “We are trying to do something difficult that has never been done before. We have always said, and will continue to say, that we will keep whatever works well in the protocol and change the things that don’t work so well in order that they do.”

NPA Chairman, Richard Longthorp, added: “NPA Producer Group members voted unanimously, in favour of continuing with Real Welfare audits. They acknowledged there were significant problems which must be rectified, but were clear that the overall concept was correct.”

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