Weekly Overview: End in Sight for Sow Stalls in Canada

GLOBAL - Canada has a new Code of Practice on pig welfare that spells the end of sow stalls as well as including new standards for pain control and environment enrichment, writes Jackie Linden. It has been generally welcomed by the industry and animal welfare campaigners. Six out of 10 Australian sows are now in group housing systems, it was revealed last week.
calendar icon 10 March 2014
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Three years in the making and Canada has published its updated pig welfare rules in the 'Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs'.

Highlights of the revised Code, published last week, include a full commitment to adopt loose housing for sows and gilts in all new facilities built after 1 July 2014, new pain control requirements and enhanced environmental enrichment.

The Code is a product of the National Farm Animal Care Council and the Code Development Committee, a 17-person committee comprising representatives from the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies, pig producers, scientists, transporters, processors, veterinarians and government.

The new Code has generally been warmly welcomed.

Chair of the Canadian Pork Council (CPC), Jean-Guy Vincent, commented: "The new Code is a source of tremendous pride. It represents our commitment to the animals in our care, the sustainability of our industry, our ability to work collaboratively with a diverse stakeholder group and the leadership we provide to a global industry."

Florian Possberg, pork producer and Chair of the Code Development Committee, said: "The new Code of Practice is a significant step forward for the Canadian industry. It is a step that recognises the healthy and rigorous debate of a diverse group of stakeholders to constructively address pig welfare in Canada."

Jackie Wepruk of the National Farm Animal Care Council commented: "It's a starting point for continual improvement - not only in terms of how pig welfare is addressed but how all these different perspectives on animal welfare can work together."

A note of caution came from Alberta Pork: "While the work of revising the Code may have ended, the greater challenge of implementing it has just begun."

Animal welfare campaigners, Humane Society International/Canada described the new Code as a "watershed moment for farm animals in Canada and throughout North America".

Also on sow housing, a survey revealed at last week's ABARES Outlook conference indicated that more than 60 per cent of sows in Australia are now kept in group housing systems.

The latest report on cases of Porcine Epidemic Diarrhoea (PED) in the United States has not yet been released but fears of the disease and its effects on pig meat production in North America are driving the markets there and further afield, making those producers unaffected by the disease optimistic about the future.

One Canadian biotech firm is talking about the prospect of a PED vaccine within three months.

The agency investigating the transmission of the PED virus in blood products used in pig feeds has be unable to confirm this as a source of the spread of the disease.

African Swine Fever virus has been reported in wild boar in the Volgograd and Rostov regions of Russia in the last week.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is evaluating the effectiveness of control measures to reduce the spread of the virus among wild boars and is due to report later this week.

The EU Food and Veterinary Office has published the results of its audit into Estonia's ASF control measures, highlighting the potential dangers of pig meat smuggled in luggage of passengers crossing its borders.

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