Welfare Campaigners Highlight Illegal Pig Farming in EU

EU - Illegal pig farming in the EU is now so rife that the industry’s publications are packed with photos of farms clearly in breach of the law, according to a UK-based welfare campaigning organisation. Their present focus is on widespread tail-docking and the lack of provision of manipulable materials.
calendar icon 10 July 2014
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Compassion in World Farming has sent a dossier cataloguing photos from pig industry magazines and web sites in France, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain and the UK, to European Commissioner, Tonio Borg.

Peter Stevenson, Compassion’s Chief Policy Advisor, said: “It is ironic that the poster boys for the industry, who are being held up as examples of how to farm, would seem to be doing so in a way that is illegal under EU law. If this is what the industry aspires to then it is in seriously bad shape.”

The EU Pigs Directive says pigs must be given enrichment materials, specifically that they ‘must have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of material to enable proper investigation and manipulation activities, such as straw, hay, wood, sawdust, mushroom compost, peat or a mixture of such…’

Without such material, they are driven to boredom, which leads to tail biting. To prevent tail biting farmers dock (slice off) part of the pig’s tail. However, scientific research shows that the correct way to prevent tail biting is not to dock the tails but to keep the pigs in good conditions - above all to give them straw or some similar material. Accordingly, the Directive provides that before a farmer can tail dock he must have first tried to prevent tail biting by changing inadequate conditions.

Compassion’s new dossier of photos that have recently appeared in the pig sector’s own journals and websites shows many farms with no enrichment at all or with just metal chains, despite the fact that the Commission has made it clear that metal chains do not constitute effective enrichment and so do not, when used on their own, fulfil the Directive’s requirements. The photos show that all the pigs have had their tails docked with no attempt at first improving inadequate conditions.

The dossier complements Compassion’s own investigations into EU pig farming, which have revealed widespread breaches of the Pigs Directive.

Mr Stevenson added: “Since 2003 EU law has banned routine tail docking and required pigs to be given enrichment materials. However, most pig farmers simply refuse to obey the law. The EU pig industry is out of control, behaving as if it is above the law. The Commission is preparing guidelines on enrichment and tail docking. However, as most pig farmers ignore the law, what hope is there that they will respect mere guidelines?”

“We call on the Commission to start proceedings at the European Court against Member States who refuse to enforce the law,” he added.

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