UK Government publishes new code of practice for the welfare of pigs

This week, new guidance and a draft code of practice for the welfare of pigs was published on the Government website, replacing the Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Pigs, issued in 2003.
calendar icon 27 February 2020
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The new guidance details that staff working with animals must "read, understand and have access to the welfare code of recommendations for pigs. Welfare codes aren’t law, but if you don’t follow them it can be used as evidence in court if you’re prosecuted for causing unnecessary suffering to livestock".

It is recommended that all stockkeepers follow the guide to looking after farm animals which explains the general responsibilities of staff to farm animals and helps you follow the Welfare of Farmed Animals Regulations 2007 and related laws.

Some of the references to legislation in the welfare codes of recommendations are now out of date and instead you should reference the following as needed:

The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Pigs

The Code aims to encourage all those who care for farm animals to adopt the highest standards of husbandry. Without good stockmanship, animal welfare can never be adequately protected. If stockkeepers follow this code it will help them to meet the necessary welfare standards. No matter how acceptable a system may be in principle, without competent, diligent stockmanship, the welfare of the animals cannot be adequately catered for.

The welfare of pigs is considered within a framework that was developed by the Farm Animal Welfare Council and known as the “Five Freedoms”. These form a logical basis for assessing animal welfare within any husbandry system, together with the actions necessary to safeguard animal welfare within the limitations of an efficient livestock industry.

In acknowledging these freedoms, those people who care for livestock should demonstrate:

  • caring and responsible planning and management;
  • skilled, knowledgeable and conscientious stockmanship;
  • appropriate environmental design (for example, of the husbandry system);
  • considerate handling and transport;
  • humane slaughter.

Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Pigs

The latest version of the code describes welfare recommendations for the following areas of production:

  • Stockmanship.
  • Health.
  • Accommodation.
  • Feed, water and other substances.
  • Management.
  • Farrowing sows and piglets.
  • Weaners and rearing pigs.
  • Dry sows and gilts.
  • Boars.
  • Pigs kept in outdoor husbandry systems.

A summary of this is available on the Government website.

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