The welfare friendly UK pig industry has been given a further boost by the latest Waitrose announcement on farrowing crates.

According to the National Pig Association, Waitrose have said that the use of farrowing crates will be completely outlawed in the production of all own brand bacon sourced in Denmark.

Waitrose have already been leaders in the move towards outdoor breeding systems in the UK.

Protection for piglets

They have described the farrowing crate as the industry equivalent to a battery cage for hens.

Farrowing crates are used on an almost universal basis on indoor units throughout the UK and mainland Europe providing vital protection for young piglets.

Alternatives

But with up market retailers becoming more concerned over annual welfare issues, producers would be well advised to consider alternatives to the farrowing crate if they wish to supply the top end of the food chain.

Indoor producers have however claimed that it would be impossible to operate their units on a viable basis without the use of farrowing crates.

High feed prices

Farrowing crates provide vital protection for young piglets from overlying at the most vulnerable stage of their life.

The NPA have also raised concerns over viability of the indoor pig industry without the use of farrowing crates, especially at a time when feed prices are going through the roof.

Growing demand

Over 35% of UK breeding herds are now kept outdoors. 

Although UK outdoor production only accounts for less than 1.5% of the overall EU herd, UK breeders will be well placed to meet growing demand for non-intensively bred pigmeat in the future.