FURTHER WELFARE reform packages are likely to be introduced from Brussels over the next few years, according to EU sources.

These may well include the redesign of farrowing crates and slatted systems to reflect a more welfare-friendly production system.

For those units with more than 750 sow places or capacity for over 2000 finishers, additional costs to comply with the Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC) directive will also arise.

These rules already apply to new pig units and will be extended to existing set-ups from the end of 2006.  

This may prove to be a turning point for many elderly indoor units, especially if pig returns at that time remain marginal.

However, reinvestment in indoor units may be hampered by the rising costs of borrowing. 

UK base rates rose by 0.25% on Thurs, June 3, and the popular Pig Ongoers Scheme, which provided a 5% interest rate subsidy, looks unlikely to be reintroduced following its closure a year ago.