Pig farmers have been warned to wear earmuffs when feeding their herds to stop them being deafened.

The Health and Safety Executive said squeals made by pigs while they are eating can reach over 100 decibels, louder than a circular saw or a power drill.

In a leaflet, Farmwise – An Essential Guide to Health and Safety in Farming, the HSE said farmworkers should wear protection, such as earmuffs or plugs when feeding swine.

According to the HSE, workers should not be exposed regularly to sounds above 87 decibels, but “intensively-housed animals can create noise levels above the action levels”.

The noise in pig farms where hundreds of swine are kept close together in sheds can reach 100dB or more during feeding, it added.

The HSE-recommended livestock farmers should avoid working around pigs at feeding time by changing feeding regimes or doing other jobs when the animals have been fed.

“Reduce the duration of exposure by job rotation, providing a noise refuge, or arranging the work so that no one needs to be in the noisy area,” it said.

Areas where sounds reach 85dB or higher should be marked as “hearing protection zones” where farmworkers should be made to wear hearing protection, it added.