5 September 1997

FAWC report prompts MAFF rethink on pigs

MAFF is to produce a revised welfare code for outdoor pigs incorporating many of the recommendations made in the Farm Animal Welfare Councils report, published 15 months ago.

FAWCs recommendations that guidance on stockmanship training should be included in the new code, as well as advice on site suitability, has been accepted by MAFF. It has also agreed with the welfare councils view that tooth clipping and tail docking should not be carried out routinely.

"The government is concerned at reports that the greater proportion of piglets are routinely tail docked and tooth clipped, and will be seeking to bring about a reduction in these procedures," said MAFFs response to the report.

Government also agreed with FAWC that from a welfare point of view there was little to justify nose ringing.

But the NFU is disappointed that MAFFs response to the FAWC report includes no indication that government will fund research, recommended by its own animal welfare council, into the above practices.

"We support MAFF plans for full industry consultation before the revised code is approved," says NFU pig committee chairman, Graham England. "But it is disappointing that government has no intention of funding the research called for by FAWC. We need welfare codes based on sound science."

Director of Berks-based Cambac JMA Research, Jane Guise, agrees there is a need for more research on pig welfare. But says the balance of applied production research must now come from industry. "MAFFs days of funding near market research are long gone. There is an urgent need for more producer funded research and existing research must be better co-ordinated and communicated." &#42