24 May 1996

FAWCreport says choose the right site before moving out

SUITABLE site selection forms the basis of a Farm Animal Welfare Council report into outdoor pigs.

Released at the Pig and Poultry Fair, the 38-page report makes recommendations on suitable soil type, rainfall, drainage and topography and warns against the use of sites prone to waterlogging and poaching.

The report suggests sites should be assessed individually and provide free movement for pigs between huts, water and feed areas, which should be kept dry for feed distribution. Access should also be adequate for the stockman to carry out routine tasks daily and allow easy movement of pigs as required. Stocking density should not exceed 25 sows a hectare (10/acre) on an ideal site and ground conditions should be carefully monitored.

Also among the 48 recommendations listed was the need for each herd to have a written health and welfare programme that should concentrate on stockman training and calls for research into nose-ringing, tail-docking and tooth-clipping.

Neil Mattingly, MAFF welfare officer, said that current welfare codes for pigs were not detailed enough for the outdoor industry, which had grown to 20% of the national herd since the codes were published.

"There is a need for separate codes and after further consultation and consideration of the FAWC recommendations codes could be drawn up.

NFU pig adviser, Dafydd Owen said: "The recommendations send clear signals to producers as to how they should select and manage a site. If codes are produced with this report as the basis they would provide further evidence to the consumer that the British pig industry has the highest welfare standards in the world."