17 May 1996

Help outdoor producers

GOVERNMENTS animal welfare advisers have called for a change in set-aside rules to help tenant outdoor pig producers.

In its report on the welfare of outdoor pigs the Farm Animal Welfare Council, chaired by Sir Colin Spedding, urges government to open talks with the European Commission on the issue.

"Current set-aside rules require tenant farmers to change sites during January, which is often the worst time of year for the movement, and thus the welfare, of pigs," says the report. "We suggest these rules are reviewed to enable tenants to enter set-aside land in the autumn as currently practised by owner occupiers."

The FAWC report makes 48 recommendations to ministers covering site selection, training for newcomers and general management. It also raises concern over tooth-clipping, and tail docking.

From a welfare point of view, it says there is little to justify nose-ringing and it recommends research into the least painful methods.

"We expect this research to be completed within five years of this report when we intend to review the evidence and consider whether to recommend to ministers that nose ringing of pigs be prohibited." &#42