3 April 1998

Submit sow house plans now or else – warning

UNLESS planning applications are submitted in the next two months for sow houses to replace stall and tether systems, producers risk losing markets for finished pigs.

That warning comes from ADAS senior pig consultant, Mike Brade, who says planning applications can take three to six months to be approved. "If plans for new yards arent submitted soon theres a danger of the ban being in place before units are up."

The situation is exacerbated further as Mr Brade suggests many pig building and feed system installers are already working flat out to complete new housing ahead of the ban.

No official figures

Although no official figures exist on the number of stall and tether based systems yet to convert, some industry sources believe it could be 15-20% – all of which risk losing markets for finished pigs when the ban is enforced.

However, producers claim retailers are already beginning to reject pigs reared from sows kept in stall and tether housing.

That claim comes from producers wishing to remain anonymous who contacted farmers weekly this week, to suggest pigs reared from stall and tether systems have begun to be sidelined by retailers.

Producers are forced to retain finished pigs, which become over fit and achieve lower grading, to fit into separate slaughter days for stall-and-tether reared pigs.

Nonsense claim

But Max Hilliard, managing director of Malton Foods, one of the UKs largest pig meat processors, says claims of retailers pushing the ban forward is nonsense.

"Only one retailer has openly stated its policy of going stall-and-tether free ahead of the ban – and that is Tesco."

Mr Hilliard suggests abattoirs may be using the concept that supermarkets dont want stall-and-tether reared pigs in order to guarantee supplies for customers ahead of the ban.

Simon Wragg