17 January 2001
UK urged to push for pig welfare

By FWi staff

BRITAIN has been urged by an animal welfare group to take a leading role in seeing that a Brussels blueprint to improve conditions for pigs becomes law.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals welcomed the proposals announced by the European Commission on Tuesday (16 January).

Proposals for a Council Directive include banning the stall-and-tether system – a practice outlawed in Britain since 1999.

The commission for wants an obligatory minimum size of sow pens, allowing space at least for turning round.

Pigs should also be provided with rooting materials and separate non-slatted lying areas, and pig handlers trained, says the commission.

Dr Julia Wrathall of the RSPCA said: “It is vitally important that the UK Government takes a strong lead in Europe and ensures that conditions for all pigs improve now as a matter of urgency.”

The society was disappointed that sows would still be kept in small individual pens for the first four weeks of pregnancy, and farrowing crates still permitted.

It was also unhappy that there was no mention of space requirements for boars and fattening pigs, and that measures would not be compulsory until 2012.

Compassion in World Farming welcomed the proposal to ban sow stalls, which it said led to a host of mental and physical problems in pigs.

The National Pig Association said it could not yet comment on the proposals as it was still studying the implications for UK producers.

The EC proposals will be presented to the European Parliament for consultation before European agriculture ministers make a final decision later in the year.