28 February 1997

Welfare high on French pig list

WELFARE is becoming an increasingly important issue in the French pig industry, according to an industry organisation at this weeks SIMA show in Paris (full report next week).

Pierre Rousseau, of the French pig research organisation LInstitut Technique du Porc, said that welfare research will be a key feature of the institutes new 170-sow research farm currently being built in Brittany.

Mr Rousseau claimed that only 20% of the French sow population was still tethered, despite the fact that French producers do not have to meet legislation banning tethers until 2005.

"Only a small proportion of pigs are still tethered, and those producers will have to change. However, most producers have already extended stall width from 60cm to 65cm."

The use of larger pens and straw will be a key research topic at the new pig unit, but it is unlikely to be adopted by French farmers, said Mr Rousseau.

"French producers far prefer stalls, and few use straw. Most sows are on slatted floors, and any move to pens and deep litter would increase labour requirements dramatically," he warned.