21 July 1997
Bigger pens for British pigs
THE British Pig Association (BPA) says it will welcome new rules on space requirements for growing pigs but has urged the UK government to press other member states to comply.
The soon-to-be introduced rules on pen sizes for growing pigs is a European Commission initiative designed to improve the quality of life for EU pigs.
But while the BPA supports the new rules, BPA chairman John Godfrey said: The welfare conscious UK pig farmer must not again be disadvantaged by the apparent disregard that most of the EU states show for animal welfare.
Under the proposals – to be introduced in January next year – stock densities are to be arranged in different weight groups, but this creates its own problems according to the BPA because livestock doesnt grow in staggered and sudden steps.
For example, a pig that grows from 20 to 21kg immediately requires a 50% increase in space from 0.2sqm per pig to 0.3sqm per pig.
Pig producers will need to stand beside weighing scales with a calculator in one hand and a tape measure in the other to decide the appropriate pen size for their pigs, Mr Godfrey said.
But the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has released its own interpretation of the rules which smoothes out the weight graph problem making it easier for farmers to comply.
Dry sow stalls and pig tethers have also been banned under the new EC rules starting in 1999. The BPA said it has launched an initiative to assist those farmers with stalls and tethers to convert to new systems.