Later weaning too expensive

28 November 1997

Later weaning too expensive

CALLS by animal welfarists to delay weaning of piglets until they are at least six weeks old would result in £200m losses to the pig industry.

Mick Sloyan, Meat and Livestock Commission pig strategy manager, said that raising the weaning age from its current average of three-and-a-half weeks would mean fewer pigs a sow a year.

"We looked at a scenario where pigs were either weaned at 21.5 or 39 days. If one weans at the later stage, the difference would be a loss of 3.4 pigs a sow a year.

"With pigs making £70 a head, that works out at £250 a sow a year. Taking into account there are 788,000 sows in the UK, it works out at a loss of value of £200m."

His comments followed this weeks Press conference by Compassion in World Farming highlighting Chris Mullins Health and Welfare of Pigs Bill (News, Nov 11), which proposes that intensively-reared piglets should not to be weaned until they are at least six weeks old.

CIWF claimed piglets were weaned so early that they still wanted to suckle and, as a result, they sometimes bit their fellows tails.

Mr Sloyan pointed out that governments welfare advisers, the Farm Animal Welfare Council, had concluded that weaning from three weeks of age was accep-table.

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