- Farrowing crates are used in indoor production systemss to accommodate sows and newly farrowed piglets for a maximum of 28 days after birth. BPEX supports the use of farrowing crates as they provide the optimal holistic welfare solution for the sow, her litter and members of staff caring for them.
The indoor farrowing crate uniquely provides four of the five basic freedoms for both the sow and the piglet during the maximum 28 days that they may be used per litter:
- Freedom from hunger and thirst
- Freedom from discomfort
- Freedom from pain injury and disease
- Freedom from fear and distress
BPEX considers the quality and expertise of the staff members managing animals in confinedall farrowing accommodation is anthe most important significant factor in ensuring theirin their welfare.
- BPEX will continue to support research to refine the design of indoor farrowing accommodation that achieves the objective of further enhancing the welfare outcomes for the farrowing sow and her litter whilst enabling staff to access and care for the animal in a safe environment. BPEX will promote the uptake of new farrowing systems which can demonstrate consistent tangible improvements in welfare outcomes, relative to existing systems, which are commercially practical.
Outbreaks of tail biting can occur on indoor and outdoor pig farms including straw-based production systems. Triggers of tail biting behaviour are complex and multi-factorial and despite considerable research into the issue the precise cause of this behaviour or actions to avoid pigs exhibiting it have not been identified.
When tail biting occurs it can very quickly compromise pig welfare due to result in infections, abscesses, paralysis, pyaemia and even death. The EU Scientific Veterinary Committee report concluded that the consequent tail injury caused by biting is serious. A DEFRA research project showed tail biting could be significantly higher in groups of pigs where no reduction had taken place. Bitten tails may also attract further biting so that the injury is to the abdomen at the base of the tail after the tail itself has been bitten off. Infections may also result when the tail or adjacent areas are bitten and spinal abscesses are not uncommon.
BPEX therefore endorses interventions to reduce the risk of such outbreaks and minimising the impact where outbreaks occur through the docking parts the tip of the pigs tail.
Tail docking or clipping should only be undertaken where a veterinarian has formally advised that this intervention and technique is necessary. It should not be practised routinely but BPEX considers that in situations where alternative strategies have been tested or at particular times of year that are known to be high risk it may be appropriate to undertake tail docking or clipping as a preventative strategy rather than solely as a remedial action. It should must only be undertaken with veterinary advice and on piglets under 72 hours of age and by suitably trained staff using appropriate equipment.
BPEX has made a significant investment with the RSPCA to develop a Husbandry Advisory Tool with the primary aim of preventing outbreaks of tail biting amongst groups of pigs. The jointly funded advice tool also provides practical advice to manage pigs where an outbreak has occurred.
The provision of manipulable materials is a legal requirement and also a requirement of Assured British Pigs and Genesis assurance schemes. All pigs should have access to appropriate manipulable materials to enable them to undertake investigation and manipulation activities. The type of manipulable materials provided should be appropriate for the design of the pig accommodation and should also be accessible by pigs at all times. .
The most satisfying materials for the pig are those that are destructible/deformable. In solid-floored systems, the provision of bedding (usually straw or sawdust) will fulfil this function, but if pigs are housed on slatted floors these materials are not suitable, as they either block the slats, or fall straight through.
“Toys” are often used, but it is recommended that these are changed on a weekly basis if they are not used in conjunction with destructible and edible materials.
Teeth clipping and grinding is practised in some situations to prevent piglet facial damage that can be caused by fighting for teat position and between litter mates compromising the welfare of the affected piglets. Severe udder damage can also result as a consequence of such behaviour leading to mastitis and infection which present significant welfare concerns for the sow.
BPEX considers that in certain situations it will be appropriate to grind or clip the milk teeth of piglets at birth to avoid the risks. There is no evidence as whether welfare outcomes are substantially different between tooth reduction using clipping or grinding. All tooth reduction must only be undertaken following veterinary advice and by suitably trained staff using appropriate equipment.
Pork and Pigmeat Product Labelling
BPEX supports a policy of informed consumer choice in both retail and food service sectors. This relates to country of origin and certain production related terminology
BPEX policy is to promote the implementation of the FSA Country of Origin Labelling Guidance as follows:
- Manufacturers to provide country of origin labelling for primary products, particularly meat.
- In cases where manufacturers describe a product as “Produced in the UK” then the origin of any imported ingredients that characterise the product should be given.
- National terms should only be used where ingredients that characterise the product come from the identified country and all of the main production/manufacturing processes associated with the food occurs within that place or country
- Whether or not the food benefits from a geographical name registered under Regulation (EC) No 2081/92, origin labels should use the following criteria
- single country origin declarations should only be given where animals have been born, reared and slaughtered in the same country
- otherwise, information on each of the countries of birth, rearing and slaughter could be given
- The declaration of country of origin information for principal meat ingredients in meat products
- Where consumers may not recognise the name of the geographical area being used, there should be an additional country of origin declaration
- If a product carries the indication “Packed in X”, it should be accompanied by the statement “Produced in Y” if it is the case that it is produced in a different country from that in which it is packed .