Welfare report welcomed

A scientific report showing it is vital that fattening pigs are provided with straw or other similar materials has been welcomed by Britain's leading farming animal welfare charity, Compassion in World Farming.

The recent report, released by the European Food Standards Authority (EFSA) has emphasised that pigs should be provided with materials such as straw or twigs that allow them to explore, investigate and root.

Peter Stevenson, chief policy advisor at Compassion in World Farming, said: "Yet again, a scientific report has confirmed that pigs must be provided with straw or some similar material and that chains are totally inadequate as environmental enrichment.

"Fattening pigs are often kept in conditions of great deprivation. Scientific research shows that pigs spend 75 per cent of their daylight hours in activity - rooting, investigating and foraging. None of these activities are possible for factory farmed pigs who are often kept in barren, overcrowded pens with no straw.

"Since 2003 the law has required pigs to be provided with material such as straw or wood to enable them to engage in their natural investigation and manipulation activities. Regrettably, this important law has been ignored by many pig farmers both in the UK and much of the rest of Europe. Many farmers provide no straw and instead just have a metal chain."

The EFSA report stresses that chains fail to fulfil pigs' needs and that the animals must be given a material such as straw, wood shavings or branches.

Peter Stevenson concluded; "We are stepping-up our efforts to ensure that all pigs are given straw or something similar and to stop farmers getting away with just hanging a chain down into the pen."

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