Pig welfare report warmly greeted by industry

A new welfare report on pig health has provided evidence for the high level of pig rearing standards in the UK. 

The research, conducted by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and which covered nearly 5.5 million pigs over a three year period, was welcomed by the National Pig Association (NPA).

AHDB, colloborating with vets and farmers, produced the report following demand from the industry for science-based evidence of pig welfare standards. The 5,463,348 pigs that were used to culminate information represent 40.5% of pigs present on English farms of the day of the assessment. The results were described as “hugely positive” by NPA’s chief executive Zoe Davies.

Research focused on science-based information on the welfare of the animals, as opposed to the environment which the animals were kept in. The ‘Real Welfare’ initiative showed that number of the pigs with phsyical injuries, with the exception of tail damage, have decreased. This represents an improvement in animal welfare standards in the British pig herd.

The report highlighted high levels of welfare and stockmanship in the British industry, and confirm producer’s commitment to safeguarding their animals.

“This is a truly ground-breaking report, which is the result of the pig industry’s deisre to obtain a real picture of the welfare of pigs on our farms,” said Davies.

“Overall, the results are very impressive and confirm what we already know about the pride that British pig producers take in ensuring their animals are properly looked after. The assessment highlighted very low levels of tail-damage, and while the proportion of pigs that have had their tails docked at 70%, might appear high, it is far lower than other major pig producing countries, where the level often nears 100%. Despite this positive figure, however, the industry is committed to continuing to drive further reductions in the number of pigs that have docked tails.

“The farmer-led iniative demonstrates to consumers exactly how high the welfare of our farms actually is and stems from a desire to be open and transparent with the public over how their food is produced, despite increasingly damaging and fake messaging from anti-meat eating organisations,” Davies concluded.

Key findings from the Real Welfare report:

0.7% of pigs were identified as needing hospitalisation for special treatment. No pigs required hospital attention on more than three quarters of farms.
Only 0.18% of non-hospitalised pigs were lame, with no pigs lame on more than three quarters of farms.
Just 0.14% of pigs had severe tail damage.
70% of animals had their tails docked, this is lower than most other European countries where it is permitted.
62% of pigs were able to access substrate, most of which was straw.

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