Pig and hen welfare guidance consultations launched

The government has launched consultations to potentially change guidance for pig- and poultry-keepers and help update welfare codes. 

Welfare codes for pigs, laying hens, and meat chickens are being updated to reflect the very latest advice from vets and animal husbandry developments, as part of a programme of reforms to safeguard and enhance the welfare of animals.

“We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and are going further, including raising maximum sentences for animal cruelty to five years and introducing mandatory CCTV in abattoirs,” said Minister for Animal Welfare Lord Gardiner.

“We are carefully consulting with industry experts, and using the most recent scientific and veterinary advice to ensure this clear guidance provides the best advice to owners and keepers to help ensure the high welfare standards of their animals.”

Under the proposals, animal keepers will be expected to provide a more “enriched environment” for all pigs, laying hens, and meat chickens to “enable them to display more of their natural behaviours such as foraging, helping to ensure more fulfilled and healthier animals”.

The proposed user-friendly codes also provide detailed guidance to animal keepers on how to assess the welfare of their animals, as well as on contingency planning to help ensure the welfare of their animals during any emergencies.

Enforcement bodies, including the Animal and Plant Health Agency inspectors and local authorities, will use the codes when investigating allegations of poor welfare, to see whether animal welfare standards are being met.

Earlier this year, the UK Government updated its draft code for the welfare of broiler chickens following a consultation on the issue.  If there are no objections from parliament, it will come into force in March 2018.

A six-week consultation on guidance for pigs and laying hens will run until 9 March. Views from industry and stakeholders can be submitted here. The new guidance is expected to be available later this year.

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