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New Pig Welfare Code to come into force on March 1

20th Feb 2020 / By Rebecca Veale

Welfare CodeThe new Code of Practice for the Welfare of Pigs in England will come into force on March 1. 

NPA and the Pig Veterinary Society (PVS) are meeting with Defra soon to discuss how they interpret the Code and the transition periods for producers to make any necessary changes in order to meet the Code's requirements, which are yet to be agreed.

Read the new code

The new Code was developed in consultation with the NPA and other industry bodies, as well as welfare NGO’s, before it was signed off by the Farm Animal Welfare Committee.

The Code is the Governments interpretation of the law, therefore producers must comply with it – we urge all producers to download, read and understand the Code. We will be discussing the requirements at the Spring Regionals, so make sure you come along (dates in the events section)!

What is the Code?

The Code is Defra’s interpretation of existing welfare legislation and is designed help keepers to maintain the standards required to comply with the relevant legislation. It sets out enhanced guidance in a number of areas, including:

  • Improved practices on how to prevent tail biting, with a focus on avoiding the need to dock pigs’ tails.
  • Detailed guidance on enrichment attributes and acceptable combinations that should be used.
  • Greater emphasis on record keeping, especially related to tail biting incidence, prevention measures and proactive action taken including a requirement to record light levels and monitor environmental gasses.
  • Defra’s intention to move towards a future where farrowing crates are no longer needed and advice on free farrowing pens.
  • Greater focus on correct handling procedures for pigs.

You can read more about what the Code means for producers here

The welfare of farmed animals is protected by law and is further supported by statutory species-specific welfare codes.

The new code will also be used by enforcement bodies, including Animal and Plant Health Agency inspectors and local authorities, when investigating allegations of poor welfare to look at whether animal welfare standards are being met.

Although the code is for guidance purposes, it specifically states that not complying with the legislation quoted in the boxes within the Code is an offence and that in cases that go to court for prosecution, whether someone has met the requirements of the Code, or not, can be used to  help establish or disprove a person’s liability. 

The pig welfare code applies to England only, although devolved administrations will aim to align their new codes as closely as possible to Defra’s.

This is the third code to be updated, following the new meat-chicken and laying-hen codes which came into force in March and August 2018 respectively.

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