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Defra publishes draft pig Welfare Code

29th Jan 2018 / By Alistair Driver

Defra has published a new draft Animal Welfare Code for pigs, which will now be the subject of a six-week consultation.

pigletsThe draft 'Code of Practice for the Welfare of Pigs', published alongside similar documents for laying hens and meat chickens, sets out strengthened statutory guidance for pig keepers on how to meet the needs of their animals and enhance their welfare.

The statutory codes follow the controversial decision by Defra in April 2016 to abandon plans for industry-led voluntary welfare codes to replace the outdated current codes. This followed a backlash from animal welfare campaigners. 

The new draft code and the consultation document can be viewed here

Under the proposals, animal keepers will be expected to provide a more enriched environment for all pigs and poultry to enable them to display more of their natural behaviours.

The '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.

The codes will 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.

The new guidance is expected to be available later this year, following the six-week consultation, which begins today (January 29).

Latest advice

Animal Welfare Minister Lord Gardiner said the welfare codes for were 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.

He said: "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.

"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."

NPA chief executive Zoe Davies said: "We welcome the update to the codes, which is long overdue. We will look in detail at the draft document and look forward to responding to the consultation."