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Why you might get paid for intact tails after we leave the EU

8th Mar 2018 / By Alistair Driver

Farmers could be rewarded for producing pigs with intact and bite-free tails, under Michael Gove's plans to incentivise better welfare on farms.

pig tailsThe Defra Secretary unveiled plans to ‘offer payments to farmers delivering higher welfare outcomes’ under a post-Brexit farm policy for England at the recent NFU conference.

He explained these could include pilot schemes offering payments for delivering higher welfare outcomes or for pioneering trial approaches and technologies to improve animal welfare that are not yet industry standard, ‘paving the way for wider dissemination of those breakthroughs’.

Farming Minister George Eustice told Pig World that payments could be targeted at welfare outcomes, including rewards for avoiding tail docking and tail biting.

He said the Government had been influenced in its thinking by organisations like Compassion in World Farming and the RSPCA about ‘how you could have some kind of tiered system, with incentive payments for higher animal welfare systems’. 

Mr Eustice revealed the Government is looking at linking rewards, in part at least, to welfare outcomes, in recognition that production system alone cannot determine the welfare of an animal.

“There are systems around the world where they pay a premium for pigs that have been on a free-range system and have got tails intact,” he said. “We know that, probably, when it comes to pigs, the best indicator of high welfare is if they have not been tail-docked and their tails are not damaged.

“The same would apply in poultry where feather cover on birds can be a good indicator of the system and whether that system has been done well. Even with free-range systems, there are people who do it well and people who don’t."

For more on this story, see Pig World