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Europe's proposed 62-mile limit on transporting young pigs will hit British three-site producers

by 5m Editor
18 August 2003, at 12:00am

UK - Europe's proposed new rules on transporting of pigs will impact on British outdoor producers. In particular they could spell significant extra cost for three-site operators.

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THE VOICE OF THE UK PIG INDUSTRY

NPA is active on members' behalf in Brussels & White-hall, and with pro-cessors, supermarkets & caterers – fighting for the growth and pros-perity of the UK pig industry.

NPA has signalled its concern to Defra in an early briefing by policy manager Ann Petersson. More detailed discussions will follow in due course.

She says the proposed restriction on travel of more than 100km (62 miles) for pigs less than four weeks old will impose a 'significant constraint and cost burden' on the UK pig industry, where many pig producers have split their operations into three-site production for better health control and as an insurance against disease.

'A fundamental criterion in the choice of location for outdoor producers is land type,' she says. 'As 30 percent of UK pig production is currently housed outdoors, locations can be further than 100km just to achieve suitable land, health and welfare conditions for pig production.'

She explains in a letter to Defra that to achieve improved health status, piglets of an average of 26-28 days are moved to grower farms, which are sometimes 200km (124 miles), or three hours, distant.

'This practice is not unique to the UK, as our feedback indicates that piglets less than four weeks travel distances of 250km in France, and similarly Germany.'

However, she says, as outdoor production is not as significant in member states as it is in the UK, the proposed new rule may pose greater potential problems for UK producers.

It is an unnecessary restraint and cost, and contradicts EU pig welfare legislation introduced this year, which allows weaning at 21 days providing the piglets are moved into 'specialised buildings… which are separated from housing where sows are kept in order to minimise the transmission of diseases to the piglet.'

NPA is asking Defra to challenge the EC on the proposed 100km rule for pigs under 28 days. 'The provisions referring to young pigs must be aligned with Community welfare legislation, and the provisions covering fitness for transport should be amended to allow species-specific conditions, as the need for maternal care after weaning varies accordingly,' says Ann Petersson.

Dealing with other problems surrounding the proposed new transport restrictions, she stresses the rules are supposed to deal with animal welfare legislation and should not be confused with social legislation (drivers' hours).

'Any decision in terms of time limits must be based on scientific evidence related to animal welfare, not social legislation,' she says, pointing out there is no flexibility built into new travel times, as in the Drivers Hours legislation, or any allowance for two drivers. 'The Commission must address this issue to avoid an unwarranted and significant cost impact on animal transport.'

(The draft proposal brings long distance journeys in line with the EU Drivers Hours Regulations indicating a long distance journey as having a maximum travel time of nine hours a day, but this must include a 45 minutes break every four to five hours, and a rest period of 11 hours.)

Other concerns highlighted by NPA include:

  • Registered horses continue to be exempt from certain long distance legislative provisions. British breeding companies maintain this exemption should be extended to their stock, which receives similar "club class" treatment in transit.

  • The proposed space allowances would have a significant cost impact. For example, the new proposal, if agreed, would mean that for a transport of 110kg pigs on a long distance journey, there would have to be a reduction in the number of pigs carried from 120 to 112 on a doubledeck lorry and trailer. This would add approximately a cost of 32 per breeding pig, or 3224 per load and loss of margin.


Source: National Pig Association - 18th August 2003

5m Editor