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FAWC Recommends New Pig Housing Systems

by 5m Editor
7 April 2011, at 11:09pm

UK - The Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) launched its Opinion on mutilations and environmental enrichment in piglets and growing pigs last month.

The FAWC Opinion advises Government about the impact on young pigs' welfare of the various mutilations that they may be subject to during their lives. The procedures include tail docking, tooth clipping, identification and castration.

The Opinion assesses the need for mutilations in terms of the welfare costs and benefits and the extent to which management or husbandry practices, including environmental enrichment, might reduce the need for mutilations. Where mutilations are necessary, the Opinion addresses how procedures can be refined, including the possibility of providing pain relief.

Professor Wathes, Chairman of FAWC, said: "Mutilations involve handling stress, acute pain and the possibility of chronic pain. Opportunities to improve welfare arise from either avoiding the need to carry out the mutilation or refining the procedure to reduce stress and pain. Most mutilations are carried out to prevent undesirable consequences of behaviours that may be manifested later. An ethical balance has to be struck between the harms associated with the mutilation and the risk and severity of subsequent events that the mutilation may alleviate."

He continued: "Environmental enrichment plays a role in facilitating good welfare and is one of the management procedures that, by reducing injurious behaviour, might make the use of some mutilations less necessary."

Professor Wathes concluded: "The pig industry, Government and other stakeholders should be working together towards systems where pig behaviour is such that some or all mutilations become unnecessary. Where mutilations are still necessary then every effort should be made to refine procedures to minimise pain and distress, for example by provision of pain relief."

The FAWC closed down on 31 March 2011. From 1 April 2011, the new Farm Animal Welfare Committee will provide independent, authoritative, impartial and timely advice, to Defra and the Devolved Administrations in Scotland and Wales on farm animal welfare issues.

Further Reading

- You can view the full FAWC report by clicking here.