The European Commission for health and food safety recently released its audit evaluating member state activities to prevent tail-biting and avoid routine tail-docking of pigs, revealing that 98.5% of commercial pigs born in Denmark are tail-docked.
According to the Eurogroup for Animals organisation, routine tail-docking of animals has been illegal in the EU for 24 years.
“In spite of the provisions laid down in the Directive, pigs are still routinely tail-docked in most European countries, with the notable exceptions of Sweden and Finland,” it said on the Eurogroup for Animals website.
“The European Commission is aware of the widespread violations to pig welfare legislation, and has recently decided to take a ‘soft’ approach to increase compliance with the ban on routine tail-docking and the provision of environmental enrichment.”
In response to the Eurogroup for Animals claim, the Commission said it would continue to be very active when it came to animal welfare, including pigs.
“The European Commission has recently established an Animal Welfare Platform to discuss the issue with all involved actors at EU level,” a European Commission spokesperson told GlobalMeatNews.
“While there is comprehensive and well established legislation at EU level, enforcement is first and foremost in the hands of Member States. It is primarily the Member State that has the responsibility and the tools to act at national level.”
The Commission recently presented in EU parliament the assessment of replies received from Member States on questionnaires related to tail-docking of piglets. In 2017, there were no replies from the pig industry, while there was a preliminary assessment by the Federation of Veterinarians of Europe into 21 countries.
The legal requirement of the European Commission council states that, before carrying out tail-docking, other measures are to be taken to prevent tail-biting and other vices, taking into account environment and stocking densities.
The report concluded that the authorities were currently working on the implementation of new guidelines that would expect farmers to access risk factors for tail-biting.
It stated that if these guidelines set clear criteria for inspectors to be able to assess evidence of tail and ear lesions on farm, and what constituted sufficient measures by farmers to change inadequate environmental conditions or management systems before resorting to tail-docking of pigs, then this could form the basis for a useful enforcement strategy to reduce the need for tail-docking.