The newly updated code, unveiled by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra), includes improved practices on how to prevent tail biting, avoiding the need to routinely dock pigs’ tails; detailed advice to pig producers on biosecurity, contingency planning, and antibiotic use; guidance on how to assess the health and welfare of pigs and advice on farrowing, to protect the welfare of both sows and piglets.
The pig welfare code applies to England only, although devolved administrations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) are expected to align their new codes as closely as possible to Defra’s.
Enforcement bodies, including Animal and Plant Health Agency inspectors and local authorities, will also use the code when investigating allegations of poor welfare.
This is the third code to be updated, following the new meat-chicken and laying-hen codes which came into force in March and August 2018 respectively.
Animal Welfare Minister Zac Goldsmith said: “As someone who has kept pigs throughout my life I am proud that the UK leads the way on improving animal welfare – whether that be the ban on keeping sows in close confinement stalls or our latest legislation to increase custodial sentences for animal cruelty.
“This new code sets out the highest standards on how to best keep pigs using the latest scientific and veterinary advice to safeguard and enhance welfare standards. I urge all farmers and those in industry to take full heed of it.
“Our country’s high animal welfare standards are something to be proud of and we will continuously work to ensure they are maintained and improved.”