In this file:
· Pig crates row as farmers say government plans to ban them could see piglets crushed
· Abrupt crate ban would decimate pig industry
Pig crates row as farmers say government plans to ban them could see piglets crushed
Farrowing crates are controversial and The Telegraph understands Defra ministers wish to ban them
By Helena Horton, The Telegraph (UK)
22 March 2020
The government is embroiled in a row with farmers over the use of farrowing crates, as pig keepers say plans to ban them will see piglets crushed.
These cages restrict the movement of the mother, so she does not roll over and crush the piglets feeding from her.
However, their use is controversial and banned in countries including Norway and Sweden, and The Telegraph understands the government is drawing up plans to ban them.
Animal Welfare Minister Lord Goldsmith said: “Pigs are intelligent, sensitive animals and although there are already strict laws in place to protect their welfare, we can and should go further. As we leave the EU we have the opportunity to build on our world-leading welfare standards...
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Abrupt crate ban would decimate pig industry
By Claire Taylor, The Scottish Farmer
Mar 23, 2020
A BAN on all cages for farm animals is the subject of a new public petition which has been launched by animal rights charity OneKind this week.
Phasing out of farrowing crates in the pig industry is already being looked at in England, with Scotland soon to announce its own pig code, which is likely to follow a similar direction of travel.
However, the notion of an immediate ban has sparked concerns from pig producers, many of whom can clearly remember the impact of the UK ban on stalls and tethers in 1999 and how this led to a ‘decimation of the UK pig industry’.
Chief executive of Scottish Pig Producers,Andy McGowan,was open to the idea of a future ban on farrowing crates but stressed that this would only work if a viable alternative was made available and support was given to encourage producers to change their practices:
“Farrowing crates have been a necessary tool used for many years that balances the temporary restriction on welfare of the sow, with an undoubted reduction in piglet mortality.
“As a sector, we feel that if someone can come up with alternative technologies that allow us to deliver the minimum piglet mortality without constraining the sow then there will be no arguments from the commercial pig industry. There are some promising systems beginning to appear in the market.”
However, he made the point that it would be ‘naïve’ to believe that UK consumers would pay more for these changes and referenced the previous ban which was made on stalls and tethers in the late 90’s which didn’t have the desired impact.
“We banned stalls and tethers 13 years before the rest of the EU, but what happened was our pig industry halved in size because EU labelling laws did not allow us to communicate this to consumers,” said Mr McGowan.
“This effectively led to us exporting our problems elsewhere as imports flooded in at much lower prices and standards, then suddenly half of the UK pig industry disappeared. You can’t expect consumers to make informed choices unless you can put this information on the label.”
Currently half of the pigs in Scotland are not born in farrow crates as they are outdoor bred, but Mr McGowan explained why forcing all producers to follow suit wouldn’t be a viable option: