Saving the bacon: will British pig farmers ​survive a ban on cages?

An end to UK pig confinement is in sight, but producers fear they will be left carrying the cost of high-welfare options in the face of cheap imports


Tom Levitt, The Guardian (UK)

21 Jul 2021


After more than a decade trialling the removal of pig cages on her Yorkshire farm, Vicky Scott has lost confidence in being able to make it permanent.


Doing so would require building a new shed to create enough space to freely house all her pigs, she says. “No one will pay for this. They [the retailers] want products as cheap as chips and consumers want cheap meat.”


Yet, the UK and EU are expected to ban all forms of confinement in pig rearing.


In June, the European Commission confirmed it would table a proposal to phase out the use of farrowing crates, which are used to confine sows before and after birth, by the end of 2023. The UK – and Boris Johnson himself – have made clear that the long-term aim is to do the same.


Crates are used to confine expectant sows until their piglets are weaned after four weeks. They restrict the sows’ movement, reducing the risk of crushing the piglets.


However, as well as restricting sows’ natural behaviour and movement, including nest-building and interacting with her piglets, there is also evidence the crates increase the risk of stillbirth.


Piglets are vulnerable to being crushed by sows...


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