Real Welfare suspends environmental enrichment assessments

The environmental enrichment element of the Real Welfare Assessment pig scheme is to be suspended until the end of February 2014.

The decision was taken taken by the Red Tractor Technical Advisory Committee yesterday (September 19) and comes into immediate effect.

The committee took the decision while reviewing recommendations made by the Real Welfare Protocol Review Group. Set up earlier this month and consisting of producers, vets and members of the pig industry, The group’s remit is to review BPEX’s Real Welfare Protocol and come up with recommendations to make the process more practical.

It’s understood that vets had questioned the value of the environmental enrichment assessments, which will now be reviewed further during the next five months.

Other decisions taken by the advisory committee included an agreement that while measuring severe cases of both body lesions and tail marks was proving to be both practical and useful, measuring minor marks was proving very troublesome and time consuming. The review group has been tasked with considering whether the value of this extra information is worth the trouble and cost of measuring it, although vets have to continue record it for the time being.

Also under review is the sampling procedure for Real Welfare Assessments. BPEX and the review group will examine the sampling procedure by the end of Feb 2014 to ensure it’s practical.

The Real Welfare Protocol Review Group and the Real Welfare Steering Group, the group that worked on the implementation of Real Welfare into the Red Tractor scheme, will be meeting again in October to continue their review work.

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