Free farrowing report recommends progress review in five years

Progress concerning the adoption of free farrowing systems should be reviewed in five years, at which point the possibility of legislation to phase out farrowing crates should then be considered, says the Government’s Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC).

This is one of a series of recommendations contained in a newly published 24-page FAWC report headed “Opinion on Free Farrowing Systems”.

In addition to stating that farmers, the pig industry as a whole and other stakeholders, such as retailers, should consider the welfare of both sows and piglets, and be aware that they are not necessarily benefitted by the same things, the report includes the following two key recommendations:

  • FAWC recommends continued development of commercial free farrowing systems with the aim of replacing farrowing crates, with robust information from these systems available to interested stakeholders.
  • Adoption of free farrowing systems should be reviewed in 5 years, and compared to that in other countries. If judged necessary for full adoption, the possibility of legislation to phase out farrowing crates should then be considered. For commercial reasons this may require action at EU level.

The report also deals with the potential need for consumers to pay more for pork from free farrowing systems; for sow genetics to reflect optimal performance requirements in commercial free farrowing accommodation; for increased direct supervision of farrowing and the post-farrowing period and for attention to be given towards training for those operating all farrowing systems.

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