New actions to improve pig welfare welcomed by vets

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) and the Pig Veterinary Society (PVS) have responded to several updates to the Code of Practice to the Welfare of Pigs, announced this week to further improve pig welfare standards in England

Actions outlined in the amended draft and consultation outcome summary from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) include the recommendation that pig owners or keepers should draw up and implement a written pig health and welfare plan in collaboration with their veterinary surgeon.

The draft code of practice also said that there should be veterinary involvement in routine animal-based measures to identify welfare and strategies to manage and prevent tail biting.

In its joint response, BVA and PVS included recommendations for health and welfare planning, disease control and biosecurity, transport and accommodation.

Simon Doherty, the BVA’s president, said:“We are delighted to see that a number of our recommendations have been considered and actioned within this updated Code of Practice.

“Vets are well placed to advise on health and welfare planning for pigs and welcome further involvement and conversation with keepers and owners. Any review or changes should be made comprehensively and where possible, consider all unintended consequences. Ultimately, the health and welfare of the pigs should be at the heart of any decision.”

PVS president, Richard Pearson added: ‘’PVS welcomes publication of these proposals which have involved extensive consultation and been a long time coming. Good pig health and welfare is inextricably linked to good stockman ship and having a really strong vet-farmer relationship is crucial.

“We support the overall drive to improve pig welfare across the diverse range of farming systems employed in this country. We look forward to further discussion, and agreement, in terms of implementation of these Codes so that farmers and their veterinary advisers know exactly where they stand.

“It must also be stated that these commitments to further improve national welfare standards must not be undermined by increased imports of cheaper food produced to lower welfare standards from overseas.’’

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