The time within which Red Tractor pig scheme members must complete the new online pig welfare training platform has been extended from three months to six months from the launch date.
Originally due to be launched last summer, the new platform, developed in collaboration with AHDB, Pig Health and Welfare Council, NPA, Pig Veterinary Society, and Red Tractor, will go live on March 1.
A new Red Tractor standard meant that anyone involved with care of pigs needed to have completed pig welfare training via this platform within three months of the 1 March launch date.
However, in recognition of the ‘acute difficulties faced by producers at this time’, the Red Tractor Pigs Board has agreed to extend this to six months, meaning training now needs to be completed by August 31.
The first available module focuses on best practice in the moving and handling of pigs – an important reputational concern for the sector and key aspect of pig welfare, Red Tractor said.
The training will be for free for the first six months following its launch, or until the AHDB registers 8,000 users, after which there will be a charge of £10 per person.
Red Tractor said its standards ‘underpin the UK pig industry’s credibility and strength, ensuring that it remains world leading’.
‘We recognise that members and their workers already have a lot of experience moving and handling pigs. However, making sure we have consistent accredited training for everyone will mean that the entire industry can demonstrate its professional and positive approach to pig welfare to customers and consumers,” it said.
Red Tractor pigs board chair Stewart Houston said: “We fully understand that the pig sector faces a difficult time, and this training is a vital part of giving shoppers the confidence to buy British pork.
“It is an important part of making sure that the standards that we all expect within the industry are being met by those caring for animals.
“Making sure we have consistent accredited training for all means our industry can demonstrate its professional and positive approach to pig welfare to customers and consumers.
“Of course, we know there are experienced and competent members of staff working with pigs. However, with ever-increasing interest and scrutiny of how food is produced, having a professional approach towards training and development is essential, not only for protecting the reputation of individual farms, but the entire sector.”