RSPCA urges more producers to adopt “unconfined” farrowing

The RSPCA has outlined its “free farrowing” hopes for the future of British pig farming with the aim of encouraging more commercial pig breeders to move towards unconfined farrowing systems.

The society’s updated pig sector standards are contained within its Science Group Review of 2015, a 30-page report which covers all aspects of domestic and farm animal care.

The sector on pig farming, focuses exclusively on farrowing issues.

“The RSPCA welfare standards for pigs have prohibited the use of farrowing crates by any member of the RSPCA Assured scheme, Freedom Food, since the end of 2013,” it is stated, adding that new standards, setting out more detailed requirements for indoor ‘free farrowing’ were issued in December 2015.

These cover areas such as space, flooring and bedding/enrichment materials; declaring a new minimum size of bedded lying/nest area of 2.8m² and a new minimum total pen size of 5m².

According to RSPCA, these requirements are based on “scientific research into the needs of the sow and her piglets”.

“In addition to setting future requirements for Freedom Food scheme members,” added RSPCA, “we hope that these and other associated evidence-based additions to our indoor ‘free farrowing’ standards will help support and encourage more commercial pig breeders to move towards unconfined farrowing systems that meet the needs of both piglets and sows.”

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