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Animal Health and Welfare (25-03-2013)

Commission to issue guidelines on the welfare of pigs

In March 2013, the Commission and stakeholders met in Brussels to discuss how to improve pig welfare, in light of EU Regulation on the welfare of pigs. The debate focused primarily on pig tail-docking. Even though it is legally forbidden to carry out the practice on a routine basis, tail-docking is still performed in several Member States to avoid tail biting and wounds which confined pigs can inflict on each other out of frustration.

Providing a stress-free environment is a way to avoid biting and wounds in pigs. Pigs have a natural tendency to forage and root for food. Therefore, both the Commission and animal welfare groups encourage all pig farmers across the EU to recreate these natural conditions in stalls.

National guidelines are already available in some Member States to help farmers promote the right living conditions for their pigs. The Commission intends to produce EU guidelines on pig welfare, on basis of legal requirements, available national guidelines and scientific knowledge. Drafting should start in the coming months and the Commission expects to have a first draft ready for the next working group meeting scheduled for July, this year.

The European guidelines will be translated in all EU official languages to help all farmers comply with EU pig welfare law.