ARCHIVE: Livestock: Pigs - Health and welfare
Health and welfare: Pigs
Maintaining high standards for animal health and welfare on the farm is essential for efficient production, establishing consumer confidence and managing risk of disease to both humans and animals.
The Farm Animal Welfare Council, which reviews farm animal welfare and advises government on the legislative or other requirements, recommends the following Five Freedoms for farm livestock:
- freedom from hunger and thirst
- freedom from discomfort
- freedom from pain, injury or disease
- freedom to express normal behaviour
- freedom from fear and distress
While these freedoms provide general guidelines to avoid suffering and other harms, there are areas where specific guidance is available:
The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 and equivalents in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales detail standards under which you must keep farm animals.
Schedule Six of The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2007 has additional rules for pigs, covering husbandry requirements on areas such as inspections, tethering, accommodation, lighting, hygiene, lying areas, flooring, food and drink.
The regulations require that anyone attending animals must be familiar with and have access to appropriate welfare codes(PDF). The codes are specific to each species of animal and cover both indoor and outdoor systems. The codes aim to establish the highest standards of husbandry covering general stockmanship, health, feeding, breeding, accommodation and management.
Animal Health carries out welfare inspections which may be planned visits, spot checks or following up allegations of poor welfare. Notice can be served to enforce regulations and, where necessary, Defra can initiate prosecutions for welfare offences.
Further information is available on the on-farm welfarepages.
Welfare in transport
The Welfare of Animals (Transport) (England) Order 2006 implements Council Regulation (EC) No 1/2005 on the protection of animals during transport and related operations. This legislation covers the rules on transporting livestock, including requirements on vehicles, water, feed, rest, transporter competence and documentation.
Under the EC Regulation, those transporting pigs as part of a business or trade need the following:
- a transporter authorisation
- a certificate of competence
- vehicles to be approved (if undertaking journeys of over eight hours)
- journeys to be logged (either via an ATC or journey log)
We have produced a short guide for the transport of pigs which highlights the EC Regulation’s main requirements and the key pig welfare issues that need to be considered. These include ensuring that:
- they are not caused injury or unnecessary suffering
- they are fit to travel
- those transporting and handling pigs are trained and competent
- rules on journey times, resting, watering and feeding are observed
Full details on the EC Regulation can be seen on the main welfare during transport pages.
Welfare in markets
Achieving a high standard of welfare at market requires:
- Well-maintained, welfare-friendly equipment
- Sympathetic handling by competent people
Defra’s welfare of animals in livestock marketspages cover general requirements of maintaining welfare standards at markets and includes a number of specific points for handling pigs:
- you can use flat boards or flat slap sticks to usher pigs forward
- electric goads should only be used as a last resort, and only on the hind quarters of adult pigs
- watch for signs of heat stress as pigs can overheat very easily. Carry out emergency cooling with hoses or a sprinkler system
- keep adult boars apart using solid-sided pens with adequate ventilation
Welfare at slaughter
There are specific rules covering the handling, stunning, and slaughter or killing of animals. In particular;
- slaughtermen must hold a Registered Licence
- in every slaughterhouse a competent person must have authority to safeguard welfare
- only permitted methods may be used to stun or kill animals
Further advice on maintaining welfare standards at slaughter.
The key requirements for maintaining high health standards in pigs are disease control and surveillance.
Regular testing programmes are in place for Brucella suis and Aujeszky’s disease.
Aujeszky’s disease is one of a number of notifiable diseases which may affect pigs. Other notifiable diseases include Classical Swine Fever, Foot and Mouth disease, Swine Vesicular Disease and African Swine Fever.
For further details on these and other diseases see the A-Z disease index.
- Detailed information on thewelfare of pigs.
- The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000
- The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2003
- Welfare of pigs – code of recommendations
- Animal Health
Page last modified:
21 December 2009
Page published: 1 July 2006