After five years of research and an extensive trial on 90 pig farms, the industry plans to secure its position at the top of the welfare league by rolling out Real Welfare, a programme that checks pigs for observable signs of good health and welfare.
The British initiative has already been applauded by the European Commission's health and consumer department, in a recent meeting with Stewart Houston and Zoe Davies, of NPA. And NPA Producer Group has pledged to champion the programme, which will be funded by BPEX. Producers Group members see Real Welfare as a way of securing Britain's position as one of the world's highest-welfare pig producers.
Over the past 12 years Britain's claims to higher welfare have been based on its absolute ban on stalls, its large number of straw yards, its voluntary ban on castration, and its large outdoor breeding herd. But all pig-keepers are aware that everything changes in ten months, when the continental partial stalls ban is introduced, and again in 2018 when the continental voluntary ban on castration is introduced.
In supporting Real Welfare as a part of Red Tractor assurance in future, Producer Group members are clear that whilst some producers will welcome the opportunities it presents, others may initially oppose it as yet more regulation.
Tuesday February 14, 2012/ NPA/ United Kingdom.