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Denmark: not reduction in the total percentage of tail-docked pigs

The objective of the audit was to evaluate the suitability and effectiveness of the measures in place to prevent tail-biting and to avoid routine tail-docking of pigs.

Friday 13 April 2018 (6 months 2 days ago)
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This report concludes that actions taken by the Danish authorities have not yet resulted in better compliance with the provisions of the Pig Directive with regard to the avoidance of routine taildocking in pigs.

A new government animal welfare label has led to a large increase in pigs with intact tails where their meat is destined for the Danish market. However, due to the large percentage of exported meat and live animals, this has not yet resulted in a significant reduction in the total percentage of tail-docked pigs in Denmark

Where the competent authority has provided clear compliance criteria together with focused actions, this has brought about improvements in animal welfare such as with enrichment materials and care of sick and injured pigs. However, compliance criteria for the enforcement of other legal requirements related to tail-biting risk factors are less clear or lacking and therefore enforcement of these requirements is less consistent.

The authorities are currently working on the implementation of new guidelines that will expect farmers to assess risk factors for tail-biting. If these guidelines set clear criteria for inspectors to be able to assess evidence of tail and ear lesions on farm and what constitutes sufficient measures by farmers to change inadequate environmental conditions or management systems before resorting to tail-docking of pigs, they could form the basis for a useful enforcement strategy to reduce the need for tail-docking.

The large number of 30 kg weaner pigs exported to other Member States that will only buy docked pigs presents a challenge for the competent authority to change tail-docking practices in sow herds supplying this trade. However, this cannot be an explanation for continuing tail-docking for pigs which go to herds with slaughter pigs in Denmark which supply pigs to Danish slaughterhouses. These herds with slaughter pigs continue to have a high level of non-compliance indicating that the competent authority has not taken sufficient action to ensure welfare standards for that part of pig production which is completely under their control. Progress with regard to the avoidance of routine tail-docking in pigs is possible where pigs are born, grown and finished in Denmark as many Danish pig facilities would allow rearing of pigs with intact tails, but with a higher cost as it means fewer pigs per pen and more or another type of enrichment material.

As almost half of the Danish weaner pigs are exported to other Member States, there is a need to ensure receivers take actions in parallel otherwise this will continue to be a reason for Denmark to not stop tail-docking.

April 2018/ DG Santé/ European Union.
http://ec.europa.eu/food/

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