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Pigs: Animal Welfare

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 13th February 2020.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many and what proportion of sows are kept in (a)(i) outdoor and (ii) indoor farrowing systems and (b) farrowing crates; and if she will make a statement.

Photo of George Eustice George Eustice The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The UK is ahead of most other pig producing countries in that an estimated 40% of breeding sows in the UK are kept outdoors and farrow freely. Of the 60% of sows kept in indoor group housed systems the majority will use farrowing crates, of which there are many different designs. I believe the aim should be for farrowing crates not to be necessary. It is important that we make progress towards a system which both safeguards the welfare of the sow as well as the piglets and also works commercially, and that we do so as quickly as possible so that crates can be consigned to history.

A new statutory welfare code for pigs was laid in Parliament on 9 September 2019 and includes guidance on farrowing to protect the welfare of both sows and piglets. The code will come into force shortly.

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