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Help for deprived pigs?

News Section Icon Published 23/11/2007

New report shows chains are not enough for pigs

A new scientific report shows pigs should be provided with straw for stimulation although the UK government continue to advise farmers that a chain is good enough.

Many fattening pigs are kept in conditions of great deprivation. Scientific research shows that pigs spend 75 per cent of their daylight hours in activity - rooting, investigating and foraging. None of these activities are possible for factory farmed pigs who are often kept in barren, overcrowded pens with no straw.

Since 2003 the law has required pigs to be provided with straw, wood or some similar material to enable them to engage in their natural investigation and manipulation activities. Regrettably, this important law has been ignored by many pig farmers both in the UK and much of the rest of Europe.

Now, however, a scientific report by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has emphasised that it is crucial for pigs to be provided with materials such as straw or twigs that allow them to explore, investigate and root (scientists call these 'manipulable' or 'destructible' materials).

Many farmers provide no straw and instead just have a metal chain dangling down in the middle of the pen. The EFSA report stresses that chains fail to fulfil pigs' needs and that the animals must be given a material such as straw, wood shavings or branches.

The report gives greater leverage to Compassion in World Farming's campaign to alleviate pig suffering and boredom. Peter Stevenson, Chief Policy Advisor said:

"We will step-up our efforts to ensure that all pigs are given straw or something similar and to stop farmers getting away with just hanging a chain down into the pen."

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