Compassion in World Farming welcomes the National Pig Association's campaign to prevent a trade in imported piglets which threatens to bring diseases such as MRSA from Belgium into the country.
The National Pig Association has launched a campaign to prevent a trade in imported piglets which threatens to bring diseases such as MRSA from Belgium into the country.
Compassion in World Farming believes that live import of piglets poses a high threat to their welfare. Animals transported on long journeys from abroad are likely to suffer from hunger, thirst, exhaustion and overcrowding. Pigs of any age do not travel well.
They suffer from motion sickness and are often fasted before the journey as a consequence.
These piglets are young. Known in the industry as weaners, they will have been separated from their mothers at the unnaturally early age of four weeks or so. To this is added the additional stress of a long journey.
The mothers of these piglets are likely to have had a poor deal too. They may have been kept in sow stalls, cages too small for them even to turn around. The male piglets may also have been castrated.
It seems likely that these piglets will not have been bred to normal British standards. Red Tractor rules don't guarantee high welfare (most British pigs are tail-docked and tooth-clipped, fully-slatted systems without straw bedding are allowed and most sows are kept in restricted farrowing crates when they are nursing their piglets), but the British Red Tractor scheme does ban castration and the sow stall. Both are common on the Continent.
Phil Brooke, Welfare Development Manager for Compassion in World Farming, said "Live imports of recently weaned piglets mean long journeys with poor welfare. We may be rearing animals which have been bred using methods which have been outlawed in Britain on welfare grounds.
"British pig farmers are right to want to ban the cruel import of piglets from the Continent to prevent the spread of diseases like MRSA, just as the Dutch farmers were right to stop importing calves from Britain to keep out TB.
Long-distance transport causes avoidable suffering, especially for such young animals. Risking the spread of disease through live imports or exports is also crazy."