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Help #EndPigPain

News Section Icon Published 12/05/2017

pig in a crowded pen

We are proud to support Eurogroup for Animals’ new campaign to #EndPigPain.

Highlighting the often illegal and unnecessarily painful procedures that pigs across the EU routinely endure, the campaign aims to bring an end to these cruel practices.

Violations of existing law

The routine tail docking and tooth clipping of piglets has been illegal in the EU for more than 20 years. Despite this, these procedures are frequently carried out without pain relief in most EU member states.

An estimated 2.8 billion pigs have had their tails docked since the EU ban came into force in 2003, and according to a recent report by AHDB Pork, 70% of pigs in the UK are still tail-docked. Routine tooth clipping of piglets also remains widespread. The industry is clearly flouting the law by continuing to perform these practices.

Moving away from cruel practices

piglets being castrated by a man

In barren and overcrowded environments, piglets can resort to tail-biting and other frustration behaviours, caused by stress and boredom. However, in higher welfare, well-managed systems with adequate space and enrichment, tail docking and tooth clipping are not required.

The main justification for castrating piglets is to prevent ‘boar taint’ - a particular smell or taste in pork caused by the build-up of natural substances in the fat of male pigs once they are sexually mature.

Whilst not commonly practiced in the UK, every year millions of piglets in the EU are painfully castrated without (or without adequate) anaesthesia. Castration is not necessary. Pigs can be bred to produce less boar taint. Tainted meat can also be separated to make processed pork products. In many countries, pigs are slaughtered younger so there is no need to castrate. Pigs can also be given a vaccine which prevents boar taint. 

Emma Slawinski, our Director of Campaigns, said: “We are very proud to be supporting Eurogroup for Animals in their new campaign to #EndPigPain. The number of pigs suffering despite the legislation that is in place is completely unacceptable.

“The petition will affirm just how strong the voice calling for an end to this cruelty really is, and demand that current laws are fully enforced.”

Reineke Hameleers, Director of Eurogroup for Animals, said: “Painful husbandry procedures such as castration and tail docking are inherent in today’s pig farming, but completely unnecessary.

“Technically and economically feasible alternatives to eventually lead to pain-free pig farming already exist and must now be mainstreamed.”

Time to #EndPigPain

The campaign is calling on national agricultural ministers to stop the routine pain caused to pigs reared for meat in the EU and to ensure proper implementation of the EU Pigs Directive. It will also urge citizens to ask their ministers to prepare national roadmaps to phase out surgical piglet castration, with the aim to obtain an EU-wide ban by 2024.

You can make your voice heard to improve the lives of millions of pigs and sign the petition to #EndPigPain.


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