The 2013 Sow Stall Ban
In 2001 the EU agreed the Pigs Directive (2008/120/EC), laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs, one of the results of which was the banning of the sow stall from 1 January 2013. The EU allowed producers an 11 year phase-out period and exemptions for the first four weeks of a sow’s pregnancy as well as the week before farrowing.
The ban on the sow stall has major welfare implications for breeding sows. Instead of spending 16 ½ weeks of her pregnancy in a stall, a sow will be kept in a group housing system for the majority of the time, allowing her to move around and interact socially with other sows.
The latest update from the European Commission states that 25 Member States are now compliant and have introduced group housing of sows. The three remaining Member States have all declared full compliance. The Commission has recently received documentation to substantiate these claims of compliance and is in the process of assessing it. (European Commission, May 2016). The Commission do not say which three countries’ claims are still being substantiated.
Compassion is working on ensuring all 28 EU nations comply with the ban in full. We use a variety of tactics from direct political lobbying, to media work, supporter e-mails and regular industry engagement. In 2013, we lobbied national governments to urge them to be compliant with the sow stall ban and 475,576 people signed our petition calling on all EU Member States to be fully compliant with the Pigs Directive.