The Good Pig Award, launched in 2012, celebrates companies that use or are committing to use higher welfare pig systems for sows and meat pigs. To date, more than 1.4 million sows and meat pigs are set to benefit each year as a result of our Good Pig Award and our 2011 ‘Leadership in Pig Welfare’ award winners’ policies.
Around 1.3 billion pigs are slaughtered annually for meat worldwide. Over half these pigs are in Asia, with China alone rearing over 45% of the world’s pigs. The next largest pig producers are the European Union (slaughtering almost 240 million pigs a year), United States of America (around 112 million a year) and Brazil (over 33 million a year). In the UK around 9 million pigs are slaughtered for meat annually and there are around half a million breeding sows and gilts (young sows). Although pigs are still kept in backyards and free-range systems, particularly in many developing countries, over half the world’s pig meat is produced in intensive systems.
Minimum conditions for the protection of pigs in the EU are set out in Council Directive 2008/120/EC. From 1 January 2013 all holdings must keep sows and gilts in groups starting from 4 weeks post service to 1 week prior to farrowing, provide permanent access to manipulable material and sufficient quantity of bulky or high-fibre food as well as high-energy food. All holdings should already comply with the general provisions for rearing pigs. In particular, attention should be paid to the following:
‘Pigs should have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of material to enable proper investigation and manipulation activities, such as straw, hay, wood, sawdust, mushroom compost, peat or a mixture of such, which does not compromise the health of the animals.’
‘Neither tail-docking nor the reduction of corner teeth must be carried out routinely but only when there is evidence that injuries to the sows’ teats or to other pigs’ ears or tails have occurred. Before carrying out these procedures, other measures shall be taken to prevent tail-biting and other vices, taking into account environment and stocking densities. For this reason, inadequate environmental conditions or management systems must be changed.’