Danish pig industry joins forces to improve welfare

By Ed Bedington

- Last updated on GMT

Danish pig industry joins together on welfare issues
Danish pig industry joins together on welfare issues

Related tags Better Livestock Pork

Danish pig leaders have reached an agreement with politicians and lobbyists to improve pig welfare standards following a special "welfare summit".

Industry representatives, along with welfare campaigners worked with the Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, to arrive at a formal declaration that aims to improve welfare while still allowing the Danish pig sector to continue to grow.

Those involved in the summit included Dyrenes Beskyttelse (Animal Protection) and Dyrenes Venner (Animals’ Friends) and Landbrug & Fødevarer (Danish Agriculture & Food Council - DAFC), along with representatives of Denmark’s veterinary profession, retailers and consumer groups.

Martin Merrild, DAFC chairman, said: "We are delighted that the parties have succeeded in reaching a broad agreement, which will secure even higher pig welfare standards in Denmark. At the same time, it recognises that Danish pig production should achieve the economic growth that Danish society wants. The agreement underpins our future work by finding solutions to some of the major challenges of pig production."

He said the agreement was a natural extension of the work on improved welfare that the industry, in partnership with scientists and the authorities, has been engaged in over a number of years.

The agreement covers a range of areas, including:

• Improvement in survival rates among piglets

• Encouraging uptake of free-farrowing systems for sows – at least 10% of sows by 2020

• Finding alternatives to castration of male piglets without anaesthetic by 2018 at the latest

• Reducing numbers of tail-docked piglets

• Lowering incidence of stomach ulcers in both sows and finishing pigs.

Further to this, a significant project to create new welfare-friendly housing will be carried out.

Merrild said: "It is only in the interests of our farmers that we continue to improve piglet survival rates and try to find sustainable solutions for a number of the challenges that pig production is facing. First and foremost, this will lead to higher welfare standards, but it’s also crucial that we producers are as skilled as possible at what we do, so that in the long-term we can increase exports and protect the jobs of those employed in agriculture and food production."

Erik Larsen, chairman of the Danish Pig Research Centre, added: "We’ve already come far in a number of areas. Levels of piglet mortality have fallen and we can see the effects of the work we’ve already done. Together with our partners in this agreement, we have high hopes that we can create even stronger pig production in Denmark, for which there is widespread support."  

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