Reminder on environmental enrichment for pigs

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PIG producers were reminded by DARD in September about the remaining requirements in the EU Pig Welfare Directive which applies to all pig units here from 1 January 2013.

One of the key requirements of the Directive is to provide all pigs, including sows, gilts and boars with environmental enrichment. All pigs must have permanent access to enrichment enabling them to carry out proper investigation and manipulation activities.

Many factors must be considered when providing environmental enrichment to pigs.

Providing enrichment that is destructible, edible, chewable and clean may be of more benefit to the pigs. Pigs can become bored with indestructible objects and quickly lose interest in dung-covered objects.

Straw is not a practical option for fully-slatted systems; therefore producers must provide other enrichment toys or materials, such as hay, wood, sawdust, mushroom compost, peat or a mixture of these. Providing enrichment material which facilitates manipulation and investigation, either through the type of material used or through the way it is presented may help reduce the incidence of tail biting and other vices.

The welfare standards set out in the Pig Welfare Directive form part of cross compliance. Failure to comply with these standards could therefore result in a reduction in Direct Agricultural Support Payment (including Single Farm Payment) and/or legal action being taken.

If you have any queries relating to compliance please contact your local DARD Direct Office, CAFRE Pig Technologist or Assurance Scheme body.