Thank you for contacting me about the treatment of pigs and the Pig Husbandry (Farrowing) Bill.
I completely share your concern about the welfare of pigs and I’m looking forward to hearing what my colleague, Sir David Amess MP, has to say on this subject when he brings forward his Bill later this month.
It is my understanding that the Government is currently examining the evidence around the use of cages for all farm animals and is considering their options very seriously. They have also committed to continuing to focus on achieving world-leading farm animal welfare standards through both regulatory requirements and statutory codes.
Regarding pigs more specifically, Ministers have been clear that it is their ambition for farrowing crates to no longer be used for sows. Indeed, the new pig welfare code clearly states that “the aim is for farrowing crates to no longer be necessary and for any new system to protect the welfare of the sow, as well as her piglets.”
It is important that we make progress towards a system that both works commercially and, most importantly, safeguards the welfare of the sow and her piglets, and that we do so as quickly as possible. The UK is already ahead of most pig producing countries in terms of non-confinement farrowing, with around 40 per cent of our pigs housed outside and not farrowed with crates. But I personally think that we can and should go much further and much faster.
I know that this Government has set itself a challenging agenda of animal welfare issues to address and I am, therefore, pleased that they are taking action on many fronts to improve the health and wellbeing of farm animals. For example, the Government has committed to end excessively long journeys for live animal exports, which was something I lobbied very strongly for over several years. We were not allowed by the EU to ban live animal exports whist we remained EU members, so this a major and welcome step forward for animal welfare in the UK.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me about this important matter.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking