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Management of Units

71. Paragraphs 33-39 deal with the importance we attach to good stockmanship. The following paragraphs cover in more depth the action which should be taken by the stockman to protect the welfare of the pigs.

72. Daily inspection of the pigs must be undertaken, this is a requirement of the Welfare of Livestock Regulations 1994. As part of the inspection the stockman should look for signs of injury or illness, ensure that food and water are freely available and make any necessary adjustments in the event of a problem. We believe an inspection once a day is the absolute minimum and that inspection of farrowing sows and piglets should be carried out at least twice each day. The stockman should look inside every farrowing hut during his or her rounds.

73. Where possible, pigs should be kept in stable groups to reduce the amount of mixing. If systems incorporating dynamic groups for dry sows are used, a high degree of management is required at mixing. If excessive aggression occurs, advice should be sought to reduce the problem or alternative systems employed. Pigs should always be handled quietly and firmly, to avoid unnecessary pain or distress. A good stockman will have a beneficial effect on the temperament of the herd.

74. We endorse the provision in the existing Welfare Code for pigs that sows and gilts should be managed so as to be in suitable body condition at the time of farrowing. Pigs on outdoor units seldom experience difficulties at farrowing but where problems occur it is essential that reaction is swift and effective. Moving the sow into facilities which permit assistance should be considered and, if necessary, veterinary help sought.

75. We have heard evidence that sows which farrow in individual paddocks have improved welfare and slightly improved performance. Since this complies with the sow's natural tendency to seek isolation at farrowing, we urge producers to offer sows individual farrowing paddocks wherever possible.