PORKER IS HAPPY AS A PIG IN MUCK
09:00 - 30
Pigsties are in for a
radical makeover in the wake of a European ruling
which insists that pigs
have to be kept happy.
But while porkers are destined for fun times
ahead, farmers will have to
dig deep into their pockets if they decide to
scoff at the edict.
For under the new "amusement" regulation from
Brussels there is a stern
warning that failure to comply could lead to a
#1,000 fine or three
months in jail.
The ruling, which is to become
law in Britain next week, is aimed at
preventing bored pigs from chewing each
other in concrete-only sties.
Brussels bureaucrats say pigs should have
access to such delights as
straw, hay, wood, sawdust or peat. And British
suggest a pig's lot could be improved even more if balls
or other toys
are included in the "environment enrichment" scheme.
Westcountry farmers believe the move will not make a difference to
pigs, as they already live in far more "humane conditions" than
Pig farmer Andrew Freemantle, from Exeter,
explained: "Welfare standards
in British farming are very high. I very much
doubt that our farmers
will use such toys because our animals don't live in
British farming is far more humane."
vet Dr Roger Mugford, who is now one of the country's
behaviourists, explained: "Many pigs are kept in cramped
"In the past they were kept outside where they could forage
their own food.
"Because some farmers find it cheaper to keep
animals on concrete slabs
rather than buy straw or bedding, they can't forage
"Pigs are highly intelligent animals. They like to play and if
bored they start chewing each other.
"It is advisable they
get smaller meals in less clean troughs because,
as I said, they like
Dr Mugford, who is best known to animal lovers for designing
a special harness for dogs, is currently designing the rubber toys
farmers will have to buy for their pigs.
"People might think
this is a joke, but toys will make a difference to
the lives of pigs," he
Official instructions to farmers are to give pigs
enrichment" by providing "manipulable material" which the
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs says could be defined as
though there is no specific mention of toys in the EU
A spokesman said: "We mean footballs and basketballs. Farmers
need to change the balls so the pigs don't get tired with the same
These rules are based on good welfare.
"We don't want to come
across as the nanny state, but the important
thing is to see pigs happy in
their environment and they like to forage
with their noses.
years now vets have been suggesting that you put a football or
kick around into the stall to help calm restless horses.
same is true for pigs. If you put in a football or dangle
a chain they could
nose it around and play with it - it is helpful."
The Government is not
ready to recommend specific toys, however, because
it knows of no firm
manufacturing playthings for pigs.
But last night Joyce D'Silva, chief
executive of Compassion in World
Farming, said: "With this announcement Defra
is completely trivialising
animal welfare issues.
"The EU directive on
providing pigs with toys is a welfare measure
designed to ensure they can
carry out their natural rooting behaviour,
instead of living on barren,
concrete slatted floors. The intention is
to provide pigs with material like
straw or mushroom compost to allow
them to root - not basketballs as quoted
by Defra. It is quite clear
that there are people in Defra with little
knowledge of pigs, apart from
those they see in Hamleys toy