Thursday, March 6, 2014

New pig code finalized

 The new national code for the hog industry is now official.

It features a ban on sow gestation crates for any new barns or renovations to existing barns.

It also contains tougher standards for castration, tail docking and ear-notching for animal identification.

It has been hailed in news releases from hog marketing boards and Humane Society International.

The chapter on housing says “systems and their components must be designed, constructed and regularly inspected and maintained in a manner that reduces the potential for injury, provides suitable temperatures, fresh air, and clean conditions, and allows for inspection of all pigs.

“Emergency plans must be developed to ensure that alternative means of temperature regulation, ventilation, feeding, and watering of pigs are available in the event of a power failure, mechanical breakdown, or other emergency situation.

“Pigs must not be tethered as part of their normal housing system.

Due to the inherent aggressive nature of sows, a combination of group housing with a short period of stall housing can assist in minimizing injuries, improving body condition, and can facilitate confirming pregnancy after breeding.”

It sets minimum standards for stalls that must be “appropriate to the size of the individual animal” and “conventional gestation stalls (58-60cm [22.8-23.6in]) may not be wide enough for larger sows to lie laterally, especially towards the end of the gestation period.”

As of this July 1, all new or rebuilt hog barns must house “mafgex gilts and sows” in groups.

“Individual stalls may be used for up to 28 days after the date of last breeding and an additional period of up to seven days is
permitted to manage grouping.

“Time in stalls can only be extended to protect the welfare of
individual sows on the advice of a competent stockperson.”

Farrowing crate standards say they must be long enough to “allow the sow enough room to move forward and backward, and to lie down unhindered by a raised trough or rear gate.

“When standing in a normal position in a farrowing crate, the sow must not touch both sides of the crate (not including anti-crush rails) simultaneously, and her back must not touch any bars along the top.

“Sows must not be kept in farrowing crates for more than six weeks in any one reproductive cycle except in exceptional circumstances (e.g. when a sow is required to foster a second litter).”

The code includes a number of new standards to reduce pain.

“Surgical procedures (e.g. hernia repair, cryptorchidectomy) other than elective husbandry procedures must be performed in consultation with a veterinarian and using appropriate anesthesia and analgesia.

“Major surgical procedures (e.g. caesarian section) must only be performed by a licensed veterinarian.

“Castration performed after 10 days of age must be done with anesthetic and analgesic to help control pain.

“As of July 1, 2016, castration performed at any age must be done with analgesics to help control post-procedure pain.”

Tail docking is to be done before pigs are seven days old. If there is tail biting in a pen, the aggressor is to be removed.

Every hog operation must develop a written policy on euthanasia and staff who perform it must be trained.

Every hog operation must provide sick pens and have an ongoing relationship with a veterinarian and a protocol for herd health.

Ear notching for animal identification is discouraged, but if deemed necessary, must be done before they are 14 days old.

The 43-page code has an extensive bibliography referring to the scientific reports used in its development and a listing of the standards.