UK pig sector cautious as Germany bans farrowing crates

The recent German farrowing crate ban may move the spotlight on the UK pig sector, British producers warn
The recent German farrowing crate ban may move the spotlight on the UK pig sector, British producers warn

British pig producers warn that Germany's new ban on farrowing crates is likely to intensify calls for the UK government to enact a similar decision.

New rules, announced last week, give German pig producers eight years to remove insemination stalls and 15 years to replace farrowing crates.

While there is government support for the transition, farmers have raised fears over the costly transition, which could force many out of business.

The UK's National Pig Association (NPA) called the move by the German government 'hugely significant'.



The NPA continues to hold discussions on the subject with the UK government, which has repeatedly made clear it intends to phase out farrowing crates.

But NPA chief executive Zoe Davies stressed that momentum was growing, with the news from Germany likely to strengthen the UK government’s resolve.



There was a commitment in the new Pig Welfare code for to ‘move towards a future where farrowing crates are no longer needed’, while Boris Johnson recently indicated his desire for a ban.

Ms Davies said the announcement from Germany would be used as a 'leverage' to make it happen in the UK sooner.

"The tide is shifting, but we are in regular dialogue with the government on the issue," she said.

“We will continue to argue very much against a ban as it goes entirely against the new collaborative approach Defra has been taking of late.

"Regardless of the outcome, we will push for as long a transition as possible.”

The NPA said a farrowing crate ban would raise issues with initial costs of converting to the system and securing planning.

Ms Davies explained: "There will also be an on-going cost for the reduction in productivity which the consumer will need to pay for.



"Producers will also need support in terms of training to help them adapt to the new system and keep piglets and staff safe."

She added: “Particularly as we negotiate new trade deals, we must not end up in the situation we found ourselves after the UK banned sow stalls in 1999, losing our own producers only to import pork in large quantities produced from systems using sow stalls.

"A repeat would be a disaster for the UK pig sector and do nothing for the welfare of pigs.”