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A new welfare code has been updated and published in parliament. The new pig code will provide guidance to pig producers on how to practise the highest standards of animal welfare.

These standards are comprehensive and set out enhanced guidance on:
  • improved practices on how to prevent tail biting, avoiding the need to routinely dock pigs’ tails
  • detailed advice to pig producers on biosecurity, contingency planning, and antibiotic use
  • guidance on how to assess the health and welfare of pigs
  • advice on farrowing, to protect the welfare of both sows and piglets.

Animal Welfare Minister Zac Goldsmith said:

“As someone who has kept pigs throughout my life I am proud that the UK leads the way on improving animal welfare – whether that be the ban on keeping sows in close confinement stalls or our latest legislation to increase custodial sentences for animal cruelty.

“This new code sets out the highest standards on how to best keep pigs using the latest scientific and veterinary advice to safeguard and enhance welfare standards. I urge all farmers and those in industry to take full heed of it.

“Our country’s high animal welfare standards are something to be proud of and we will continuously work to ensure they are maintained and improved.”

The welfare of farmed animals is protected by law and is further supported by statutory species-specific welfare codes.

The code will also be used by enforcement bodies, including Animal and Plant Health Agency inspectors and local authorities, when investigating allegations of poor welfare to look at whether animal welfare standards are being met.

This is the third code to be updated, following the new meat-chicken and laying-hen codes which came into force in March and August 2018 respectively.

The pig welfare code applies to England only, although devolved administrations will aim to align their new codes as closely as possible to Defra’s.

For further enquiries please contact the Defra group news desk on 0330 041 6560 or email For out of hours please call 0345 051 8486.