Pig tail-docking ban floated by EU Commission
The routine tail-docking of pigs by farmers must be stopped, the EU Commission has insisted.
In a recent letter to pig producers, the Department of Agriculture warned that it would be inspecting units to monitor compliance with the new regulations.
The Commission's actions follow on from a recent gathering of pig farmers and experts at Grange which dealt with the "successful rearing of pigs with intact tails".
"At the meeting the EU Commission sent out a clear message that all routine tail-docking of pigs must be stopped," the Department letter stated.
"Action must be taken immediately by pig producers to meet the requirements as set out in EU and National legislation.
"The Commission has indicated that it will be monitoring farmers' compliance over the coming year…
"DAFM inspectors will carry out a series of welfare checks on pig farms to verify efforts are being made to comply with the legislation."
Inspectors will also take note of farmers' compliance with stocking density regulations and the provision of enrichment material.
Under the new regulations it is also a requirement that pig farms carry out a risk assessment on tail biting on their farms for 2019.
Reacting to the letters, the IFA said it would continue to engage with both the Department and Teagasc on the issue of tail docking.
"Irish pig farmers aim for the highest welfare standards for their pigs. The ask of the DAFM to comply with EU council directive 2008/120/EC is a complicated task and multifactorial," an IFA spokesperson told the Farming Independent.
"Pig farmers will continue to co-operate fully with the DAFM on this issue, and the expertise provided by Teagasc, in terms of advice and ongoing research, will greatly assist them.
"Risk assessments carried out to date on many pig farms have shown that the issue of tail-docking is complicated and needs to be carefully considered, using the best advice from the farm PVP [vet]."
"The IFA will participate in a special meeting to discuss progress, and problems encountered on this issue in Ireland, along with representative from all EU member states, in Grange, Co Meath, on Tuesday [today] and Wednesday next [tomorrow]."
Privately, pig producers have told the Farming Independent that a blanket ban on tail docking could have serious consequences for the industry, particularly given the current difficulties of poor prices and returns from the business.