Introduction to Standards and Guidelines for the Welfare of Pigs
The Victorian Standards and Guidelines for the Welfare of Pigs, commonly referred to as the Pig Welfare Standards are being adopted into Victorian legislation under the Livestock Management Act 2010 in December 2011. These welfare standards and guidelines are based on the revision of the current Australian Model Code of Practice for Animals - Pigs (3rd edition 2007).
Who do the Pig Welfare Standards apply to?
The Standards will apply to all persons (livestock operators) involved in a pig farming operation. This includes stock persons, supervisors, managers and piggery owners.
What are my obligations as a livestock operator (pig farmer)?
The Livestock Management Act 2010 (LMA) requires all livestock operators involved in pig farming in Victoria to comply with the Pig Welfare Standards. There will be court penalties and/or infringements for those operators found to be in breach of the Standards.
The LMA also requires livestock operators to conduct a systematic risk assessment of any prescribed livestock management standard within six months of these Standards being adopted into legislation. This involves an assessment of the likely risks to animal welfare arising from the livestock management activity. Refer to the department Information Note - Livestock Management Standards - A Systematic Risk Assessment for information on how to conduct such a risk assessment.
Livestock operators who are participating in an approved compliance arrangement, that is a DPI approved industry Quality Assurance (QA) program such as APIQP (pending approval) become 'accredited' livestock operators, and will be exempt from conducting the systematic risk assessment as such a risk assessment will have been performed under the rules of their approved QA program.
What are welfare 'Standards' and 'Guidelines'?
Standards are the legal requirements for livestock welfare and use the word 'must'. The standards detail the requirements of livestock management practices and tasks.
Guidelines are recommended practices to achieve desirable welfare outcomes. Guidelines use the word 'should' and are designed to complement the standards.
Pig Welfare Standards & Guidelines
The standards and guidelines are listed under different categories (headings), depending on the management practice or theme.
- Competence of the stock-person - these standards and guidelines relate to the skills required of personnel caring for pigs.
- Food and Water - these standards stipulate the minimum requirements for feeding, water and monitoring of pigs and automated systems.
- Accommodation (housing) - depending on the piggery system, housing should meet animal welfare, environmental and operator health and safety requirements. Accommodation for pigs must be designed, constructed, maintained, and managed in a manner that minimises the risks to pigs from adverse weather, injuries and predators. National industry agreed standards set out the minimum space requirements for pens, stalls and farrowing crates. There are standards and guidelines outlining requirements of equipment for feeding and ventilation systems for maintaining temperature and air quality and for waste control. There are specific requirements for pigs kept outdoors.
- Husbandry - Minimum requirements for management and husbandry procedures are set in the standards with the guidelines complementing the standards for good practices and welfare outcomes relating to:
- Inspection of pigs
- Farrowing and weaning of pigs
- Boar management
- Moving pigs
- Elective husbandry procedures such as castration, tail docking, clipping 'needle' teeth and tasks, nose ringing, identification, back-fat measurement and pregnancy diagnosis.
- Preparation for transport and slaughter - refer to the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines - Land Transport of Livestock.
- Humane destruction (euthanasia) - these standards provide for where it is necessary to destroy pigs, it is done promptly, safely and humanely. The guidelines detail humane destruction methods and procedures.
The Pig Welfare Standards document contains useful information in the appendices:
- Condition Scoring of pigs
- Water requirements for pigs
- Space allowances for pigs
- Temperature recommendations
- Methods of humane destruction (euthanasia) for pigs
For a copy of the Victorian Standards and Guidelines for the Welfare of Pigs.
Further information relating to Animal Welfare Standards can be found in the following departmemt Information Notes which are available on the department website
Further information relating to Animal Welfare Standards can be at the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines website.
- Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines
- Livestock Management Act 2010
- Livestock Management Standards - a Systematic Risk Assessment
- Land Transport of Livestock Standards and Guidelines
Authored by: Dr David Champness, Principal Veterinary Officer, Biosecurity Victoria, July 2011.