Pigs (England): Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Pigs (PB7950)

Section 1 - Health


Sick and Injured Animals

The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (S.I. 2000 No. 1870), Schedule 1, paragraph 5 states that:

any animals which appear to be ill or injured -

- shall be cared for appropriately without delay; and

- where they do not respond to care, veterinary advice shall be obtained as soon as possible.

The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I. 2003 No. 299) Schedule 6, Part II, paragraph 3 states that:-

where necessary, sick or injured pigs shall be temporarily isolated in suitable accommodation with dry comfortable bedding.

38. You should take action immediately if any pigs are injured or appear ill or distressed. It is important to exclude the possibility of notifiable diseases. If you are in any doubt about the cause of the ill health or the most effective treatment, consult your veterinary surgeon without delay. Likewise, if an animal you have treated does not respond to treatment, seek your veterinary surgeons advice.
39. Your health and welfare plan should specify a procedure for isolating and caring for sick or injured animals. Hospital pens should be available for each category of pig on the unit. These pens should be easily reached so that you can regularly check on the animal. When moving sick or injured pigs to the hospital pens, you should ensure that unnecessary suffering does not occur. In these hospital pens, you should make sure that drinking water is freely available, and that there are feeding facilities. Particular care is needed where recumbent animals are isolated to ensure that there is easy access to water and feed and that the animals are eating and drinking.
40. If an unfit animal does not respond to treatment, it should be humanely killed on-farm (culled). You should cull any animals suffering from painful and incurable conditions immediately.
The Welfare of Animals (Transport) Order 1997 (S.I. 1997 No. 1480), Articles 4 (1) and 6 respectively, provide that:-

- No person shall transport any animal in a way which causes or is likely to cause injury or unnecessary suffering to that animal.

- No person shall transport any animal unless:

- it is fit for the intended journey; and

- suitable provision has been made for its care during the journey and on arrival at the place of destination.

For these purposes an animal shall not be considered fit for its intended journey if it is ill, injured, infirm or fatigued, unless it is only slightly ill, injured, infirm or fatigued and the intended journey is not likely to cause it unnecessary suffering, likely to give birth during transport, has given birth during the previous 48 hours or is a new born animal in which the navel has not completely healed.

41. You can only transport an unfit animal if you are taking it to a veterinary surgeon for treatment or diagnosis, or to the nearest available place of slaughter - and then, only provided they are not likely to be subject to unnecessary suffering during the journey by reason of their unfitness. More information can be found in Defra's booklet, Guidance on the transport of casualty farm animals (see the Appendix).
42. In an emergency, you may have to slaughter an animal immediately to prevent its suffering. In such cases, you should destroy the animal humanely and, where possible, it should be done by someone who is suitably trained and competent both in slaughter methods and use of the equipment. Under these emergency circumstances a slaughter licence is not required.
It is a general offence under the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 (S.I. 1995 No. 731) as amended by the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) (Amendment) Regulations 1999 (S.I. 1999 No. 400), to cause or permit any avoidable excitement, pain or suffering to any animal during slaughter or killing (regulation 4 (1)).

The general offence applies in all cases, but the detailed provisions in respect of the method of slaughter or killing do not apply when an animal has to be killed immediately for emergency reasons (regulation 13 (2)).

43. If you have to slaughter the animals on-farm in a non-emergency situation, you must do so using a permitted method that is in line with current welfare at slaughter legislation (see box below).
The Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) Regulations 1995 (S.I. 1995 No. 731) as amended by the Welfare of Animals (Slaughter or Killing) (Amendment) Regulations 1999 (S.I. 1999 No. 400) state that when an animal is slaughtered or killed on-farm, this must be done using a permitted method. The animal could be:

- stunned using a captive bolt pistol, concussion stunner or electrical stunner after which it must be followed by bleeding - or pithed - without delay (regulation 14 and Schedules 5 (Part II) and 6). If the animal is stunned and bled, the operation must be carried out by a slaughterman licensed for these operations (Schedule 1), unless the owner is slaughtering an animal for his own consumption; or

- killed by a free bullet (regulation 15 and Schedule 5 Part III); the animal should be killed with a single shot to the head.

44. After slaughter, you must dispose of the carcass by a suitable method (see box below):
Article 5 of the Animal By-Products Order 1999 (S.I. 1999 No. 646) requires that fallen stock are disposed of by:

- despatch to a knackers yard, hunt kennel or similar premises;

- incineration;

- rendering;

- in certain circumstances, burial in such a way that carnivorous animals cannot gain access to the carcass, or burning.

This provision applies to the disposal of stillborn piglets and foetuses, as well as to older pigs.

The Dogs Acts 1906 - 28 include provisions making it an offence for a person knowingly to permit a carcass to remain unburied in a place to which dogs could gain access.
At present, burial or burning is only permitted in very limited circumstances. If you plan to bury the carcass on-farm, you should first check that the local authority allows this under the Animals By-Products Order 1999. However, from 30 April 2003, new EU legislation, the Animal By-Products Regulation, will ban the routine burial and burning of animal carcases.
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