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Pig Health & Disease
on March 26, 2014

Pig welfare agreement reached in Denmark

New agreement will ensure improved welfare for pigs and allow future growth in Danish pig production

A new agreement for improving pig welfare standards has been reached between Dan Jørgensen, the Danish Minister for Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and organizations with an interest in pig production. These include Denmark's leading animal welfare campaigners.

Representatives of Denmark's veterinary profession, retailers and consumer groups were also signatories to a formal declaration, whose terms will ensure improved welfare for pigs while helping the Danish swine industry to realize its growth potential in the years ahead. The agreement was reached at a recent welfare summit convened by the minister.

"We are delighted that the parties have succeeded in reaching a broad agreement, which will secure even higher pig welfare standards in Denmark. At the same time, it recognizes that Danish pig production should achieve the economic growth that Danish society wants. The agreement underpins our future work by finding solutions to some of the major challenges of pig production," said Martin Merrild, Danish Agriculture & Food Council chairman.

Merrild said that the agreement is a natural extension of the important work on improved welfare that the industry, in partnership with scientists and the authorities, has been engaged in over a number of years.

The agreement will set specific targets, with immediate actions identified, in the following areas:

  • Improve survival rates among piglets
  • Encourage uptake of free-farrowing systems for sows - at least 10 percent of sows by 2020
  • Find alternatives to castration of male piglets without anaesthetic by 2018 latest
  • Reduce numbers of tail-docked piglets
  • Lower incidence of stomach ulcers in both sows and finishing pigs

In addition, a major project for new housing design will focus on welfare considerations. The meat industry and retail trade will also provide consumers with more information and greater choice of higher welfare products.

Merrild continued, "It is only in the interests of our farmers that we continue to improve piglet survival rates and try to find sustainable solutions for a number of the challenges that pig production is facing. First and foremost, this will lead to higher welfare standards, but it's also crucial that we producers are as skilled as possible at what we do so that in the long-term we can increase exports and protect the jobs of those employed in agriculture and food production."

Erik Larsen, chairman of the Danish Pig Research Centre, is another who views the agreement as a positive step along the road to improved welfare and competitiveness of Danish pig production.

"We've already come far in a number of areas. Levels of piglet mortality have fallen and we can see the effects of the work we've already done. Together with our partners in this agreement, we have high hopes that we can create even stronger pig production in Denmark, for which there is widespread support."   

The following organizations were signatories to the declaration:

  • Ministry of Food, Agriculture & Fisheries
  • Landbrug og Fodevarer (Danish Agriculture & Food Council)
  • Videncenter for Svineproduktion (Danish Pig Research Centre)
  • Dyrenes Beskyttelse (Animal Protection)
  • Dyrenes Venner (Animal Friends)
  • Den Danske Dyrlægeforening (The Danish Veterinary Association)
  • Danske Slagtemestre (Danish Master Butchers)
  • De Samvirkende Købmænd (The Federation of Grocers)
  • Coop Danmark A/S
  • Dansk Supermarked
  • Forbrugerrådet (Danish Consumer Council) 
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