Pig producers in Europe will not be granted an extension to the deadline date by which they must remove individual stall housing for their pregnant sows, the European Union’s top official on animal welfare has insisted at the EuroTier 2010 exhibition in Germany.

A directive issued by the EU requires all breeding herds in the 27 member states to stop using individual sow stalls in the gestation period, as from 1st January 2013. Many national industry representatives have expressed their hope recently that they would be allowed more time to make the change, because of the level of investment required while profitability remains rather poor and the reluctance of banks to lend money to farms.

However, Dr Andrea Gavinelli assured the 2nd Chinese-European Pig Summit at the exhibition that the deadline will stay in place. Dr Gavinelli heads the animal welfare unit in the Directorate-General for Health and Consumers at the European Commission.

The decision to outlaw sow stalls was taken in 2001, he reminded the Summit. Europe’s pig industries therefore will have had 12 years to switch from individual to group housing in the gestation period as the law requires.