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The UK Government plans to launch new welfare codes for pigs and poultry later this year.
The codes are part of a bid to improve conditions for farmed animals, according to sources.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs [Defra] claims the updated codes will ‘reflect the very latest advice from vets and animal husbandry developments, as part of a program of reforms to safeguard and enhance the welfare of animals’.
Under the proposals, animal keepers will be expected to ‘provide a more enriched environment for all pigs, laying hens, and meat chickens’.
This environment should enable animals to ‘display more of their natural behaviours such as foraging, helping to ensure more fulfilled and healthier animals’.
According to Defra: “The user-friendly codes also provide detailed guidance to animal keepers on how to assess the welfare of their animals, as well as on contingency planning to help ensure the welfare of their animals during any emergencies.
“The codes will be used by enforcement bodies including Animal and Plant Health Agency inspectors and local authorities when investigating allegations of poor welfare to look at whether animal welfare standards are being met.”
Organizations like Animal Equality have uncovered grim conditions on some British pig farms
Minister for Animal welfare, Lord Gardiner, said: “We have some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world and are going further, including raising maximum sentences for animal cruelty to five years and introducing mandatory CCTV in abattoirs.
“We are carefully consulting with industry experts, and using the most recent scientific and veterinary advice to ensure this clear guidance provides the best advice to owners and keepers to help ensure the high welfare standards of their animals.”
While Lord Gardiner speaks highly of British welfare standards, campaigners have highlighted that conditions on many farms are extremely grim.
Animal Equality is a leading global animal protection agency, which often films undercover on farms all over the world.
Speaking about conditions on some UK farms, Dr Toni Shephard, UK Director of Animal Equality, has previously said: “Consumers are constantly told to ‘Buy British’ for higher welfare, yet laws governing pig welfare – some nearly two decades old – are routinely ignored and neither the Government, retailers nor Red Tractor are doing enough to enforce them.
“This flagrant cruelty cannot be allowed to continue. We are demanding immediate action from those responsible for protecting pigs from the most extreme practices of factory farming.”
An activist source told PBN: “The Government seems to be bringing in changes to try and improve animal welfare.
“It is positive that the changes extend to some farmed animals – but I would like to hear more from Defra about whether it will update codes for animals like cows and sheep too.
“It will be interesting to see exactly what the new welfare codes say – and more importantly, whether they are enforced.
“Ultimately, the only way to ensure less animal suffering is to go vegan.”