Are there Assurance Schemes that have Specific Requirements for Free Farrowing?
Yes – There are a number of smaller UK based schemes that aim to meet particular consumer demands, such as higher animal welfare and environmental or organic standards. A number of these schemes are relevant for farrowing and lactation systems.
RSPCA Assured (previously known as Freedom Food) is the RSPCA’s farm assurance and food labelling scheme. RSPCA Assured assesses and approves farms, hauliers and abattoirs that meet all of the applicable RSPCA welfare standards. These standards are written by the RSPCA’s team of scientific officers in the Farm Animals Department, and are based on leading scientific, veterinary and practical industry expertise. Products from animals reared under the RSPCA Assured scheme can be labelled with the scheme’s food label: ‘RSPCA Assured’.
Is my Farrowing Accommodation Eligible for RSPCA Assured?
It should be emphasised that neither the RSPCA nor RSPCA Assured “approve” equipment for freedom farrowing.
“RSPCA Assured (previously Freedom Food) will approve a farm, including the use of any equipment in-situ, following complete and thorough assessment of the farm as a whole”. “The farm must meet all of the RSPCA’s welfare standards for pigs in order to gain accreditation”.
This website concentrates on farrowing and lactation accommodation, therefore below summarises the main requirements that are needed from a farrowing house to comply with the RSPCA’s standards. To get full details including the full standards covering the whole life of the pig, not just its time on-farm, visit the RSPCA welfare standards for pigs.
- Farrowing crates are not permitted under the RSPCA Assured scheme. The use of voluntary feeding stalls is permitted, but equipment that has the potential to confine the sow for farrowing must not be present.
- At least 2kg of straw must be provided per sow 48 hours prior to the expected farrowing date in order to satisfy nest building behaviour.
- A bedded lying area/nest area that measures at least 2.8m2 must be provided (excluding any separate creep).
- The total minimum pen size, including the lying area/nest area, must be at least 5m2. Any feeding stall provided must be in addition to this i.e. it cannot be counted as part of the minimum pen size.
- A separate creep area measuring at least 0.7m2 must be provided.
- The flooring in the creep area and lying area/nest area must be solid. The solid lying area/nest area may have evenly distributed occasional perforations (up to 1%) to help with drainage.
Visit the RSPCA Assured website.
The Soil Association organic standards have the EU organic regulation as their baseline. In many cases the standards are more robust than those set by EU regulations.
Is my Farrowing Accommodation Eligible for Soil Association Accreditation?
The key feature relating to farrowing and lactation systems is that any sow farrowing under Soil Association standards must be housed under outdoor conditions.
For more information about specific requirements please visit the link relating to Soil Associations’ Farming and Growing Standards.
Other Assurance Schemes
There might be other assurance schemes that have specific free farrowing requirements. Labelling of the product could offer the consumer a way to gather more information on requirements for farrowing and lactation systems. Visit our labelling page to learn more.