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Update on new pig tail docking rules
Farmers will need to provide evidence that tail docking is justified and that ‘reasonable’ effort has been taken.
Calls to delay new regime over lack of clarity 

The National Pig Association (NPA) is urging the government to delay new rules on tail docking, citing a lack of clarity over what will be expected of farmers.

A new inspection regime is due to come into force in April, which will mean that pig tail docking can only be carried out if there is evidence that the risk of tail biting has been reduced and all likely trigger factors addressed.

Failure to comply with inspections could result in enforcement action and Single Payment deductions, NPA warned.

The new rules were expected to come into force in January, but the deadline for implementation was extended after NPA called for more time to seek clarity.

After a meeting with the APHA, the NPA has provided an update on the new regime.

Key changes:
  • farmers will need to provide evidence that tail docking is justified and that ‘reasonable’ effort has been taken. APHA will no longer accept a letter from a vet to justify docking
  • pigs must be provided with some form of enrichment and farmers must be prepared to make improvements if enrichment is found wanting. A mix of wood and chains and/or plastic would be acceptable, APHA is reported to have said, assuming the pigs use it
  • inspectors will also look at ammonia and CO2 levels, humidity and light - all of which can affect pig behaviour and potentially tail biting. APHA does not expect all pig farmers to measure ammonia levels - action should be taken if ammonia levels are detectable by nose and high enough to affect pig welfare.

NPA stressed that there could be serious unintended consequences if tail docking stopped suddenly. Zoe Davies added that there is currently a lack of clarity over the percentage of tail-bitten pigs farmers would need to see before docking is deemed acceptable.

She added: “APHA will come down harder on farmers who fail to accept there is an issue where one has been raised.”

NPA is requesting a three-stage process where there is not a clear breach, so that farmers would initially receive an advisory notice, then a formal notice, before a breach is declared. 

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Celebrity chefs urge public to get baking to support Cats Protection fundraiser

News Story 1
 In support of Cats Protection's Pawsome Afternoon Tea fundraiser, Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and Great British Bake Off star Kim-Joy have shared biscuit recipes to help keen bakers raise money for needy cats across April.

The celebrity chefs are both cat owners and have said that they hope this fundraiser will help to raise awareness of cats in need and the importance of adopting a cat, rather than buying one.

This is the fourth year Cats Protection has run its Pawsome Afternoon Tea campaign, which encourages people to hold tea parties, bake sales and fundraising events to help raise money for the charity.

To view the recipes and other fundraising resources please visit the Cats Protection website. 

Click here for more...
News Shorts
BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.