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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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New road sign to protect small wildlife

News Story 1
 Transport secretary Chris Grayling has unveiled a new road sign to help cut traffic accidents and protect small wildlife, particularly hedgehogs.

Local authorities and animal welfare groups are being asked to identify accident and wildlife hotspots where the sign - which features a hedgehog - should be located.

Government figures show that more than 600 people were injured in road accidents involving animals in 2017, and four people were killed. These figures do not include accidents involving horses. The new sign will be used to warn motorists in areas where there are large concentrations of small wild animals, including squirrels, badgers, otters and hedgehogs.  

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News Shorts
NOAH members re-elect Jamie Brannan as chair

Jamie Brannan, senior Vice President of Zoetis, has been re-elected as chair of NOAH for 2019/20, during this year’s AGM, held in London.

Mr Brannan joined Zoetis and the NOAH board in 2016, becoming NOAH’s vice-chair in 2018 and replacing Gaynor Hillier as chair later that year.

He commented: “I am extremely pleased to have been elected by the NOAH membership and am proud to be able to represent our industry at such a critical time for the UK animal health industry. I look forward to driving forward our new NOAH Strategy and to working with our members, old and new, in the coming year.”