EU farmers to phase out pig castration

Welfare groups have welcomed news that a declaration has been signed by EU farmers to phase out surgical castration of pigs.

Farmers signed the voluntary declaration under the condition that the practice would be withdrawn by 2018 if methods for assessment, measurement and detection of boar taint were developed.

Copa-Cogeca secretary-general Pekka Pesonen said: “With this declaration we are committed to end surgical castration by 2018, as long as scientific and economic conditions are respected and in place in time.”

Pesonen said that the costs of such a move must, however, be shared with the rest of the food chain. She added: “I regret that some key European Union retailer and consumer organisations have failed to join us in this important initiative. We hope they will join us as soon as possible.”

The declaration is a voluntary commitment, which should ensure that, after 1 January 2012, no surgical castration will take place without recognised analgesia and/or anaesthesia and, after 1 January 2018, no surgical castration will take place at all.

The news has been welcomed by Eurogroup for Animals. Dr Michel Courat, policy officer for farm animals, said: “While Eurogroup applauds this major step forward, it is only one step in a long process and it is now imperative that all stakeholders remain committed to the principles of the declaration and deliver results. We will continue to monitor closely the development of the European partnership and ensure the welfare of pigs is maintained by all stakeholders

“We must also build on the number of stakeholders that sign up to the declaration and we will work to gain the support of other supply chain actors, in particular the retailers, to only accept meat from non-castrated pigs in future.”

>>European Commission put forward CAP reforms

>>British pig production ‘still lags behind’ Europe