Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine

Animal Welfare

Photo of Neasa HouriganNeasa Hourigan (Dublin Central, Green Party)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

158. To ask the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine when, and the manner in which, he intends to honour the programme for Government commitment to uphold the EU pigs directive; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17028/22]

Photo of Charlie McConalogueCharlie McConalogue (Donegal, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

Animal welfare is a key priority for me. In 2020, I launched the Department's first stand-alone animal welfare strategy, with the specific aim of delivering on key animal welfare issues as set out in the programme for government.

On the issue of the Pig Welfare Directive and specifically the matter of tail docking, in the last two years, my Department has implemented specific actions to deal with this issue, and work is ongoing.

Since 2020, trained veterinary inspectors have implemented a programme of specifically designed on-farm pig welfare inspections. These inspections identify the risk factors for tail biting on farms visited and give farmers the opportunity to address them and start rearing pigs with intact tails. This is an important step towards compliance with the EU legislation on tail docking.

In addition, my Department has collaborated with Animal Health Ireland and Teagasc to deliver a free tail biting risk assessment tool for pig farmers. This enables them to work with their own veterinary practitioner to identify farm-specific risk factors for tail biting and to develop an action plan to deal with the risks at pen level. The latest figures show 387 pig farms have availed of this measure which is very encouraging.

A new round of TAMS will launch shortly. This scheme offers farmers up to €200,000 towards new pig housing infrastructure. The specifications have been scrupulously researched to address issues leading to tail biting such as more space, comfortable flooring and feeding space. I am confident that future housing constructed in line with this specification will enable pigs to be reared without any need for tail docking.

The pig industry is experiencing a difficult period at the moment, however, I can assure you that my Department remains fully committed to making concrete progress on the issue of compliance with the European Pigs Directive. The pig sector is a crucial one in the agriculture sector and is really important to our overall economy.


No comments

Log in or join to post a public comment.