Standards for treatment of animals

Model Codes of Practice for Animal Welfare

Through the sub-committee on Animal Welfare, Primary Industries Ministerial Council (PIMC) has developed a number of Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals. These codes are intended as a guide for the individual States and Territories in the development of their own Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals.

The Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Pigs

This Code was revised in 2007 and encourages efficient and considerate treatment and handling of pigs in all types of production systems. It was developed in full consultation with animal industries, welfare groups and relevant State and Australian Government authorities. The key changes to the Welfare Code are:

  • The area of all new stalls is increased*;
  • For pregnant sows there will be a maximum of six weeks (previously 16 weeks) confinement in stalls, after which they will be moved into group housing situations with other sows. i.e. They will only be allowed to be individually housed until they are mated and their pregnancy is confirmed*.
  • There is a requirement for persons managing and conducting procedures on pigs to be competent or under the direct supervision of a person who is trained;
  • Stock-people are required to inspect their pigs regularly and more often in hot conditions;
  • Sows that are placed into farrowing crates to give birth remain there for no longer than six weeks. The use of farrowing crates aides in the protection of the piglets;
  • Farrowing crate area increased in all new installations;
  • The use of any stall or crates for boars or sows will require that they be appropriate for the size of the animal and allow them to stand and lie down without obstruction or injury;
  • Boars must be released for exercise;
  • Where there is any evidence of serious behavioural problems due to individual housing, the animals must be examined by a qualified person and treated;
  • Development of recommendations for keeping of pigs in free-range situations, including their shelter and accommodation.

The code recommends that pig farmers join their industry quality assurance management programs to provide improved welfare, high skill levels and greater market opportunity.

The Code includes implementation deadlines following its publication on the following key standards:

  • Three years for skill training of staff - 2010;
  • Five years for pen size allowance increases - 2012;
  • Ten years to introduce the 6 week limit for use of sow stalls - 2017; and
  • Full implementation of the model code of practice by all pig farmers by 2017.

These codes of practice are being revised under a new process, and like the Model Code of Practice, these new “Standards and Guidelines” will be incorporated into state law. Encouragingly, the Model Code is state law everywhere except Tasmania, which is yet to regulate in this area.

*Note that the Code was released before the industry committed to the voluntary phase out of sow stalls, hence the references to stalls.

Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals (Pigs), 2007

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