Spain is the currently the first pig producing country in the EU, with 86,000 farms and 48 million pigs slaughtered in 2016. Extensive farming is less than 4%, with the remaining 96% of pigs being reared under intensive industrial conditions.
A Commission’s audit report published on 2 May shows yet another example of lack of enforcement of the ban on routine tail docking of pigs in the EU. According to Directorate F, in charge of Food Audits and Analysis, the Spanish competent authorities have so far failed to enforce the legislation. Twenty four years since the first ban on routine tail docking in the EU, the Spanish authorities still do not have an action plan to reduce tail biting or to carry out risk assessment on farm. The Commission Recommendation has not been taken into account in developing tools for assessing farming conditions. The Autonomous Communities only started in 2017 to carry out surveys among pig farmers to have a clearer idea of the practices and current tail docking prevalences. There is a shared sense of satisfaction for the current rearing system in the Spanish pig production sector, and no perceived sense of urgency to change practices, in spite of 98.5% of pigs still being tail docked. The primary form of enrichment material continue to be metal chains, sometimes pieces of wood, in spite of the Commission Recommendation clearly stating that these are insufficient (marginal and suboptimal, respectively) to prevent tail biting. On the other hand, as clear guidance on enforcement is lacking and sanctions are not dissuasive, farmers have little incentive to improve their practices.
Eurogroup for Animals is campaigning to put an end to illegal conditions in European pig farming. Do you want to support us? Click here to sign the petition.