Pig welfare guidance

Guidance about the needs of pigs and how to meet these needs in accordance with good practice.


This guidance applies in relation to Scotland only. It is issued by the Scottish Ministers under section 38 of the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 with a view to securing the welfare of farmed pigs under all types of husbandry systems in Scotland. This guidance is intended to help all those who care for farmed pigs to ensure that their needs are met to the extent required by good practice.

In some areas, this guidance contains advice that goes beyond good practice by recommending even higher welfare standards or indicating possible future requirements. Going beyond good practice may result in better health and welfare for your pigs.

Annex 3 to this guidance includes information on the relevant law applying to ‘pet’ pigs kept in a domesticated environment. That section is for information only and should not be considered part of this guidance.

This guidance can be considered within the context of the Animal Welfare Committee’s concept of quality of life for farm animals (see Annex 3). An animal’s quality of life can be classified as a life not worth living, a life worth living, and a good life. This guidance is intended to help those responsible for pigs to provide them with, as a minimum, a life worth living.

The Animal Welfare Committee’s ‘Five Freedoms’ form the guiding principles for the assessment of welfare within any system, together with the actions necessary to safeguard welfare within the constraints of an efficient livestock industry.

The Five Freedoms are:

1. Freedom from hunger and thirst by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour;

2. Freedom from discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area;

3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment;

4. Freedom to express normal behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animals’ own kind;

5. Freedom from fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment to avoid mental suffering.

The Five Freedoms should be considered in conjunction with the Animal Welfare Committee’s three essential attributes of a stock-keeper:

1. Knowledge of Animal Husbandry

Sound knowledge of the biology and husbandry of farm animals, including how their needs may be best provided for in all circumstances.

2. Skills in Animal Husbandry

Demonstrable skills in observation, handling, care and treatment of animals, and problem detection and resolution.

3. Personal Qualities

Affinity and empathy with animals, dedication and patience.

Without these essentials, animal welfare can never be adequately protected.

Those who have care of pigs should demonstrate:

  • Caring and responsible planning and management;
  • Skilled, knowledgeable and conscientious attitude;
  • Knowledge of design of the pigs’ housed environment;
  • Considerate handling and transport; and
  • Knowledge of humane slaughter.


Email: animal_health_welfare@gov.scot

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