Pig welfare guidance

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

Annex 3: Sources of further information

These sources of further information are for information only and should not be considered to be part of the guidance. These sources of information are current on the date that this guidance is published. (Please see the final page for the date of publication.) Any of the sources of information listed here could change.

Council of Europe Recommendation Concerning Pigs

European Commission guidance on pig welfare

Council Directive 2008/120/EC on minimum standards for the protection of pigs

General welfare information

Farm Animal Welfare Council report: Farm Animal Welfare in Great Britain: Past, Present and Future – includes a discussion of the concept of quality of life for farm animals.

Farm Animal Welfare Council report on Stockmanship and Farm Animal Welfare

Pigs kept as companion animals

The Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006 will apply when pigs are kept in a domesticated state, including so called “micro pigs”, “teacup piglets” and “mini-pigs”. Owners / keepers should ensure they know what type of pig they are buying so they can be provided with a suitable living environment. Owners / keepers should understand and be able to meet all the welfare needs of their pig before purchase.

Anyone who keeps a pig needs a county parish holding (CPH) number supplied by the Scottish Government Rural Payments and Inspections Division. The place where the pigs are to be kept must be registered with the APHA within one month of the first pig’s arrival and preferably before that. Upon registration, APHA will provide a herd mark specific to the CPH. This herd mark must, subject to a small number of exceptions, be used to identify the pig if it is moved off the premises. A licence is required from APHA for anyone wanting to walk their pigs (which must be identified with a tag or tattoo) along specific approved routes outside of the premises. This licence needs to be renewed annually. An owner / keeper moving a pig to a veterinary practice for emergency treatment need not notify the movement. For detailed information on all these aspects, see:

Pig Identification and Registration

Scottish Government guidance on livestock identification and traceability

UK Government guidance on keeping a pet pig or micropig

AHDB's new pig keepers guide for small-scale production

“Pet” pigs are not exempt from any of the legislation applying to the use of medicines in animals. See Annex 1 for the legislation on the responsible use of medicines.

“Pet” pigs must not be fed waste food or scraps from the home kitchen or any other catering establishment, including from restaurants and commercial kitchens producing vegan food, and they must never be fed meat or products containing meat of any kind. This is for disease control reasons. Further guidance can be found at the links below.

UK Government guidance on using animal by-products as farm animal feed

APHA guidance on suitable food for pigs

If owners / keepers are unsure of the restrictions on the type of food products which they are permitted to feed to pigs, they should contact APHA for further advice.

General guidance on registering your pig / identification / traceability:

Scottish Government guidance on livestock identification and traceability

Disease control and biosecurity:

Scottish Government guidance on notifiable, reportable and non-notifiable diseases

SRUC leaflet - Practical Biosecurity for Pig Farmers, Smallholders and Pet Pig Keepers in Scotland

Disinfectants approved by Defra

UK Government guidance on animal by-products

UK Government guidance on using animal by-products as farm animal feed

AHDB's guide to rodent control on farms

National Pig Association's Muck Free Truck campaign

Loading, unloading and transport

UK Government guidance - animal welfare during transport

Humane Slaughter Association's guidance on the transport of livestock

EU Animal Transport Guide - Guide to good practices for the transport of pigs

Food chain information | Food Standards Scotland

Monitoring animal health and welfare

EU Reference Centre for Animal Welfare - Indicator Factsheets

Managing sick and injured animals:

The Casualty Pig Guide, produced by the Pig Veterinary Society, provides further guidance.

On farm killing:

UK Government guidance on welfare of animals at the time of killing

UK Government guidance on using animal by-products as farm animal feed

Scottish Government guidance on animal by-products

UK Government guidance for the animal by-product industry

Food Standards Scotland Home Slaughter of Livestock Guide

Humane Slaughter Association emergency slaughter guide

Humane Slaughter Association guidance on killing of neonates

Responsible medicines usage and record keeping:

Veterinary Medicines Directorate

The Cascade: Prescribing unauthorised medicines

RUMA: Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance

Pig Veterinary Society Prescribing Principles for Antimicrobials

electronic Medicine Book for Pigs

Accommodation – Floors:

Information on the relevant standard for the manufacture of concrete floors used in pig housing BS EN 12737:2004 + A1: 2007 can be found in the following table:

Type Minimum beam width (slat) Maximum opening width (gap / slot) Tolerance: Maximum permitted deviation
Piglet 50mm 11mm No tolerance
Weaner 50mm 14mm +/- 2mm
Rearer 80mm 18mm +/- 3mm
Gilt 80mm 20mm +/- 3mm
Sow 80mm 20mm +/- 3mm
Boar 80mm 20mm +/- 3mm


AHDB information on environmental enrichment for pigs

AHDB - Environmental enrichment: a practical guide

Automated and mechanical equipment

HSE information on health and safety in agriculture

Farmwise guide to health and safety in agriculture

Feed, water and other substances:

AHDB RAFT 2017 report on water

Managing and reducing the risk of tail biting:

AssureWel guide to measuring manure on the body

AHDB Pork Tail Biting Web-based Husbandry Advice Tool (WebHAT)

EU Reference Centre for Animal Welfare - Management of Unweaned Piglets

Farewell Dock project

Farrowing sows and piglets:

The European Food Safety Authority report on Welfare of pigs on farm (which makes recommendations informing EU legislation) recommends (section 5.9.2) that:

1. For animal welfare reasons, periparturient and lactating sows should not be housed in farrowing crates but in farrowing pens.

2. When housing a lactating sow and her piglets in a farrowing pen, the minimum available space for the sow should be around 6.6 m2 in order to achieve comparable piglet mortality to a farrowing crate system. This equates to ~ 7.8 m2 total pen size.

3. A larger pen size than referred to in the recommendation above is recommended to improve the locomotory possibilities for the sow.

Further guidance on free farrowing can be found at:


Weaners and rearing pigs

The European Food Safety Authority report on Welfare of pigs on farm (which makes recommendations informing EU legislation) concludes (section that:

1. If space is insufficient, it will prevent pigs from performing highly motivated behaviours, including exploratory / foraging, social, resting and thermoregulatory behaviours, and from maintaining separate dunging and lying areas. Reduced space allowance promotes damaging behaviours such as aggression and tail biting, and compromises growth.

2. The impact on pig welfare of insufficient space to perform thermoregulatory behaviour is greater at high ambient temperatures where no other cooling mechanisms are in place. The space required to maintain hygiene is lower in fully slatted compared to other floor types and is greater at higher ambient temperatures.

3. A minimum space allowance equal to k = 0.036 (representing 0.84 m2 for a 110 kg pig) was previously recommended by EFSA (2005) for thermoneutral conditions. At this space allowance, growth rate is less compromised (estimated as 57%) and tail biting is reduced (estimated as 48%) relative to a k = 0.028 (which approximates the current legal minimum space allowance).

4. A minimum space allowance equivalent to a k-value of 0.047 (representing 1.10 m2 for a 110 kg pig), was recommended by EFSA (2005) for temperatures above 25°C or for pigs above 110 kg. At this space allowance, growth rate is even less compromised (estimated as 26%) and tail biting is further reduced (estimated as 17%) relative to a k = 0.028 (which approximates the current legal minimum space allowance).

And recommends (section that:

The minimum space allowance should be increased relative to the current legal requirement to reduce many welfare consequences (e.g. restriction of movement, resting problems, inability to express comfort behaviour, inability to express exploratory / foraging behaviour, group stress, soft tissue lesions and integument damage), thus reducing tail biting behaviour and increasing growth rate.

Pigs kept in outdoor husbandry systems:

Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use - Code of Practice


Email: animal_health_welfare@gov.scot

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