Pig welfare code

The Australian 'Model code of practice for the welfare of animals – pigs (3rd edition)' is a voluntary code under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001. It contains standards and guidelines to provide minimum acceptable levels of animal welfare for pigs. It applies to all ages and types of pigs, whether kept commercially, as a hobby or as pets.

Key standards within the pig code are written into the Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2023 Schedule 2 as the 'Code of practice about pigs'. These requirements have been mandatory since 2010.

The code promotes animal welfare outcomes for pigs by defining acceptable pig management practices, and encouraging considerate and efficient treatment and handling of pigs in all types of production systems.

The code has been developed in consultation with animal industries, animal welfare groups, and relevant state and federal government departments. It is one of a series of national animal welfare codes for livestock. The current code (3rd edition) was published in 2008.

Aspects of the pig welfare code

The pig code outlines key standards, some of which have been implemented into legislation and are mandatory. The model code of practice itself will remain a key source document for pig producers to use as a guide to best practice, and courts considering evidence in alleged cases of breach of the legislation.

The code recognises that the basic requirement for pig welfare is a husbandry system that depends on trained and skilled stockpersons and is appropriate to the pigs' physiological and behavioural needs.

The code covers the animal welfare aspects of:

  • accommodation to ensure adequate space including to stand, stretch and lie down
  • shelter to protect from temperature extremes and environmental factors
  • cleaning and waste control
  • appropriate food and water
  • handling that minimises the likelihood of unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress
  • inspections, and rapid diagnosis and correct treatment of injury or disease
  • additional requirements for extensive conditions
  • requirements for competency of stockpersons
  • methods for humanely destroying pigs.

The code is not a comprehensive manual on how to care for pigs and does not provide detailed information such as diets or animal health regimes.

Duty of care to pigs

Anyone who owns, manages or handles pigs may have a legal duty of care under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 and be responsible for ensuring they are competent to carry out their duties to the pigs in their charge.

This includes:

  • pig owners (commercial and non-commercial)
  • pig managers
  • pig handlers
  • contractors
  • managers and abattoir staff
  • drivers
  • veterinarians
  • pig processors
  • transport company managers and staff.

Other welfare codes relevant to pigs

Everyone involved in transporting pigs must comply with the compulsory code of practice for transport of livestock.

More information on the appropriate care and handling of pigs at slaughter is available in the animal welfare code for livestock at slaughtering establishments.

Those involved in feral pig control should be familiar with the code of practice for the destruction or capture, handling and marketing of feral livestock animals.

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