Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs

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ISBN 978-0-9936189-2-5 (book)
ISBN 978-0-9936189-3-2 (electronic book text)

Available from:

Canadian Pork Council
900-220 Laurier Ave. W, Ottawa, ON K1P 5Z9 CANADA
Telephone: 613-236-9239
Fax: 613-236-6658
Website: www.cpc-ccp.com
Email: info@cpc-ccp.com

For information on the Code of Practice development process contact:

National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC)
Website: www.nfacc.ca
Email: nfacc@xplornet.com

Also available in French

© Copyright is jointly held by the Canadian Pork Council and the National Farm Animal Care Council (2014)

This publication may be reproduced for personal or internal use provided that its source is fully acknowledged. However, multiple copy reproduction of this publication in whole or in part for any purpose (including but not limited to resale or redistribution) requires the kind permission of the National Farm Animal Care Council (see www.nfacc.ca for contact information).

Acknowledgment

Funding for this project has been provided by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Agricultural Flexibility Fund, as part of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.

Disclaimer

Information contained in this publication is subject to periodic review in light of changing practices, government requirements and regulations. No subscriber or reader should act on the basis of any such information without referring to applicable laws and regulations and/or without seeking appropriate professional advice. Although every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the authors shall not be held responsible for loss or damage caused by errors, omissions, misprints or misinterpretation of the contents hereof. Furthermore, the authors expressly disclaim all and any liability to any person, whether the purchaser of the publication or not, in respect of anything done or omitted, by any such person in reliance on the contents of this publication.

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction
Glossary
Section 1 Housing and Handling Facilities
 1.1Housing Systems
   1.1.1Gilts Prior to Breeding
   1.1.2Gestating Gilts and Sows
   1.1.3Nursing Sows with Piglets
   1.1.4Post Farrowing/Weaned Sows
   1.1.5Weaned (Nursery) Pigs and Grower/Finisher Pigs
   1.1.6Boars
 1.2Space Allowances
   1.2.1Sow Space Allowances
   1.2.2Weaned/Grower/Finisher Pig Space Allowances
   1.2.3Boar Space Allowances
 1.3Facilities for Sick and Injured Pigs
 1.4Environmental Management: Temperature, Ventilation and Air Quality
 1.5Lighting
 1.6Flooring and Bedding Management
 1.7Feeding/Watering Areas
 1.8Enrichment
 1.9Outdoor Housing
Section 2 Feed and Water
 2.1Nutrition and Feed Management
   2.1.1Nursing Piglets
   2.1.2Newly Weaned Pigs: First Week
   2.1.3Nursery through Finish
   2.1.4Boars
   2.1.5Gestating and Farrowing Sows
   2.1.6Lactating Sows
 2.2Body Condition Scoring for Breeding Stock
 2.3Water
Section 3 Animal Health
 3.1Relationship of Animal Health to Animal Welfare
 3.2Herd Health Management Program
   3.2.1Reportable/Notifiable Diseases
 3.3Sick and Injured Animals
 3.4Skills Related to Animal Health and Welfare
   3.4.1Recognizing Sickness Behaviour
 3.5On-Farm Surgery
 3.6Farrowing
 3.7Newly Weaned Pigs
 3.8Sanitation
 3.9Pest Control
 3.10Emergency and Safety
Section 4 Husbandry Practices
 4.1Handling, Moving, Restraining and Treating Animals
 4.2Stockmanship Skills Related to Animal Welfare
 4.3Mixing Pigs
 4.4Breeding
   4.4.1Genetic Selection
 4.5Elective Husbandry Procedures
   4.5.1Castration
   4.5.2Identification
   4.5.3Tail Docking and Tail-Biting
   4.5.4Teeth Clipping
   4.5.5Tusk Trimming
Section 5 Transportation
 5.1Pre-Transport Planning
   5.1.1Preparing Pigs for Transport
   5.1.2Preparing Newly Weaned Pigs for Transport
 5.2Fitness for Transport
 5.3Handling During Loading or Unloading
 5.4Loading/Unloading Facilities
Section 6 Euthanasia
 6.1On-Farm Euthanasia Plans
 6.2Decision-Making around Euthanasia
 6.3Methods of Euthanasia
 6.4Confirmation of Death
References
Appendices:
 Appendix A- Guidelines for Determining Individual Stall Sizes for Gestating Gilts and Sows
 Appendix B- Recommended Minimum Floor Space Allowances for Gilts and Sows in Group Housing
 Appendix C- Floor Space Allowances for Weaned/Nursery Pigs
 Appendix D- Floor Space Allowances for Grower/Finisher Pigs
 Appendix E- Recommended Minimum Space Allowances for Boars
 Appendix F- Feeder Design
 Appendix G- Water Intake, Recommended Flow Rate and Height of Nipple Drinkers
 Appendix H- The Six Ss: Simple Criteria for Choosing Enrichment for Pigs
 Appendix I- Sow Body Condition Scoring System
 Appendix J- Example of Decision Tree for Euthanasia
 Appendix K- Pig Vision and Flight Zone
 Appendix L- “Should this Pig be Loaded?” Decision Tree
 Appendix M- Temperature - Humidity Index Table
 Appendix N- Methods of Euthanasia
 Appendix O- Resources for Further Information
 Appendix P- Participants
 Appendix Q- Summary of Code Requirements

Preface

The National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) Code development process was followed in the development of this Code of Practice. This Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs replaces its predecessor developed in 1993 and published by Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.  

The NFACC Code development process aims to:

  • link Codes with science 
  • ensure transparency in the process 
  • include broad representation from stakeholders 
  • contribute to improvements in farm animal care 
  • identify research priorities and encourage work in these priority areas
  • write clearly to ensure ease of reading, understanding and implementation 
  • provide a document that is useful for all stakeholders. 

The Codes of Practice are nationally developed guidelines for the care and handling of farm animals. They serve as our national understanding of animal care requirements and recommended practices. Codes promote sound management and welfare practices for housing, care, transportation and other animal husbandry practices. 

Codes of Practice have been developed for virtually all farmed animal species in Canada. NFACC’s website provides access to all currently available Codes (www.nfacc.ca).

The Codes of Practice are the result of a rigourous Code development process, taking into account the best science available for each species, compiled through an independent peer-reviewed process, along with stakeholder input. The Code development process also takes into account the practical requirements for each species necessary to promote consistent application across Canada and ensure uptake by stakeholders resulting in beneficial animal outcomes. Given their broad use by numerous parties in Canada today, it is important for all to understand how they are intended to be interpreted.

Requirements - these refer to either a regulatory requirement, or an industry imposed expectation outlining acceptable and unacceptable practices and are fundamental obligations relating to the care of animals. Requirements represent a consensus position that these measures, at minimum, are to be implemented by all persons responsible for farm animal care. When included as part of an assessment program, those who fail to implement Requirements may be compelled by industry associations to undertake corrective measures, or risk a loss of market options. Requirements also may be enforceable under federal and provincial regulation.  

Recommended Practices - Code Recommended Practices may complement a Code’s Requirements, promote producer education and can encourage adoption of practices for continuous improvement in animal welfare outcomes. Recommended Practices are those which are generally expected to enhance animal welfare outcomes, but failure to implement them does not imply that acceptable standards of animal care are not met. 

Broad representation and expertise on each Code Development Committee ensures collaborative Code development. Stakeholder commitment is key to ensure quality animal care standards are established
and implemented. 

This Code represents a consensus amongst diverse stakeholder groups. Consensus results in a decision that everyone agrees advances animal welfare but does not imply unanimous endorsement of every aspect of the Code. Codes play a central role in Canada’s farm animal welfare system as part of a process of continuous improvement. As a result, they need to be reviewed and updated regularly. Codes should be reviewed at least every five years following publication and updated at least every ten years.

A key feature of NFACC’s Code development process is the Scientific Committee. It is widely accepted that animal welfare Codes, guidelines, standards or legislation should take advantage of the best available research. 

A Scientific Committee review of priority animal welfare issues for the species being addressed provided valuable information to the Code Development Committee in developing this Code of Practice. The Scientific Committee report is peer reviewed and publicly available, enhancing the transparency and credibility of the Code.

The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs: Review of scientific research on priority issues developed by the pig Code of Practice Scientific Committee is available on NFACC’s website (www.nfacc.ca).

Introduction

Canada’s pork producers are leaders in the Canadian agriculture industry when it comes to developing protocols that demonstrate their collective commitment to both animal care and welfare, as well as to food safety. In 2005 the Canadian Pork Council (CPC) launched its Animal Care Assessment (ACATM) program which was based on the existing Code of Practice, as an independent, voluntary assessment tool for producers to promote and demonstrate responsible pork production. ACATM is a way for producers to say what they do, do what they say, and prove it. 

Nearly a decade before producers started to verify their commitment to animal care and welfare through ACATM, the pork industry took the lead in food safety with the launch of its Canadian Quality Assurance (CQA®) program in 1998. Through CQA®, on-farm practices are controlled and monitored using a powerful tool based on internationally recognized principles. As a market requirement, CQA® enrollment and compliance is a critical component of any commercial hog production facility.

Effective January 1, 2012, ACATM became a requirement under the CQA® program. The integration of the two programs demonstrates that Canadian pork producers are committed to both food safety and animal care. 

This Code of Practice will play an important role in the pork industry’s ongoing efforts to assess animal care on Canadian pig farms. The Code will guide the review and update of the Canadian Pork Council’s ACATM program. 

The Requirements and Recommended Practices in this document represent a challenging balance between animal welfare and the abilities of producers to effect change in an economically viable way. As the Code development process involved representatives with diverse interests, not all parties fully agree with every requirement and recommendation. However, all members agree that this document represents the best achievable balance.

As a guiding principle, Requirements are intended to be outcome- or animal-based, as they are most directly linked to animal welfare, and can be applied in a wide range of animal production systems. Since Requirements will often state the necessary outcome, the producer has the flexibility to determine how the outcomes can be achieved using individual management and husbandry practices. Recommended Practices encourage continuous improvement in animal care. However, failure to implement Recommended Practices does not imply that acceptable standards of animal care are not being met.

This Code does not apply to associated industries such as AI boar stud farms, meat processing, or transportation beyond the farm gate.

Glossary

Ad Libitum: Allowing pigs to eat an unlimited amount of feed.

Adjustable Crates: Individual farrowing units that allow the height, width and/or length to be adjusted to accommodate sows of various ages/sizes.

All-In/All-Out: A production system whereby animals are moved into and out of facilities and/or between production phases in distinct groups.

Analgesic: An agent that alleviates pain without loss of consciousness.

Anesthetic: An agent that induces loss of feeling or sensation, especially the loss of pain sensation. Used during surgery or a painful procedure (e.g. castration). Examples include lidocaine (local anesthetic), isoflurane (general anesthetic).

Animal Welfare: How an animal is coping physically, physiologically and psychologically with the conditions in which it lives. Physically includes pain and injury; physiologically includes environmental or disease stressors; and psychologically includes stressors that affect the senses, especially those that result in fear, fighting, distress or stereotypic behaviours due to either frustration or boredom. Animal welfare refers to the state of the animal; the treatment that an animal receives is covered by other terms such as animal care, animal husbandry, and humane treatment.

Anti-Crush Rails: Rails or bars included in farrowing crates that slow the speed at which a sow lies down, allowing the piglets to move and avoid being crushed.

Boar Taint: Unpleasant taste and smell that results from an accumulation of androstenone and skatole in the fat of uncastrated male pigs; it is detected when cooking meat from these pigs.

Boar: Sexually mature male intended for use in breeding over the weight of 135kg (300lbs).

Body Condition Score (BCS): A five-point scoring system used to classify the condition of pigs, based on the amount of fat and/or muscle.

Captive Bolt: Refer to “Non-Penetrating Captive Bolt” and “Penetrating Captive Bolt”.

Castration: A process which renders a male infertile which may be achieved by various methods depending on the species, including surgical removal of the testes, immune suppression of hormones, or cutting off blood circulation to the testes. (Only surgical or immuno-suppressive methods may be used for pigs.)

Colostrum: Milk secreted by the sow for the first few days after farrowing, characterised by high protein and antibody content.

Compromised Animal: An animal that has a reduced capacity to withstand the stress of transportation for various reasons (e.g. injury, fatigue, infirmity, poor health, distress, very young or very old age, impending birth). Transportation with special provisions will not lead to undue suffering.

Creep Area: Separate area within a farrowing crate in which piglets are protected from crushing or overlying by the sow, and which is usually heated. 

Creep Feed: A highly palatable, nutritious feed fed to piglets while they are suckling the sow.

Cross-Fostering: Permanent removal of piglets from a large litter to a sow with a smaller litter of similar age piglets.

Distressed Pigs: Pigs that are stressed beyond what would be deemed normal for a given situation, as evidenced by any one or a combination of the following signs: difficulty breathing/open-mouth breathing or gasping; patchy skin discolouration; high body temperature; stiffness; reluctance to move (no other visible abnormalities); inability to rise; trembling.

Dynamic Group/Dynamic Mixing: Groups of gestating sows in which animals are added and/or removed at regular intervals.

Effective Temperature: The temperature that pigs feel in their own immediate surroundings. The temperature at pig level may differ several degrees from that measured at higher levels.

Enrichment: A way of changing the environment of pigs to their benefit.

Euthanasia: Greek word meaning “good death”. The process of ending the life of an individual animal in a way that minimizes or eliminates pain and distress, which is considered tantamount to the humane termination of an animal’s life. 

Farrowing Crate: An enclosure closely related to the sow’s body size, in which sows are kept individually during and after farrowing.

Farrowing: Giving birth to piglets.

Finisher: Pigs that are generally above 70kg (154lbs) live weight, until they are marketed or retained for breeding. The same meaning applies for pigs referred to as “Finishing”.

First Parity Sow: A sow that has farrowed once.

Flight Zone: The distance from an animal at which it will choose to move away from an approaching handler.

Foster: Refer to “Cross-Fostering”.

Genetic Selection: Intentional breeding for specific traits.

Gestation Stalls: Refer to “Stall”.

Gilt: A young female pig, selected for reproductive purposes, before she has given birth to piglets.

Grouping: The process of combining individual pigs or sows, or smaller groups of established pigs or sows together. 

Grower: Pigs generally with live weights of between 30-40kg (66-88lbs) and 70kg (154lbs). The same meaning can apply for pigs referred to as “Growing”.

Growing/Finishing, Grower/Finisher: The phase of production between nursery and market.

Husbandry: Care and management practices in pig farming.

Immuno-Castration: A method of castration which is reversible and non-painful. Accomplished by immunizing against sex hormones, with the effect of moderating aggressive behaviours in males, minimizing development of secondary sex characteristics and inhibiting fertility. Antibodies are delivered via a needle given twice during the production phase.

Insensible/Insensibility: The point at which an animal no longer has the ability to feel pain or perceive and respond to its environment (e.g. light).

k – Value: The value derived from a formula that relates body weight to body surface area. When multiplied by a pig’s body weight (kg), k-value gives the floor surface area in m2. The formula is: A = k x BW0.667, where:

  • A = floor surface area in m2
  • k-value = floor space allowance coefficient
  • BW = pig body weight in kg.

Lactating Sow: A sow that has given birth, and is producing milk to feed her piglets.

Lateral Lying Position: A resting position in which pigs lie on their sides with all legs extended. This position uses more floor space than the sternal lying position, which is described as lying upright on the chest.

Mated Gilt: A young female pig that has been mated, but has not had a first litter.

Micro-Climate: The environmental condition (e.g. temperature) that an individual pig feels, which may be different than the environmental conditions in the surrounding area (e.g. pen; barn).

Morbidity: State of being diseased, ill, injured or sick.

Non-Ambulatory: Animals unable to stand without assistance or move without being dragged or carried, regardless of size or age. Also known as “downers”.

Non-Penetrating Captive Bolt: A specially designed device that propels a blunt, mushroom-shaped bolt with great force against the forehead of the animal which, when applied in the correct position, causes an immediate loss of sensibility. This procedure may be reversible.

Nursery Pigs: A pig after it has been weaned from the sow, up to approximately between 30-40kg
(66-88lbs) in live weight. Also referred to as a “Weaner” or “Weanling”.

Nursery: The facility where weaned pigs are housed until they move to the next phase of production.

Pain Control: Alleviating pain, usually through medication (see “Analgesic” and “Anesthetic”).

Pathogen: A disease-causing agent of an infectious nature, such as a bacterium or virus.

Pen: An enclosure in which pigs are housed where they can turn around, and which may be used for housing pigs in groups, housing boars individually, management purposes such as mating or farrowing, or for housing pigs individually.

Penetrating Captive Bolt: A specially designed device used for stunning and euthanasia that, when applied in the correct position, causes immediate loss of sensibility and results in irreversible brain injury and death.

Persistent Bullying: Enduring aggression of a pig by one or more other pigs to the extent that it compromises the welfare of the bullied pig.

Piglet: A pig up to the time it is weaned from the sow.

Point of Balance: Located at the animal’s shoulder. Used by handlers to control the movement of pigs.

Reproductive Cycle: The period from farrowing to the following farrowing.

Ridgling: A male pig with one or both testes undescended. Also known as cryptochid.

Rooting: Behaviour of pigs whereby they use their noses to dig in the ground or in any available material.

Sedative: An agent that calms nervousness, irritability and excitement by depressing the central
nervous system. 

Social Hierarchy: The order whereby individuals establish their dominance position within a group
of pigs.

Sow: An adult female pig, which has had one or more litters.

Split Suckling: Removal of the larger piglets in a litter from the dam for a short period within 24 hours after birth to allow the smaller piglets access to the dam. Also referred to as “split nursing”.

Stable Group: Groups of pigs which have an established social hierarchy (they have been together for some time) with no new pigs being added or removed.

Stall: An enclosure, closely related to the pig’s body size, in which gilts, sows and boars are kept individually. Stalls are normally joined together in rows and may be used for total confinement or allow the pig free choice of access.

Stereotypies: Abnormal, repetitive and unvarying behaviours caused by known factors such as frustration, coping attempts, or dysfunction of the central nervous system.

Stockperson: A person who undertakes the immediate day-to-day husbandry tasks associated with looking after pigs.

Tethering: A method of restraining pigs whereby a neck or girth collar is attached to a short length of chain, which is in turn fixed to the floor or the front of a pen.

Thermal Regulation: Maintenance of a constant internal body temperature independent from the environmental temperature.

Unfit Animal: An animal with reduced capacity to withstand transportation and where there is a high risk that transportation will lead to undue suffering. Unfit animals, if transported, would endure unjustified and unreasonable suffering.

Veterinarian/Client/Patient Relationship (VCPR): A VCPR exists when all of the following conditions have been met:

  • the veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the animal(s) and the need for medical treatment, and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s instructions
  • the veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal(s). This means that the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal(s) by virtue of an examination of the animal(s) or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal(s) are kept
  • the veterinarian is readily available for follow-up evaluation, or has arranged for emergency coverage, in the event of adverse reactions or failure of the treatment regimen.

Vices: Persistent behaviour that usually indicates that the well-being of the pigs has been compromised. Vices may result in self-injury or the injury of other animals. Examples include tail and ear biting, belly nosing, snout rubbing.

Weaner/Weanling: A pig after it has been weaned from the sow, up until approximately 30-40kg
(66-88lbs) in live weight. Also referred to as a “nursery pig”.

Weaning: The act of permanently separating piglets from the sow.

Section 1  Housing and Handling Facilities

1.1 Housing Systems

Housing systems need to provide adequate space, good ventilation and appropriate temperature, all of which are interrelated. Housing for pigs needs to provide for their comfort at all times. Facilities need to allow for the safe, efficient and humane movement of pigs.

REQUIREMENTS

Housing systems and their components must be designed, constructed and regularly inspected and maintained in a manner that reduces the potential for injury, provides suitable temperatures (refer to Table 1.1), fresh air, and clean conditions, and allows for inspection of all pigs.

Emergency plans must be developed to ensure that alternative means of temperature regulation, ventilation, feeding, and watering of pigs are available in the event of a power failure, mechanical breakdown, or other emergency situation.

Pigs must not be tethered as part of their normal housing systems.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. investigate the cause of injuries to pigs and determine whether the design, construction or condition of the facility is the source of the injuries. Repair as necessary
  2. develop and follow a facility maintenance program
  3. design and construct alleyways and hallways in such a way that pigs can be easily moved. 

1.1.1 Gilts Prior to Breeding

Aggression within groups cannot be completely eliminated, but it can be managed to protect vulnerable gilts and first-parity sows (1).

Gilts that are regrouped three or four times before 5 months of age may experience less aggression than gilts with fewer prior experiences of regrouping (2). 

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. house gilts in groups prior to breeding.

Through science and innovation, the Canadian pig industry is committed to full adoption of group housing designs/systems that offer more freedom of movement for sows.

The industry will continue to investigate feasible housing systems that allow sows greater freedom of movement through all stages, and that reduce the need for stalls during gestation.

1.1.2 Gestating Gilts and Sows

In well-managed and designed housing systems, it is possible to achieve equal or better productivity and health in group housing systems compared to individual gestation stalls (2). Group sizes, feeding systems, and mixing practices (i.e. stable group v. dynamic group) influence sow welfare in group housing.

Sows housed in stalls can show an increased incidence of behaviours that indicate stress (2) (e.g. bar-biting, sham-chewing, excessive drinking). 

Due to the inherent aggressive nature of sows, a combination of group housing with a short period of stall housing can assist in minimizing injuries, improving body condition, and can facilitate confirming pregnancy after breeding.

When using gestation stalls, it is critical that pregnant gilts and sows are kept in stalls that are appropriate to the size of the individual animal. Conventional gestation stalls (58-60cm [22.8-23.6in]) may not be wide enough for larger sows to lie laterally, especially towards the end of the gestation period (2).

Exercise during gestation can improve the farrowing performance of sows (3).

REQUIREMENTS

For all holdings newly built or rebuilt or brought into use for the first time after July 1, 2014, mated gilts and sows must be housed in groups. Individual stalls may be used for up to 28 days after the date of last breeding and an additional period of up to 7 days is permitted to manage grouping. Time in stalls can only be extended to protect the welfare of individual sows on the advice of a competent stockperson.

All new installations and replacements of existing individual stalls that occur after July 1, 2014, must be sized appropriately to allow sows to:

  • stand up at rest in a stall without simultaneously touching both sides of the stall
  • lie down without their udders protruding into adjacent stalls
  • stand up without touching the top bars
  • stand in a stall without simultaneously touching both ends of the stall.

As of July 1, 2024, mated gilts and sows must be housed:

  • in groups*; or
  • in individual pens; or
  • in stalls, if they are provided with the opportunity to turn around or exercise periodically, or other means that allow greater freedom of movement. Suitable options will be clarified by the participating stakeholders by July 1, 2019, as informed by scientific evidence.

* If housed in groups, individual stalls may be used for up to 28 days after the date of last breeding, and an additional period of up to 7 days is permitted to manage grouping.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. house gilts and sows in groups and manage feeding, space allowance, and enrichment in such a way so as to minimize aggression
  2. group gilts and sows by size; since first-parity sows are closer in size to gilts, consider grouping gilts and first-parity sows together
  3. distribute the feed widely or in such a way so as to ensure that all sows in the group have access to sufficient feed in systems where protection during feeding is not available
  4. manage gilts and sows that have lost body condition as separate groups or individually
  5. remove sows that are suffering from persistent bullying to a different accommodation
  6. refer to Appendix A – Guidelines for Determining Individual Stall Sizes for Gestating Gilts and Sows.

1.1.3 Nursing Sows with Piglets

Sows may be stressed when they are introduced to the farrowing crates or pens close to the time of farrowing and/or if sows are moved to crates from loose housing systems (4). Sows are highly motivated to nest-build around the time of farrowing (4) and nest-building behaviour before farrowing can lower the risk of piglet crushing (4). However, it is recognized that more research is required on how nesting materials can be used in existing commercial settings that utilize slatted floors.

Farrowing crates help reduce crushing of piglets during and soon after farrowing. Producers are encouraged to consider systems that permit sows the opportunity for more freedom of movement after 5-10 days of lactation as close restriction of the sow beyond this time is of little or no benefit to the litter.

Ensuring sows are housed in appropriately sized farrowing crates is important for the welfare of the sows, and can be one factor in preventing sores.

REQUIREMENTS

The length of a farrowing crate must allow the sow enough room to move forward and backward, and to lie down unhindered by a raised trough or rear gate.

When standing in a normal position in a farrowing crate, the sow must not touch both sides of the crate (not including anti-crush rails) simultaneously, and her back must not touch any bars along the top.

Sows must not be kept in farrowing crates for more than 6 weeks in any one reproductive cycle except in exceptional circumstances (e.g. when a sow is required to foster a second litter).

The farrowing system must provide an area to which the piglets can retreat when the sow moves.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. introduce sows to clean farrowing quarters 3-5 days prior to expected farrowing
  2. provide bedding/nesting material for sows at least 48 hours prior to expected farrowing unless it is not technically feasible for the manure management system
  3. procure adjustable crates when replacing farrowing crates, renovating and/or building housing facilities
  4. adjust crates to provide the sow with more space from 5-10 days after farrowing when using crates and when possible
  5. ensure that an unobstructed area behind the sow is available to facilitate natural or assisted farrowing.

1.1.4 Post Farrowing/Weaned Sows

From weaning to mating, sows can be kept in individual stalls or in groups. The stress associated with weaning, drying off and then entering the estrus cycle within a few days, coupled with the aggression associated with mixing, makes group housing a challenge for producers, and can negatively impact sow welfare if not properly managed.

1.1.5 Weaned (Nursery) Pigs and Grower/Finisher Pigs

A warm, dry, clean and draft-free environment is critical for newly weaned pigs. Most nurseries in Canada need to be equipped with supplemental heating. Grower/finisher pigs that have been housed in large groups (i.e. >80-100 pigs) tend to be less aggressive when mixed with unfamiliar pigs than pigs housed in smaller groups (i.e. 20) (5).

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. protect weaned pigs from drafts and air speeds over 0.25m/s (50ft/minute)
  2. provide supplemental heat to achieve recommended temperatures. Refer to Section 1.4 – Environmental Management: Temperature, Ventilation and Air Quality.

1.1.6 Boars

Boars may be kept on their own, in small groups, or with a group of breeding gilts or sows; however, boars are usually housed individually. Boars that are kept on their own are normally taken out several times a week for heat detection or mating purposes and receive social enrichment from this activity. Where boars are kept in groups, they need to be compatible.

REQUIREMENTS

Boars must be able to stand, lie down, and adopt normal resting postures without undue interference.

For all holdings newly built or brought into use for the first time after July 1, 2014, boars must be provided with sufficient space so that they can stand, turn around, and lie comfortably in a natural position.

As of July 1, 2024, boars must be housed

  • in individual pens; or
  • in stalls, if they are provided with the opportunity to turn around or exercise periodically, or other means that allows greater freedom of movement. Suitable options will be clarified by the participating stakeholders by July 1, 2019, as informed by scientific evidence.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. house boars in pens. These pens should be large enough for them to easily turn around
  2. construct pens in such a way that allows for boars’ visual contact with other pigs
  3. ensure each stall can be opened from the front and the back for easy movement.

1.2 Space Allowances

Space allowances need to meet the movement and social needs of the pigs, and depend on the interaction of a number of factors, including feeding strategies, group size, age, breed, temperature, insulation, ventilation, pen shape, flooring, lighting, and other husbandry factors.

1.2.1 Sow Space Allowances

In group housing systems, floor space affects sow welfare, health and productivity.

REQUIREMENTS

All group housed sows must be able to stand, move about and lie down without interference with each other in a way that compromises welfare, and space must be provided for separation of dunging from lying and eating areas.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. keep mated gilts and sows at no less than the minimum space allowance that is provided as guidance in Appendix B – Recommended Minimum Floor Space Allowances for Gilts and Sows in Group Housing. There are variations in the amount of space required based on feeding systems, group sizes, flooring, etc.
  2. increase the space allowance if persistent bullying and aggression occur.

1.2.2 Weaned/Grower/Finisher Pig Space Allowances

When calculating space allowances for pigs, a formula that relates body weight to body surface area is used. Floor space allowance is expressed using a k-value, which, when multiplied by a pig’s body weight (kg) 0.667, gives the floor surface area in m2. The optimal k-value may change according to temperature, type of flooring and group size.

Performance of nursery and growing/finishing pigs is negatively affected when k < 0.0335 (2). At k < 0.039, growing/finishing pigs alter normal resting behaviours (2).

REQUIREMENTS

Pigs must be housed at a space allowance of k ≥ 0.0335. When a short-term decrease in space allowance is needed at the end of the production phase:

  • a decrease of up to 15% for nursery pigs and up to 10% for grower/finisher pigs is allowed
  • a decrease of up to 20% for nursery pigs and up to 15% for grower/finisher pigs is allowed only if it is demonstrated that the higher densities do not compromise the welfare of the animals as determined by average daily gain, mortality, morbidity and treatment records, as well as the absence of or no increase in vices such as tail-biting.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. increase space allowances so that all pigs can lie laterally at the same time. Refer to Appendix C – Floor Space Allowances for Weaned/Nursery Pigs and Appendix D – Floor Space Allowances for Grower/Finisher Pigs.

1.2.3 Boar Space Allowances

Boars are usually housed individually. Boar stalls need to provide enough room for boars to stand and to lie down comfortably.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. refer to Appendix E – Recommended Minimum Space Allowances for Boars.

1.3 Facilities for Sick and Injured Pigs

Sick or injured pigs often benefit from being segregated in an area where they can recuperate without having to compete with healthy pen mates for food, water and comfortable lying areas.

REQUIREMENTS

Every pig production facility must have the ability to segregate sick or injured pigs in a separate area where the necessary treatment can be administered.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. design facilities for sick and injured pigs in such a manner so as to improve pigs’ chances of recovery. For example, facilities for sick and injured pigs should allow sick animals to spend large amounts of time resting in a warm place
  2. provide an enhanced comfort zone that is conducive to recovery (e.g. bedding, rubber mats, supplemental heat, additional space, easy access to fresh feed and water, etc.)
  3. locate the facilities for sick and injured pigs in a warm area where there are no drafts, preferably in areas where pigs can be observed more frequently
  4. provide sufficient lighting to ensure thorough inspection of the animals
  5. provide non-slip flooring in facilities for sick and injured pigs
  6. use bedding or rubber mats for those pigs showing signs of lameness.

1.4 Environmental Management: Temperature, Ventilation and Air Quality

The effective environmental temperature, or the temperature that the pig actually feels in its own immediate surroundings, depends on many factors such as air temperature, air movement, humidity, flooring material, bedding/dryness of the floor, size of pig, group size, feed type and intake, and health status. The temperature at pig level may differ several degrees from that measured at higher levels.

For newborn piglets, managing heat loss is critical.

The ability to control air quality is important for pigs’ health, welfare and comfort. Gases, dust, moisture and microorganisms can be produced from the animals and from manure decomposition, feeds, and building materials. The gases of most concern in swine facilities are ammonia, hydrogen sulfide, carbon monoxide, and methane (6). Causes for high ammonia levels include insufficient ventilation, dirty floors, and a high ventilation rate that stirs up ammonia from the pit.

REQUIREMENTS

Environmental control systems must be designed, constructed and maintained in a manner that allows for temperatures, fresh air, and hygienic conditions that promote health and welfare for pigs.

Newborn piglets must be housed at temperatures that will assist them to reach and maintain normal body temperatures.

Reasonable steps must be taken to help prevent and manage housed pigs from becoming overheated or cold stressed.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. maintain air circulation, dust levels, temperature, relative humidity, and gas concentrations in such a way that is beneficial for the health and welfare of pigs
  2. protect pigs from wide or abrupt temperature fluctuations
  3. monitor pig behaviour frequently during extreme weather for indicators of thermal discomfort
  4. aim to provide the optimal temperatures appropriate for the size/production phase of pigs. Refer to Table 1.1 for optimum temperatures for housed swine of all ages
  5. ensure that separate temperature needs of lactating sows and piglets are met:
    • aim for a temperature range of 18°C (64°F) to 20°C (68°F) post-farrowing in the farrowing room as a whole. Higher temperatures may be appropriate during farrowing to ensure that newborn piglets are not chilled and maintain body heat
    • provide supplemental heat of up to 34°C (93°F) in creep areas for piglets
  6. increase the effective temperature for the first 4-5 days post-weaning. Refer to Table 1.1
  7. maintain adequate air quality and ventilation at all times (ammonia levels < 25 ppm). Take corrective action immediately to reduce ammonia levels if they exceed 25 ppm at pig level
  8. develop protocols that allow manure to be drained with a minimum release of noxious gases.

Table 1.1 – Optimum temperatures for housed swine of all ages as measured at pig level (7)

AnimalOptimum Temperature*
°C (°F)
Desirable Limits*
°C (°F)
Creep areas for newborn piglets35 (95)32-38 (89-100)
Creep areas for older suckling piglets (2-5kg [4-11lbs])30 (85)27-32 (81-89)
Young pigs (4-5 days post-weaning)135 (95)33-37 (91-99)
Young pigs (5-20kg [11-44lbs]) in weaned pens27 (80)24-30 (75-86)
Growing pigs (20-55kg [44-121lbs])21 (70)16-27 (61-81)
Finishing pigs (55-110kg [121-243lbs])18 (65)10-24 (50-75)
Gestating sows18 (65)10-27 (50-81)
Lactating sows18 (65)13-27 (55-81)
Boars18 (65)10-27 (50-81)
* Stated temperatures reflect the desired temperature in the environment directly around the pig, and not necessarily the overall temperature of the barn. Supplementary heat sources (e.g. heated mats) can be used to achieve desired temperatures.

1.5 Lighting

Continuous lighting, particularly very bright lighting, as well as continuous dark conditions have negative effects on pig welfare (8). When awake, pigs prefer a lit environment, but prefer to sleep in the dark. Generally speaking, light in which a newspaper can be read is considered sufficient.

Piglets and weanling pigs may benefit from additional hours of light in order to locate food sources (8). Leaving lights on for piglets during the first 24 hours post weaning will facilitate the initiation of feeding.

REQUIREMENTS

Sufficient lighting must be available to permit thorough inspection of pigs and facilities at any time, and for normal husbandry practices.

A minimum of 50 lux of lighting (described as bright enough to allow a person of normal sight to read standard newspaper print) must be provided for a minimum of 8 hours per day.

Pigs must have access to a darkened area (i.e. ~5 lux or less, with the exception of heat devices in farrowing areas and the first 48 hours for newly weaned pigs) for at least 6 consecutive hours per day (9).

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. match the intensity/location of the lighting to the purpose of the area that the lighting affects
  2. provide lighting in a range of 150-250 lux in handling facilities.

1.6 Flooring and Bedding Management

Flooring can impact animal health, comfort, and productivity, and if improperly designed and/or maintained, can contribute to injuries.

Bedding can provide a combination of potential benefits to sows and growing pigs such as thermal regulation, physical comfort, environmental enrichment and nutrition (10). Bedding can also be used by sows to build nests (10).

Mats may improve the welfare of sows and piglets in farrowing crates and are believed to offer similar comfort levels to those associated with straw, but do not provide pigs with the same ability to control their own micro-climate when compared to loose bedding materials.

REQUIREMENTS

Flooring must be designed and maintained to minimize slipping.

Flooring must be designed, constructed and maintained in a manner that does not cause injury or suffering to pigs standing or lying on them, and must contribute to pig comfort.

Where bedding is provided, it must be clean, dry, and not harmful to the pigs.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. ensure that gap widths for slatted floors are appropriate for the sizes of pigs and that the slat widths maximize the contact area with the soles of pigs’ feet
  2. slope solid floors to promote drainage
  3. incorporate skid-resistant grooves for ramps that slope more than 10% and for concrete breeding floors and other floors to prevent slipping and falling
  4. finish concrete floors on which pigs walk with texture to provide traction when wet
  5. keep the lying area dry. Where bedding is used, provide sufficient amounts of bedding and top up as needed
  6. remove soiled and wet bedding frequently in order to provide a clean living space to pigs
  7. check the source of sawdust and wood shavings to ensure that it does not come from wood that has been chemically treated (e.g. pentachlorophenol).

1.7 Feeding/Watering Areas

Feeders need to provide pigs with access to feed for each stage of production and need to meet the needs of both the smallest and largest animals in the pen.

REQUIREMENTS

Feeders and waterers must be constructed, located, and maintained in a way that makes them available for use by all pigs in that area.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. provide sufficient feeder space to allow for adequate headroom and to accommodate the size of the pigs. Refer to Appendix F – Feeder Design
  2. provide sufficient feeder space to accommodate a maximum of 13-18 pigs/feeder space
  3. use tray dividers to prevent small pigs from getting in the feeder in nursery pens
  4. keep feeders clean
  5. maintain feeders so that there are no rough edges
  6. position waterers over slatted floors in partially slatted pens
  7. adjust flow rates on nipple waterers according to the age and size of pigs in the pen. Refer to Appendix G – Water Intake, Recommended Flow Rate and Height of Nipple Drinkers.

1.8 Enrichment

Enrichment improves animal welfare by enhancing animals’ physical or social environments. Enrichment goals include (11):

  • increase the number and range of normal behaviours
  • prevent the development of abnormal behaviours, or reduce the frequency or severity
  • increase positive utilization of the environment (e.g. use of space) and
  • increase the animal’s ability to cope with behavioural and physiological challenges.

Environments for pigs can be enhanced through methods that span several categories (11):

  • social enrichment – involves either direct or indirect (visual, olfactory, auditory) contact with other pigs
  • occupational enrichment – encompasses both psychological enrichment that provides animals with control or challenges (e.g. devices) and enrichment that encourages exercise
  • physical enrichment – can involve altering the animals’ enclosures or adding accessories such as objects, substrate or permanent structures (e.g. nest boxes)
  • sensory enrichment – visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile and taste stimuli
  • nutritional enrichment – involves either presenting varied or novel food types or changing the method of food delivery.

Pigs are initially attracted to materials that are odorous, deformable, and chewable, but for sustained enrichment, the best materials are complex, changeable, malleable, destructible, and are ingestible or contain sparsely distributed edible parts (11).

Enrichment materials and objects need to be monitored to ensure that they do not cause health problems (e.g. strangulation, choking, poisoning, obstruction of the digestive tract, transmission of pathogens) or compromise food safety (11). While straw is recognized as a premium source of enrichment, it poses challenges to manure management systems.

Enrichment strategies, such as providing objects suitable for chewing and rooting, can deter pigs from harmful social behaviour such as ear and tail-biting (12) and from engaging in stereotypies such as belly nosing and sham chewing (11).

Simple and inexpensive environmental enrichments such as suspended cloth strips or hoses and small amounts of increased positive contact with people will reduce both excitability and fighting in young pigs. Objects used for enrichment can quickly lose their novelty value, so it is unlikely that long-term use of the same object will continue to satisfy pigs’ enrichment needs.

REQUIREMENTS

Pigs must be provided with multiple forms of enrichment that aim to improve the welfare of the animals through the enhancement of their physical and social environments.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. provide continual access to a range of novel suspended toys such as cloth strips or rubber, or straw dispensers, along with free toys on the pen floor in housing where the use of substrates may impede manure management systems. Refer to Appendix H – The Six Ss: Simple Criteria for Choosing Enrichment for Pigs
  2. provide some type of physical enrichment such as straw, hay, wood, sawdust, mushroom compost, peat or a mixture of such that does not adversely affect the health of the animals and when it can be safely used.

1.9 Outdoor Housing

Due to its climate, most areas in Canada are unsuitable for year-round outdoor production.

It is critical that suitable conditions be maintained in outdoor shelters that are not equipped with supplemental heat or mechanical ventilation.

REQUIREMENTS

Nose rings must not be used.

Pigs must have access to shelter that minimizes the effects of adverse weather and provides a dry resting area and shade.

A protocol must be developed and implemented that protects pigs from parasites and predators.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. choose outdoor sites carefully: land prone to flooding, poorly drained sites, stony soils and sites with heavy soils are not suitable for outdoor systems
  2. locate the outdoor facility to take advantage of existing windbreaks, or if not available, construct windbreak fences to control snow and wind in and around the facility
  3. select pigs for suitability for outdoor conditions
  4. develop and document a strategy for dealing with emergency situations such as water provision in freezing conditions and feed provision to the site in snow and severe wet weather
  5. protect pigs from cold drafts
  6. locate gates and doors for easy access with a loader to remove manure. Remove soiled and wet bedding from sleeping areas frequently to provide a clean living space to pigs
  7. protect feed in hoppers with covers
  8. provide outdoor pigs with opportunities for wallowing.

Section 2  Feed and Water

2.1 Nutrition and Feed Management

Correct feed management is necessary to ensure pigs’ varying nutritional needs are met throughout the production process (i.e. maintenance, growth, reproduction or lactation).

Nutritionists can provide specific information on the appropriate types of feed ingredients to include in diets based on availability, price, and feeding value.

Measures to satisfy appetite as well as nutritional needs are important for pig welfare.

REQUIREMENTS

Pigs must be provided with daily access to feed that maintains their health and meets their physiological requirements.

Pigs must be fed a diet which is appropriate to their species, age, and production phase.

Feed must be provided in such a way so as to prevent competition resulting in injury or excessive weight variation within the group.

Corrective action must be taken if there is a significant reduction of feed intake.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. check feeders daily to ensure they are functioning properly
  2. where pigs are limit fed, provide enough space for all pigs to eat simultaneously. Where pigs are fed sequentially, provide complete protection. Refer to Appendix F – Feeder Design
  3. ensure that pigs are able to find feed and water when introducing them to unfamiliar housing
  4. take remedial action if persistent bullying is leading to deprivation from food
  5. develop contingency plans to provide an alternate means of obtaining and delivering feed in case of supply failure or delays in delivery
  6. store feed in a clean location and clean feed bins regularly
  7. use feeder trays made of an easily cleaned material (13). Clean as needed.

2.1.1 Nursing Piglets

It is essential that new-born piglets receive an adequate amount of colostrum from the sow, as soon as possible after birth, and within 12 hours, when their digestive tracts are still able to absorb the proteins that give immunological protection.

Producers can use strategies such as split suckling (removal of the larger pigs in a litter from the dam for a short period within 24 hours after birth to allow the smaller piglets access to the dam) and cross-fostering (permanent removal of piglets from a large litter to a sow with a smaller litter of similar age piglets). It is important that cross-fostering occur before teat order is established.

REQUIREMENTS

All piglets must have access to colostrum as soon as possible after birth, and within 12 hours.

Piglets at risk of dying from inadequate nourishment must be cross-fostered, split suckled, hand-reared or euthanized. Refer to Section 6 – Euthanasia.

Creep feed must be provided to nursing piglets after 28 days of age to help maintain sow body condition.

Supplemental iron must be administered to piglets reared indoors to prevent nutritional anemia.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. ensure all piglets receive adequate milk or opportunity to suckle. This may involve strategies such as split suckling or carefully managed cross-fostering
  2. administer an energy supplement (e.g. freshly thawed colostrum), when necessary, to weaker piglets and those at risk because of size or birth order
  3. provide a highly palatable creep feed to nursing piglets prior to weaning to assist with transitioning to the nursery
  4. utilize watering systems that are appropriate for the size of piglets.

2.1.2 Newly Weaned Pigs: First Week

The change from liquid sow’s milk to a dry starter diet is challenging for piglets. Newly weaned pigs have very little body reserves and must get established on nursery feed as quickly as possible. Feed needs to be readily accessible, available frequently, fresh, and highly palatable.

REQUIREMENTS

All newly weaned pigs must have continuous access to fresh feed and feeder design must be appropriate for the size of the pigs.

All newly weaned pigs must be observed frequently in the period following weaning to ensure that all are eating.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. use feeding trays or floor-feeding in addition to feeders until pigs are eating readily from the feeder (3-4 days after weaning)
  2. separate newly weaned pigs that are having difficulty adjusting to the new environment and/or show signs of inadequate feed intake (e.g. thin, gaunt, lethargic)
  3. moisten feed for newly weaned pigs that show signs of inadequate feed intake.

2.1.3 Nursery through Finish

Daily feed intake normally increases steadily between weaning and market weight.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. adjust rations frequently to meet the changing nutrient requirements of the pigs as they grow.

2.1.4 Boars

Controlling feed intake is important for boar optimal health and welfare.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. feed boars bulky or high fibre feed to satisfy appetite
  2. control feed intake; feed measured amounts.

2.1.5 Gestating and Farrowing Sows

Measures to satisfy appetite as well as nutritional needs are important for sow welfare. The amount of feed required will vary according to body condition (refer to Section 2.2), weight, and reproductive stage.

REQUIREMENTS

Sows must be fed daily to meet nutritional requirements.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. control feed intake; feed measured amounts
  2. feed sows some bulky or high fibre feed to satisfy appetite.

2.1.6 Lactating Sows

During lactation, sows are at risk for significant weight loss due to additional demands to produce milk for the piglets. Diets with a higher nutrient density are appropriate for this phase of production.

REQUIREMENTS

Feeding strategies must be developed and followed to minimize sow condition loss and optimize milk production.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICESS

  1. increase feed intake after farrowing to minimize weight loss during lactation
  2. feed 2 or more times daily, or ad libitum shortly after farrowing
  3. increase nutritional density for lactation.

2.2 Body Condition Scoring for Breeding Stock

Assessing body condition using a Body Condition Score (BCS) system is a useful management tool that helps to evaluate health and welfare, assess nutritional status, and optimize production. Typically, the 5-point BCS scale is used with a score of 1 referring to “too thin”, and a score of 5 referring to “too fat”, and 3 as “ideal”.

It is important to consistently assess sow body condition at critical points in the production cycle:

  • at weaning - sow is likely to be in her poorest condition. Condition at weaning can vary considerably
  • at service - it is important for sows to regain condition that may have been lost since farrowing and weaning
  • mid-gestation - helps to determine whether the feeding strategy is optimal, either for the individual sow, or for the herd as a whole. Allows for corrective action, if necessary, to be taken before farrowing
  • at farrowing - helps to assess whether the feeding strategy during gestation was successful in meeting the target condition.

REQUIREMENTS

Corrective action must be taken for animals at a BCS of less than 2 or more than 4 (see below).

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. establish and follow a BCS Plan which sets target scores for each phase of production and identifies the critical points at which corrective action is necessary. Consultation with qualified advisors can assist with developing target body condition scores
  2. regularly assess the BCS of sows. Score body condition of sows at service, mid-gestation, farrowing and at weaning. Refer to Appendix I – Sow Body Condition Scoring System
  3. aim for the following BCS targets, taking the genetic characteristics of the herd into account:
    • sows at farrowing: 3-3.5, with 80% scoring 31
    • lactating and weaned sows: 2.5-3.5
    • boars: 3 or 4
    • when the body condition score of gilts, sows and boars falls below 2.5, take remedial action to improve body condition
  4. regain BCS lost during lactation during the gestation phase
  5. cull sows/gilts/boars if remedial action fails to recover body condition to a score of 2 or above.
1.Adapted from Assessing Sow Body Condition (14) (refer to References).

2.3 Water

The provision of an adequate palatable and safe supply of water is critical for maintaining pig health and welfare. A pig’s daily consumption of water varies with factors such as environmental temperature, age, weight, reproductive stage (e.g. lactation), and diet. Herd hierarchy and social interaction can limit access of individual pigs to drinking water.

REQUIREMENTS

All pigs must have continual access to a supply of palatable water that is not harmful to health and in sufficient quantity to meet the needs of the animals.

Liquid feeding systems must be supplemented with a separate source of water that is palatable and safe.

Water must be tested at least annually to ensure its suitability for the animals and corrective actions must be taken as necessary.

A contingency plan to provide water in the event of an interruption or contamination of the supply of water to the animals must be established.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. monitor flow rates for all watering devices (e.g. nipples, bowls, troughs) to ensure that all pigs have access to adequate quantities of water. Refer to Appendix G – Water Intake, Recommended Flow Rate and Height of Nipple Drinkers
  2. design, allocate and position drinkers in such a way that the needs of all pigs can be met. Refer to Appendix G – Water Intake, Recommended Flow Rate and Height of Nipple Drinkers
  3. check water supply at least daily, and at least twice daily in hot or very cold weather, to ensure that the requirements of the pigs are being met.

Section 3  Animal Health

3.1 Relationship of Animal Health to Animal Welfare

Animal health is a key component of animal welfare. Factors that can affect animal health are nutrition, ventilation, housing, genetics and management practices. Pain and discomfort caused by health issues impact an animal’s well-being such that good animal welfare requires good animal health (15).

3.2 Herd Health Management Program

An effective Herd Health Management Program contributes to animal well-being by providing a strategy for disease prevention, rapid diagnosis and effective treatment. Prevention of disease rather than treatment of disease is better for animal welfare and is more economical for the producer. Many outbreaks of disease in swine herds can be avoided by using management practices that include strict sanitation and immunization programs (16).

A Herd Health Management Program should include:

  • vaccination protocols
  • observation of all animals for injury or signs of disease
  • complete, accurate and reliable record keeping
  • protocols for the prevention, detection and treatment of disease or injury, including setting targets for measuring incidences of disease and injuries
  • protocols for pest control
  • protocols for individual animal or group identification and treatment records
  • training programs and protocols for animal handlers
  • protocols for introducing new arrivals to the herd
  • protocols for managing sick and injured pigs
  • protocols for culling animals at the end of their production cycles
  • a record of deaths that occur on-farm for purposes of tracking mortality rates
  • protocols for on-farm biosecurity.

Veterinarians play a key role in helping producers to meet these animal health obligations. Having a good working relationship and a valid Veterinarian/Client/Patient Relationship (VCPR)1 with a swine veterinarian improves the health and welfare of pigs.

1.A Veterinarian/Client/Patient Relationship exists when all of the following conditions have been met (44):
• The veterinarian has assumed the responsibility for making clinical judgments regarding the health of the animal(s) and the need for medical treatment, and the client has agreed to follow the veterinarian’s instructions
• The veterinarian has sufficient knowledge of the animal(s) to initiate at least a general or preliminary diagnosis of the medical condition of the animal(s). This means that the veterinarian has recently seen and is personally acquainted with the keeping and care of the animal(s) by virtue of an examination of the animal(s) or by medically appropriate and timely visits to the premises where the animal(s) are kept
• The veterinarian is readily available for follow-up evaluation, or has arranged for emergency coverage, in the event of adverse reactions or failure of the treatment regimen.

REQUIREMENTS

A working relationship with a licensed veterinarian (VCPR) must be established.

A Herd Health Management Program must be developed in consultation with the herd veterinarian, and followed.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. keep newborn piglets, weanlings, growers/finishers and gestating animals separate
  2. ensure incoming breeding stock receives appropriate treatments for external and internal parasites
  3. ensure herd additions originate from sources of known health status
  4. target all-in/all-out
  5. quarantine incoming breeding stock.

3.2.1 Reportable/Notifiable Diseases

Animal owners, veterinarians and laboratories are required to immediately report the presence of an animal that is infected or suspected of being infected with a reportable disease to the appropriate federal or provincial authority.

For more information, refer to: Reportable Diseases, Immediately Notifiable and Annually Notifiable Diseases - A Guide for the Agri-Food Community and Laboratories.2

2.Canadian Food Inspection Agency web page www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/disemala/guidee.shtml.The Reportable Diseases Regulations (SOR/91-2) are accessible at: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-91-2/page-2.html

REQUIREMENTS

A veterinarian must be advised of any suspected reportable disease.

3.3 Sick and Injured Animals

Individual animals need to be assessed on an ongoing basis for illness and injuries. The comfort and humane treatment of sick or injured animals are priorities.

Pigs exhibiting signs of illness or injury need to be identified early and dealt with as soon as possible. The herd veterinarian can assist with determining what conditions can be treated effectively and humanely. Prompt decision-making and action are vital to ensure the welfare of sick and injured animals.

Producers may find value in benchmarking specific injuries as a percent of the total herd to establish targets. As examples, targeting 2% or less of pigs with lameness or shoulder ulcers could be used to measure the effectiveness of management practices.

REQUIREMENTS

A standard operating procedure that details protocols for the identification, care, and humane treatment of sick or injured pigs must be developed and implemented.

All pigs must be examined daily for sickness and/or injury.

Pigs that are sick or injured must be monitored at a frequency appropriate to their conditions, and at least daily.

Pigs that are sick, injured, in pain, or suffering must be promptly treated, or be euthanized, or if fit for human consumption, slaughtered on-farm. Refer to Appendix J – Example of Decision Tree for Euthanasia.

Behavioural problems (vices) such as tail-biting, belly nosing, sucking, aggression and fighting must be investigated to identify the possible environment, feed, management, or health factors causing the problem.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. move sick and injured pigs to a sick pen
  2. consult with the herd veterinarian regarding treatment
  3. document treatment of pigs to assist in the decision-making process regarding further treatment and/or euthanasia.

3.4 Skills Related to Animal Health and Welfare

Early recognition is important for managing disease. In addition to being competent in and knowledgeable about humane and effective methods of handling and moving pigs, stockpersons need to be competent in assessing animals for illnesses and injuries as well as in following procedures outlined in the farm’s Herd Health Management Program for dealing with sick and injured animals.

3.4.1 Recognizing Sickness Behaviour

Understanding sickness behaviour offers an important opportunity for managing swine health and improving animal welfare. Pigs that are sick differ from their healthy pen mates. There may be a reduction in the social interaction of ill pigs, and increases in huddling, shivering and resting behaviours (17).

REQUIREMENTS

Stockpersons must be knowledgeable of normal pig behaviour and signs of illness, injury and disease; or must work in conjunction with an experienced stockperson.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. participate in learning activities related to animal health and biosecurity
  2. ensure that stockpersons understand farm protocols and procedures for dealing with animals identified as being sick or injured.

3.5 On-Farm Surgery

In the event that surgery to correct specific conditions is required on-farm, guidance from a licensed veterinarian is critical.

REQUIREMENTS

Surgical procedures (e.g. hernia repair, cryptorchidectomy) other than elective husbandry procedures (refer to Section 4.5) must be performed in consultation with a veterinarian and using appropriate anesthesia and analgesia. Major surgical procedures (e.g. caesarian section) must only be performed by a licensed veterinarian.

Stockpersons who perform on-farm procedures must be competent in performing those procedures.

3.6 Farrowing

Sows and gilts need time to adjust to their farrowing stalls before farrowing.

Some sows and gilts need assistance during farrowing.

When farrowing is complete, the sow should appear comfortable and should not continue to strain. Sows should stand and drink in a few hours.

Sow health problems are most common during the first few days after farrowing, and sows need to be checked regularly (4 or 5 times per day) during this period. In some cases, a farrowing gilt or sow may snap at or injure piglets that approach her head during and after farrowing. Isolating the piglets and controlling the first few nursing periods is advised.

REQUIREMENTS

Sows must be observed frequently around their expected farrowing times.

Upon discovering sows in farrowing difficulty, prompt assistance must be provided.

Sows must be provided with continuous access to water post-farrowing.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. seek guidance from the herd veterinarian on how to recognize and manage difficult farrowings
  2. record breeding and expected farrowing dates
  3. observe sows during late pregnancy for indications that farrowing is imminent
  4. provide nest-building material to facilitate nesting behaviour
  5. ensure that the sow and farrowing facilities are clean prior to farrowing
  6. maintain calm surroundings during the farrowing process
  7. consult a veterinarian regarding the appropriate administration of antibiotics and/or analgesics following difficult births
  8. encourage sows to stand up 2-3 times daily starting the day after farrowing
  9. check sows and piglets at least twice daily for signs of disease, injury, or abnormal behaviour.

3.7 Newly Weaned Pigs

There are many factors to consider when determining when to wean piglets, including herd health, management practices, piglet size, birth weight, genetics, sow nutrition, litter size, and the facilities (18). Occasionally, it may be necessary to wean piglets earlier than optimal (e.g. piglets whose sow has died, is ill, or producing inadequate amounts of milk; cases in which the veterinarian recommends early weaning as a means of controlling a specific disease). Generally speaking, the younger the piglet at weaning, the more sophisticated the housing, management, and feeding systems need to be (19). Regardless of age, low weight piglets require additional care and can benefit from being kept in specialized pens until they are able to be moved to the common nursery area.

Newly weaned pigs are susceptible to disease challenges, so adherence to high-level hygiene protocols is important (19).

REQUIREMENTS

Weaning procedures that minimize negative impacts on the health and welfare of the piglets must be developed and followed.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. target an average weaning age of 3 weeks or older
  2. source weanlings only from reputable suppliers with known health status
  3. monitor all newly weaned pigs closely during the first 2 weeks after weaning for any signs of
    ill-health
  4. treat signs of ill-health promptly
  5. ensure that the area that piglets are weaned into is clean and dry.

3.8 Sanitation

Good sanitation practices help to reduce the incidence of disease.

At a minimum, a sanitation protocol that includes cleaning, washing, and disinfection needs to be applied annually in each production area of the barn. In between full sanitation applications, sanitation maintenance, such as scraping and sweeping, is important for pig health and cleanliness.

Facilities and management practices, and legislative requirements can vary from region to region and province to province.

REQUIREMENTS

A sanitation protocol must be developed for each production area of the barn and followed at least annually.

Manure must be removed and stored in a manner that promotes the health and welfare of the animals.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. ensure that facilities are cleaned thoroughly and disinfected prior to receiving new groups
  2. remove manure from alleys and pens to keep pigs clean
  3. maintain sanitary conditions for animals.

3.9 Pest Control

Rats and mice can be a major health threat around swine facilities. Flies and other insects can be both a nuisance and a disease vector. For more information, refer to the Biosecurity section in CQA® for Canadian Hog Producers. Refer to Appendix O – Resources for Further Information.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. learn to recognize signs of rodent infestations
  2. implement procedures to monitor and control pests
  3. eliminate or reduce the number of places rodents can use for shelter
  4. prevent clutter in and around buildings
  5. store feed in rodent-proof facilities
  6. make structures rodent-proof
  7. take steps to locate and eliminate insect breeding areas
  8. develop and follow an insect control program.

3.10 Emergency and Safety

Emergency management protocols provide for the welfare of pigs in the event of an emergency (e.g. power failure, fire, flooding, inclement weather).

REQUIREMENTS

Emergency plans must be developed to ensure that alternative means of temperature regulation, ventilation, feeding, and watering of pigs are available in the event of a power failure, mechanical breakdown, or other emergency situation.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. review emergency management protocols with stockpersons
  2. consider emergency management protocols when designing or renovating facilities
  3. ensure fire extinguishers are available in all buildings. Check annually for charge and working order.

Section 4  Husbandry Practices

4.1 Handling, Moving, Restraining and Treating Animals

Positive human contact is an important factor in animal well-being and productivity. Pigs with previous handling and moving experiences are easier to move (20).

Using pig behaviour is an effective way to move pigs. An important concept in handling all livestock is the “flight zone” (the distance from an animal at which it will choose to move away from an approaching handler) and the “point of balance”.

Pigs move best when handled in a group, and when they are following a leader or at least walking side-by-side with other pigs. Overcrowded pigs cannot easily turn around. Pigs may balk and refuse to move if they encounter shadows, puddles, bright spots, a change in flooring type or texture, drains, metal grates, or flapping objects (20). Moving people distract pigs (21).

When prodded, a pig will attempt to get away, either by running forward or by turning back to shelter among the group. Repeated electric prodding causes a pig’s heart rate to increase with each successive shock, and excessive prodding can kill pigs (20).

Individual pigs may need to be restrained on a temporary basis for veterinary purposes or other procedures.

REQUIREMENTS

Use humane moving devices when moving pigs (e.g. chase boards, shakers).

Electric prods must only be used as a last resort and never as the primary driving device. When necessary, use of prods must be restricted to the back and hind quarters on lead pigs, but never used in the anal and genital areas, and only when there is a clear path for them to move forward.

Electric prods must not be used in the finishing pen.

Electric prods must not be used on piglets, nursery, distressed, sick or injured pigs (refer to the Glossary for the definition of distressed).

Pigs must not be handled aggressively (e.g. kicked, walked on top of, picked up or suspended or pulled by one front leg, ears or tail).

Pigs that become distressed during handling must be attended to immediately.

Pigs must only be restrained for as long as necessary and only appropriate, well-maintained restraint devices must be used.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. aim for 0% of pigs being injured from handling, restraining, or moving pigs
  2. respect the pigs’ flight zone: never approach an unsuspecting animal through its blind spot. Refer to Appendix K – Pig Vision and Flight Zone
  3. move pigs in manageable groups that are small enough for the handler to be able to affect the lead pigs and that are appropriate for the facilities and the size of pigs. Always move pigs at a pace comfortable to the animal
  4. have non-essential people move out of the line of pigs’ sight when moving pigs
  5. walk through finishing pens periodically in a calm manner so that pigs become accustomed to people.

4.2 Stockmanship Skills Related to Animal Welfare

Ensuring stockpersons understand the behavioural principles of handling pigs such as flight zone and point of balance is an effective management tool on farms (22). The attitudes of handlers play an important role. Patience, timing, and being able to predict the movement of the animal are important animal handling qualities (22).

It is important that handlers understand and follow low-stress pig handling techniques, which recognize:

  • pigs’ reactions to stressors (e.g. separation from pen mates, mixing with new animals, new environments)
  • the need for positive interactions between handlers and pigs
  • humane methods for sorting and moving pigs, including the need to affect the direction of the lead pigs
  • the optimum group sizes for moving pigs
  • the correct use of handling and humane moving devices
  • how to manage distressed and heat-stressed pigs
  • the correct use of restraining devices that are appropriate for various sizes of pigs.

REQUIREMENTS

Handlers must be competent in low-stress pig handling methods.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. ensure animal handlers understand the behavioural principles of low-stress pig handling such as flight zone and point of balance, and understand how their attitudes and behaviour impact pig welfare
  2. hire handlers with positive attitudes and who exhibit empathy towards pigs.

4.3 Mixing Pigs

When pigs are mixed, they go through a period in which they establish social hierarchy, which often involves aggression. Providing regrouped pigs with areas to escape attacks reduces aggression (20).

Pigs in large groups (i.e. >80) seem to be more tolerant when unfamiliar animals are introduced to the group (5). There is evidence that farms using large-group housing have fewer death losses during marketing than farms utilizing smaller group sizes.

REQUIREMENTS

Strategies to minimize or eliminate aggression must be developed and followed.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. aim to reduce aggression-induced bites, scratches, and wounds
  2. minimize mixing of pigs
  3. minimize other stressors when mixing pigs: avoid overcrowding, or mixing during hot, humid conditions.

4.4 Breeding

It is important to protect breeding animals from injury. Breeding gilts too early may predispose them to lameness and other problems (23). Boars not actively involved in heat detection or breeding need exercise to meet their physical needs.

REQUIREMENTS

Breeding practices must not cause injury or suffering to any of the animals.

Boars housed in stalls must be provided with opportunities for exercise at least 4 times per week.

Gilts must not be bred before achieving adequate body weight and condition, age, and maturity to ensure the health and welfare of the gilts and their litters.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. maintain slip resistant floors in mating areas
  2. remove any objects or projections, such as feeders or nipple drinkers, that may cause injury during mating
  3. keep records on individual sows and use them to monitor farrowing difficulties and maternal behaviour
  4. match boar size to that of gilt or sow.

4.4.1 Genetic Selection

Genetic selection for specific positive production traits can influence health and behaviour, which in turn, can impact pig welfare. For example, increased aggression and tail-biting behaviour has been linked to specific genetic strains. Also, sows that produce fast-gaining offspring have to be fed restricted diets, which can result in abnormal behaviours caused by the unfulfilled feeling of hunger.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. breed for traits that have a positive influence on animal welfare, health, and behaviour
  2. maintain breeding records to assist in identifying genetic sources of undesirable traits.

4.5 Elective Husbandry Procedures

Elective husbandry procedures such as castration, tail-docking and tusk trimming can be painful for pigs. Minimizing stress, discomfort, and pain requires attention to protocols and equipment that enable stockpersons to perform such procedures with skill and care for the pigs’ welfare.

REQUIREMENTS

Elective husbandry procedures must only be carried out by competent stockpersons.

Properly maintained equipment must be used and hygienic conditions must be maintained.

The need for all elective procedures and alternative options must be reviewed and evaluated regularly.

4.5.1 Castration

Typically, piglets are castrated before weaning to control “boar taint”, and to reduce aggression and handling challenges associated with intact males.

Castration of pigs is painful regardless of age. The administration of analgesics is beneficial in controlling post-procedure pain (2). The application of topical anesthetics is ineffective in relieving pain during castration (2).

Immunization against boar taint, also known as immuno-castration, is an effective alternative to surgical castration. Production of intact males at lighter weights reduces boar taint, but does not guarantee its absence (2). In addition, aggression inherent with raising intact males presents other welfare challenges (2).

REQUIREMENTS

Castration performed after 10 days of age must be done with anesthetic and analgesic to help control pain.

As of July 1, 2016, castration performed at any age must be done with analgesics to help control post-procedure pain.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. use an anesthetic and analgesic to control pain during castration and after the procedure for all pigs
  2. use a licensed veterinarian to castrate pigs weighing more than 23kg (51lbs)
  3. consider using non-surgical methods to control boar taint once available and accepted in Canadian markets
  4. consider marketing intact males in markets where lighter market weights are accepted.

4.5.2 Identification

A national system is in place to facilitate trace-back of swine to the farm of origin, when necessary. Slap tattoos that are linked to the pigs’ origin premises are a market-driven requirement on pigs that are marketed in Canada.

Producers may elect to individually identify breeding animals. Identification is an important tool for maintaining health records and for tracking pigs through the farm. Identification methods include ear notches, ear tattoos, electronic transponders, ear tags, or pen (group) recognition.

Ear notching is considered to be painful. Ear tattooing causes stress in pigs, which may be reduced by refinement of equipment and techniques.

REQUIREMENTS

Ear notching must only be performed on piglets when deemed necessary and when piglets are less than 14 days of age.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. use analgesics to control pain when ear tattooing, notching, or punching
  2. do not use excessive force when applying slap tattoos and avoid boney areas
  3. use a specialized hammer designed for the size of pig when slap marking young pigs; pigs should be a minimum of 20kg (44lbs)
  4. ensure that tags are correctly inserted, taking care to avoid main blood vessels and ridges of cartilage
  5. use non-toxic substances for temporary identification (e.g. livestock markers).

4.5.3 Tail Docking and Tail-Biting

Tail-biting is both a welfare and economic problem that involves destructive chewing of pen-mates’ tails. Tail-biting can result in serious wounds and bleeding, and more severe consequences such as infection, spinal abscess, paralysis, and in extreme cases, death (24).

Tail-biting can be triggered by a wide range or combination of factors including overstocking, feed deficiencies, incorrect temperature levels, inadequate ventilation, drafts, high levels of dust and noxious gases such as ammonia, and lack of enrichment.

Some studies suggest that environmental enrichment, especially the provision of straw, reduces the chance of tail-biting (25).

The practice of tail-docking has been adopted primarily to reduce the risk of tail-biting. Docking tails too short may lead to infections or prolapses. Docking tails too long is not effective. (24).

Tail docking is known to cause acute stress, as indicated by physiological and behavioural responses. Animals with docked tails may develop increased sensitivity and chronic pain (26).

REQUIREMENTS

Pigs must be routinely monitored for signs of tail-biting, and corrective action, as necessary, must be taken (e.g. assess possible contributing factors; remove tail-biter; add rooting and/or physical enrichment).

Tail docking of pigs over 7 days of age must be done with pain control.

As of July 1, 2016, tail-docking performed at any age must be done with analgesics to help control post-procedure pain.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. in order to prevent or control instances of tail-biting, investigate all aspects of the environment, feeding, and management practices to identify contributing factors where tail-biting is a problem, so that remedial action (e.g. environmental enrichment) can be taken
  2. provide rooting substrate (e.g. straw, shredded paper, hay, wood, sawdust) twice daily to weaned pigs to prevent tail-biting
  3. perform tail-docking, when deemed necessary, on piglets as early as possible, preferably between 24 to 72 hours of age, to a length that as a minimum, covers the anus
  4. use analgesics to control pain when docking tails on piglets
  5. do not leave tails intact as a means of identifying piglets (e.g. ridgling piglets).

4.5.4 Teeth Clipping

Although once a standard practice, routine teeth clipping is less common. Teeth clipping can help to reduce injury to littermates and/or the sow from outwardly projecting canine or “needle” teeth.

Typically, piglets start to use their teeth to compete within the first 24 hours of age, which is when the decision of whether clipping the teeth of aggressive piglets needs to be made.

Improperly performed, clipping needle teeth may cause discomfort to the piglet or infection.

REQUIREMENTS

The need to clip piglets’ teeth must be evaluated, and the procedure performed only when deemed necessary.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. only clip teeth of piglets that show aggressive behaviour to littermates or nursing sows
  2. avoid shattering of teeth
  3. avoid clipping too short or too sharp. Remove the tips of teeth only or grind needle teeth with an appropriate grinder. Remove only one-third to one-half of the tooth
  4. clip teeth as early as possible when deemed necessary
  5. avoid teeth clipping on low birth weight piglets
  6. treat injured littermates as soon as possible.

4.5.5 Tusk Trimming

When deemed necessary, tusk trimming is done to prevent boars from injuring other pigs or handlers. The teeth in the upper jaw may be considerably smaller and only the tusks on the lower jaw need to be trimmed. The procedure should remove the tip of the tooth only and should not involve the pulp cavity, the inside of the tusk that contains nerves and blood vessels.

Tusk trimming can be a painful procedure. Producers need to transport boars individually instead of trimming their tusks.

REQUIREMENTS

The pulp cavity must be avoided during tusk trimming.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. trim tusks at least 2-3cm (0.8-1.2in) above the gum line without causing damage to other
    tissue (27)
  2. tusk trimming should be performed by a veterinarian, or a competent stockperson with appropriate sedative (consult the herd veterinarian)
  3. use embryotomy wire or a wire saw
  4. consider on-farm euthanasia of boars if they cannot be transported without risking the welfare of the boar, other animals, or stockpersons.

Section 5  Transportation

Everyone involved in the transportation of animals in Canada, or arranging for their transport, has a responsibility for ensuring that the entire transportation process (including loading, transit and unloading) does not cause injury or suffering to the animals. Those transporting pigs or arranging for pigs to be transported must follow the most current national and provincial animal transport requirements. The federal requirements for animal transport are covered under the Health of Animals Regulations, Part XII (Transportation of Animals) (28).

The scope of the Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs ends at the farm gate, but includes Requirements and considerations that affect the transportation process. A separate Code of Practice for transportation is available on the National Farm Animal Care Council’s website. Refer to Appendix O – Resources for Further Information.

5.1 Pre-Transport Planning

Advance planning is a key factor affecting the welfare of animals during transport. Planning includes selecting and preparing the animals, ensuring appropriate loading facilities are in place, and making arrangements with a qualified transporter. The nature and duration of the journey also needs to be taken into consideration (29) to ensure that animals are fit for the intended journey. As examples, some animals are more likely to suffer adverse effects of hot, humid weather, and an animal that is fit for a short journey direct to an abattoir may not be fit for marketing through an auction. Those responsible for arranging transportation services need to know the expected length of the trip, including intermediate stops (e.g. rest stops, assembly yards, auctions), and whether the transporter needs to provide additional services (e.g. feed, water, rest) during transit.

Loading densities may change based on various factors such as weather, the weight of individual pigs, and the expected duration of the trip.

REQUIREMENTS

Pigs must be loaded, unloaded, handled, and transported by competent persons.

Pigs that are incompatible must not be mixed.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. ensure all required paperwork (e.g. livestock manifests, bills of lading, emergency contact information) is completed and provided to the transporter so that the vehicle can leave immediately after loading
  2. ensure loading facilities are compatible with the type of conveyance being used by the transporter
  3. ensure the following information is discussed and agreed upon between transporter and shipper when booking transportation:
    • number of pigs to be shipped
    • type and average individual weight of pigs (e.g. weaners, market hogs, sows, boars)
    • time and point of loading
    • destination
    • special requirements, if any, of the animals being transported
    • special protection for all pigs from cold or hot weather as appropriate
  4. during hot weather, schedule loading to avoid the hottest hours and avoid traveling during congested traffic conditions. Take action to cool pigs prior to loading when necessary and possible (e.g. misting, spraying). Refer to Appendix M – Temperature - Humidity Index Table
  5. know how to determine proper loading densities in all weather conditions in order to provide more accurate information to transporters when arranging for transport (refer to Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Farm Animals: Transportation)
  6. schedule loading and transportation so that pigs can be unloaded promptly at destination.

5.1.1 Preparing Pigs for Transport

Several factors affect the welfare of pigs during loading and transportation. These include:

  • group size
  • feeding programs and methods, including some feed additives and nutritional deficiencies
  • lighting conditions at loading
  • drafts in the loading/handling facilities
  • extreme heat, humidity, or cold
  • aggressive handling during production
  • lack of regular moving and handling during the finishing period
  • the attitudes of handlers both during the production phase and during loading.

Feed withdrawal prior to transport is an important consideration for pig welfare (30). Pigs with no fasting period before transport are harder to handle (31) and are more likely to suffer from dizziness, hyperventilation, and vomiting. Withdrawing feed several hours prior to loading may benefit pigs. However, pigs should not be mixed in order to withdraw feed.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. select and identify pigs before the transport vehicle arrives to avoid delays in loading pigs
  2. do not load pregnant sows destined for slaughter within 6 weeks of expected farrowing or sows with suckling litters
  3. provide access to cool drinking water in assembly and all holding pens
  4. avoid feeding market pigs at least 5 hours prior to transport, but withdrawal of feed should not exceed 24 hours in total prior to slaughter.

5.1.2 Preparing Newly Weaned Pigs for Transport

Generally, newly weaned pigs load easily. Because of their smaller size, they are more susceptible to temperature stress during transportation.

REQUIREMENTS

The vehicle or container must be bedded with clean straw, shavings, or other bedding material to provide effective insulation and comfort and to prevent the newly weaned pigs from developing hypothermia or frostbite.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. avoid excessive noise to rush and crowd pigs into or out of the truck and into the chute during movement
  2. ensure 25% of floor space is visible when newly weaned pigs are standing
  3. ensure that the conveyance is clean, disinfected, draft free, and provides the correct temperature and air quality for newly weaned pigs
  4. ensure appropriate herd identification and health records are in place before loading begins.

5.2 Fitness for Transport

Compromised animals have a reduced capacity to withstand the stress of transportation, due to injury, fatigue, infirmity, poor health, distress, very young or very old age, impending birth, or any other cause. Compromised animals are fit for transport with special provisions such as separation from other animals, extra bedding, and/or transporting to local slaughter only.

Animals affected with conditions associated with a high risk of undue suffering resulting from transport are unfit for transport (e.g. animals unable to stand without assistance or move without being dragged or carried, regardless of their size or age; referred to as non-ambulatory animals) (32).

The carrier or the driver has the right and responsibility to refuse to load an animal that they recognize as unfit or compromised.

REQUIREMENTS

Unfit animals must not be loaded (28). Refer to Appendix L – “Should this Pig be Loaded?” Decision Tree for guidance for determining fitness.

Compromised animals that are able to be transported under special provisions must be shipped directly to local slaughter, not through auction markets.

Animals that cannot bear weight on all four legs must not be loaded; these animals will likely become non-ambulatory during transport.

Fitness for transport in the context of each trip, including relevant factors such as the anticipated total trip duration from farm to final destination, and prevailing weather conditions, must be evaluated.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. refer to Appendix L – “Should this Pig be Loaded?” Decision Tree, for further guidance on determining fitness for transport
  2. identify less severe conditions early so that animals can be treated or shipped, as appropriate, before the condition worsens
  3. develop a cull management program. Refer to Section 3.2 – Herd Health Management Program
  4. market cull animals when they are fit.

5.3 Handling During Loading or Unloading

Quiet handling is essential to the safe and efficient movement of pigs. Calm pigs are easier to sort and separate than excited pigs. Pigs are easier to sort if the handler moves slowly and deliberately and separates the desired pigs from the group on the first attempt. Pigs will be easier to move if they are given an opportunity to explore the new floor surface prior to being driven over it. Piglets that have never walked on concrete may balk and be difficult to move.

Electric prods are not appropriate tools to use as a primary driving device. Alternative handling tools such as chase boards, canvas slappers, shakers, flags, or plastic paddles are more effective and more humane. Refer to Section 4.1 – Handling, Moving, Restraining and Treating Animals.

Both genetics and pigs’ previous experiences will affect the ease of handling of pigs.

The transportation process is stressful for pigs. While some stress is acceptable, transporting distressed (extremely stressed) pigs is a serious welfare concern. Possible contributing factors include heavy market weight, lack of exercise tolerance (i.e. distance moved during loading), rough handling, long feed withdrawal times, feed additives, steep loading ramps, high loading density, and hot, humid weather (33,34).

Distressed pigs may exhibit (32):

  • difficulty breathing or open-mouth breathing, panting or gasping
  • patchy skin discolouration
  • high body temperature
  • stiffness
  • reluctance to move (no other visible abnormalities)
  • inability to rise
  • trembling.

It is important that all handlers learn to recognize signs of distress in pigs as well as what to do with them once they are identified. Pigs that are showing signs of distress are unfit and must not be loaded. A rest is often sufficient for pigs to recover. If in 2-3 hours the pig has not recovered, chances are that it is not going to and it may need to be euthanized (35).

REQUIREMENTS

Pigs showing signs of distress prior to loading must not be loaded.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. handle pigs quietly and patiently. Refer to Section 4.1 – Handling, Moving, Restraining and Treating Animals
  2. ensure stock handlers are properly instructed and knowledgeable about animal behaviour and are skilled in handling pigs in varying climatic conditions
  3. clearly define the roles and responsibilities of each handler, including the transporter, before loading or unloading
  4. move pigs in manageable groups that are small enough to encourage forward movement of the lead pigs and that are appropriate for the facilities and the size of pigs. Always move pigs at a pace comfortable to the animal
  5. move pigs showing signs of distress during loading to a recovery pen and allow 2-3 hours to recover before attempting to move or load.

5.4 Loading/Unloading Facilities

It is important to utilize facilities that allow for safe and easy movement of pigs to the loading facilities. Attention to the following will allow for easier movement of pigs:

  • compatibility between loading and unloading facilities with vehicle(s)
  • consistency in flooring types, temperature, air movement, and lighting (22)
  • eliminating visual distractions that cause pigs to balk such as gaps between pens, alleys, ramps side gates, and chutes
  • eliminating the need for loading ramps, or if not possible, limiting the angle of loading ramps and ensuring that ramps are wide enough to accommodate the size of pigs
  • utilizing ramps that allow 2 pigs to walk side-by-side.

REQUIREMENTS

Loading and unloading facilities must be constructed with safe and secure footholds and must be maintained to facilitate ease of movement, and to prevent pigs from falling off, escaping or being injured.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. limit the angle of loading ramps to 20 degrees or less
  2. ensure that gates, doors, and alleys are sufficiently wide to achieve good pig flow without bruising injury, and which avoid sharp turns
  3. use solid sides on ramps, crowd pens, and chutes
  4. utilize cleats on ramps that are spaced at intervals appropriate to the size of the pigs (20cm [~8in] apart for market hogs and a maximum of 10cm [~4in] apart for piglets and nursery pigs) (36)
  5. provide consistent conditions between barn and loading ramp to minimize stress when moving and loading pigs.

Section 6  Euthanasia

6.1 On-Farm Euthanasia Plans

Comprehensive on-farm euthanasia plans provide consistent guidance to stockpersons about when euthanasia should be applied, by whom, and the methods that should be used. It is important that responsible personnel be made aware of and be trained in following the plan.

A euthanasia plan should include:

  • specific aspects of the skills and knowledge required to correctly euthanize an animal including:
    - the appropriate euthanasia method depending on the age and/or size of the pig
    - methods of restraint
    - how to use and maintain the equipment
    - operator safety
  • selection and identification of primary and secondary stockpersons who are trained in the various methods of euthanasia
  • euthanasia equipment maintenance protocols
  • criteria to guide decisions on when to euthanize an animal, including when to stop treating an animal and euthanize, taking the following into account:
    - likelihood of recovery
    - pain and distress of the animal
    - ability to get to feed and water
    - disease risks to other animals
    - ability to walk
    - diagnostic information
    - productivity
  • appropriate euthanasia methods based on the weight of pigs, taking into account:
    - risks to other animals
    - animal handling and restraint
    - impact on stockpersons performing the procedure
  • carcass disposal.

REQUIREMENTS

In consultation with a licensed veterinarian, an on-farm written euthanasia plan to facilitate timely on-farm euthanasia must be developed and followed.

Individuals who euthanize pigs must be trained in the appropriate euthanasia methods. Refer to Appendix N – Methods of Euthanasia.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. ensure that stockpersons are aware of the euthanasia plan
  2. develop clear criteria around when to euthanize an animal to ensure consistent decision-making among on-farm personnel. Refer to Appendix J – Example of Decision Tree for Euthanasia.

6.2 Decision-Making around Euthanasia

Allowing a sick or injured animal to linger unnecessarily is unacceptable. There are three options for pigs that become ill or injured:

  • treatment – if appropriate and proven medical treatment is available
  • ship direct to slaughter – if the animal is deemed fit for transport (refer to Section 5.2) and fit for human consumption
  • euthanize – euthanasia may be the best option for welfare reasons.

REQUIREMENTS

Pigs not responding to treatment and pigs with untreatable conditions that compromise welfare, if not fit for transport, must be promptly euthanized or slaughtered on-farm (if fit for human consumption) in accordance with provincial regulations.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES

  1. ensure that on-farm personnel understand guidelines on when animals must be euthanized. Refer to Appendix J – Example of Decision Tree for Euthanasia
  2. refer to Appendix L – “Should this Pig be Loaded?” Decision Tree, for guidance on animals that should be euthanized on-farm if not being treated.

6.3 Methods of Euthanasia

Any euthanasia method must result in an immediate loss of sensibility with minimal pain and distress, followed by rapid progression to death.

REQUIREMENTS

An acceptable method for euthanizing pigs must be used. Refer to Appendix N – Methods of Euthanasia.

The method used to euthanize pigs must be administered in a manner that is quick and causes the least possible pain and distress.

Prior to being euthanized, animals must not be dragged, prodded, forced to move on broken limbs, or made to move when pain and suffering will occur.

6.4 Confirmation of Death

Death has been defined as “the irreversible loss of brain activity demonstrable by the loss of brain stem reflexes” (37). Regardless of the method used, it is important to be able to immediately examine the animal for evidence of death to ensure that the method has been successful. Signs that a pig is returning to sensibility include the presence of one or more of the following:

  • rhythmic breathing
  • constricted pupils
  • attempts to raise the head (righting reflex)
  • vocalization
  • palpebral reflex (run finger along the eyelash and if the pig blinks or moves its eye, the pig is sensible)
  • corneal reflex
  • response to a painful stimulus (such as a nose prick with a needle)
  • natural blinking
  • presence of jaw tone.

REQUIREMENTS

Animals must be evaluated for insensibility immediately following the application of the euthanasia method. A backup method of euthanasia must be immediately applied if an animal shows signs of returning to sensibility. Refer to Appendix N – Methods of Euthanasia.

Death must always be confirmed when euthanizing animals before moving or leaving the animal.

References

  1. Li, Y. (n.d.) Sorting Sows by Parity to Reduce Aggression in Group-Housing Systems. University of Minnesota Swine Extension. Available at: www.extension.umn.edu/swine/components/pubs/sorting-sows-by-parity.htm Accessed: August 3, 2012.
  2. Pig Code of Practice Scientific Committee (2012) Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs: Review of Scientific Research on Priority Issues. Lacombe AB: National Farm Animal Care Council.
  3. Ferket S.L. & Hacker R.R. (1985) Effect of forced exercise during gestation on reproductive performance of sows. Canadian Journal of Animal Science 65:851-859.
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  5. Ellis M., DeDecker J., Kephart K. & Brumm M. (2010) Management of Large Groups of Growing Pigs. Available at: www.extension.org/pages/27459/management-of-large-groups-of-growing-pigs  Accessed: August 3, 2012
  6. Curtis S.E. (1986) Toxic Gases (Howard J.L., ed.).Current Veterinary Therapy: Food Animal Practice 2. Philadelphia, PA. W.B. Saunders, pp 456-457.
  7. Myer R. & Bucklin R. (2012) Influence of Hot-Humid Environment on Growth Performance and Reproduction of Swine. University of Florida IFAS Extension. AN107 Available at: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/AN/AN10700.pdf. Accessed: August 3, 2012.
  8. Taylor N. (2010) Lighting for Pig Units. BPEX, a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board. Available at: www.bpex.org.uk/downloads/300701/297763/Lighting%20For%20Pig%20Units.pdf.  Accessed: March 20, 2013
  9. Taylor N., Prescott N., Perry G., Potter M., Le Sueur C. & Wathes C. (2006) Preference of Growing Pigs for Illuminance. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 96:19-31
  10. Tuyttens F.A.M. (2005) The Importance of Straw for Pig and Cattle Welfare: A Review. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 92:261-282. 
  11. Mench J., Newberry R., Millman S., Tucker C. & Katz L. (2010) Chapter 4: Environmental Enrichment. In: Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching. Champaign, Ill: Federation of Animal Science Societies. ISBN 978-1-884706-11-0.
  12. Kittawornrat A. & Zimmerman J.J. (2010) Toward a Better Understanding of Pig Behavior and Pig Welfare. Department of Veterinary Diagnostic and Production Animal Medicine, College of Veterinary Medicine, Iowa State University. Animal Health Research Reviews 12:25-32. ISSN 1446-2523.
  13. DeRouchey J.M., Dritz S.S., Goodband R.D., Nelssen J.L. & Tokach M.D. (2007) Starter Pig Recommendations. In: KSU Swine Nutrition Guide. Manhattan, KS: Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service. MF-2300
  14. Coffey R.D., Parker G.R. & Laurent K.M. (1999) Assessing Sow Body Condition. Lexington, KY. University of Kentucky College of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. ASC-158. Available at: www.ca.uky.edu/agc/pubs/asc/asc158/asc158.pdf Accessed: May 14, 2013.
  15. Rushen J., de Passillé A.M., von Keyserlingk M.A.G. & Weary D.M. (2008) Health, Disease, and Productivity. In: The Welfare of Cattle. Vol. 5. (Philips C., ed). Dordrecht, NE: Springer.
  16. Tubbs R.C. & Floss J.L. (1993) Herd Management for Disease Prevention. Columbia, MO. University of Missouri Extension. G2507 Available at: http://extension.missouri.edu/publications/DisplayPrinterFriendlyPub.aspx?P=G2507 Accessed: August 3, 2012. 
  17. Millman S. (2009) Caring for the Convalescent Pig and Euthanasia Decisions. Available at: www.slideshare.net/trufflemedia/caring-for-the-convalescent-pig-and-euthanasia-decision-suzanne-millman-iowa-state-university Accessed: August 3, 2012.
  18. Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Northern Ireland) (n.d.) Growing Pig: Targets for the Weaned Pig. Available at: www.dardni.gov.uk/ruralni/index/livestock/pigs_main/husbandry/husbandry_growing_pig.htm Accessed: August 3, 2012.
  19. Roese G. & Taylor G (2006) Primefacts. Basic Pig Husbandry – The Weaner. NSW Department of Primary Industries. Available at: www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/56147/Basic_pig_husbandry-he_weaner_-_Primefact_72-final.pdf  Accessed: August 3, 2012
  20. Grandin T. & Shultz-Kaster C. (2010) Handling Pigs. Available at: www.extension.org/pages/27250/handling-pigs#Crowd_Pen_and_Chute_Design Accessed: August 3, 2012.
  21. Extension (2011) What are some Tips for Moving or Handling Pigs? Available at: www.extension.org/pages/41106/what-are-some-tips-for-moving-or-handling-pigs Accessed: August 3, 2012.
  22. Franz E. (2008) Handling and Transportation for Swine Producers. Michigan State University Extension. Available at: www.thepigsite.com/articles/5/housing-and-environmental-control/2318/handling-and-transportation-for-swine-producers Accessed August 3, 2012
  23. Grandin T. (2000) Preventing Crippled and Non-ambulatory Animals. Available at: www.grandin.com/welfare/lci/lci.html Accessed: August 3, 2012
  24. Widowski T. & Torrey S. (2002) Fact Sheet. Neonatal Management Practices. National Pork Board. Available at: www.pork.org/filelibrary/Factsheets/Well-Being/SWINE%20WELFAREFACTSHT-neona.pdf Accessed: August 3, 2012.
  25. Zonderland J.J., Wolthuis-Fillerup M, van Reenan C.G., Bracke M.B.M., Kemp B., den Hartog L.A. & Spoolder H.A.M. (2008) Prevention and Treatment of Tail Biting in Weaned Piglets. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 110:269-281.
  26. American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) (2010) Backgrounder. Welfare Implications of Practices Performed on Piglets. Available at: www.avma.org/KB/Resources/Backgrounders/Pages/Welfare-implications-of-practices-performed-on-piglets.aspx Accessed: May 13, 2013
  27. Bovey K., Lawlis P., Delay J. & Widowski T. (n.d.) Fact Sheet. An Examination into the Innervation and Condition of Mature Boar Tusks at Slaughter. University of Guelph. Available at: www.uoguelph.ca/csaw/doc/TuskTrimmingFactSheet.pdf  Accessed December 4, 2012.
  28. Health of Animals Regulations. C.R.C., c.296, Part XII: Transportation of Animals. Available at: http://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/C.R.C.,_c._296/page-37.html#h-70. Accessed August 7, 2012.
  29. Broom, D.M. (2005) The Effects of Land Transport on Animal Welfare. Revue Scientifique et Technique 24:683-691.
  30. Smith, G.C., Grandin, T., Friend, T.H., Lay, Jr., D. & Swanson, J.C. (2004) Effect of Transport on Meat Quality and Animal Welfare of Cattle, Pigs, Sheep, Horses, Deer, and Poultry. Available at: www.grandin.com/behaviour/effect.of.transport.html. Accessed: August 5, 2012.
  31. Ontario Ministry of Agriculture Food and Rural Affairs (2005) Fact Sheet. Pork Safety and Quality: Feed Withdrawal Prior to Slaughter Agdex 444/50. Available at: www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/swine/facts/05-065.htm Accessed: March 13, 2013.
  32. Canadian Food Inspection Agency (2013) Transportation of Animals Program Compromised Animals Policy. Available at: www.inspection.gc.ca/english/anima/trans/polie.shtml Accessed: February 8, 2012.
  33. Ritter M.J., Ellis M., Anderson D.B., Curtis S.E., Keffaber K.K., Killefer J., McKeith F.K., Murphy C.M. & Peterson B.A. (2009) Effects of Multiple Concurrent Stressors on Rectal Temperature, Blood Acid-Base Status, and Longissimus Muscle Glycolytic Potential in Market-Weight Hogs. Journal of Animal Science 87:351-362.
  34. Fitzgerald R.F., Stalder K.J., Matthews J.O., Schultz Kaster C.M., & Johnson A.K. (2009) Factors Associated with Fatigued, Injured, and Dead Pig Frequency during Tranport and Lairage at a Commercial Abattoir. Journal of Animal Science 87:1156-1166.
  35. Ritter M.J., Ellis M., Brinkmann J., DeDecker J.M., Keffaber K.K., Kocher M.E., Peterson B.A., Schlipf J.M. & Wolter B.F. (2005) Effect of Floor Space during Transport of Market-Weight Pigs on the Incidence of Transport Losses at the Packing Plant and the Relationships between Transport Conditions and Losses. Journal of Animal Science 84:2856-2864.
  36. Grandin T. (1990) Design of Loading Facilities and Holding Pens. Applied Animal Behavior 28:187-201.
  37. World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) (2012) Glossary: Terrestrial Animal Health Code. Available at: www.oie.int/international-standard-setting/terrestrial-code/access-online/ Accessed: May 13, 2013
  38. Gonyou H. University of Saskatchewan (retired)
  39. BPEX, a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (2003) General guidelines on Liquid Feeding for Pigs. Available at: www.bpex.org.uk/downloads/295080/283354/General%20guidelines%20on%20liquid%20feeding%20for%20pigs.pdf. Accessed: December 30, 2013.
  40. Prairie Swine Centre Inc.(2000, Revised 2008) Section 4: Feeding and Nutrition. In: Pork Production Reference Guide. Saskatoon, SK: Prairie Swine Centre, p. 27.
  41. BPEX, a division of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board & University of Bristol (n.d.) Environment Enrichment for Pigs: Providing Objects of Substrates for Proper Investigation and Manipulation; Keeping Pigs Occupied in Non-Harmful Behaviour. Available at: www.bpex.org/downloads/301028/298574/Environment%20Enrichment%20for%20Pigs.pdf Accessed: March 20, 2013.
  42. Turner P.V. & Doonan G. (2010) Developing On-Farm Euthanasia Plans. The Canadian Veterinary Journal 51:1031-1034
  43. Dalmau A., Llonch P. & Velarde A. (2009) What the Experts Say: Pig Vision and Management/Handling. Available at: www.pig333.com/what_the_experts_say/pig-vision-and-management-handling_981/ Accessed: December 4, 2012.
  44. Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) (2002) CVMA Guidelines on the Prudent Use of Antimicrobial Drugs in Swine. Ottawa ON.
  45. Shearer J.K. & Ramirez A. (2013) Humane Euthanasia – Humane Euthanasia of Sick, Injured and/or Debilitated Livestock. Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine. Available at: http://vetmed.iastate.edu/vdpam/extension/dairy/programs/humane-euthanasia Accessed: May 10, 2013.

Appendix A - Guidelines for Determining Individual Stall Sizes for Gestating Gilts and Sows

Minimum widths of individual holding units for gestating gilts and sows of various sizes1
Interior width of individual holding unitsWeight (at breeding) of gilt/sow housed individually for majority of gestationWeight (at breeding) of gilt/sow housed individually for first trimester only (~ 1 month)
cminkglbskglbs
6024<150<330<210<465
6526150-200330-440210-260465-575
7028200-260440-575260-320575-705
7530260-340575-750>320>705
8032>340>750N/AN/A
1.All new installations and replacements of existing individual stalls that occur after July 1, 2014, must be sized appropriately to allow sows to:
- Stand up at rest in a stall without simultaneously touching both sides of the stall
- Lie down without their udders protruding into adjacent stalls
- Stand up without touching the top bars
- Stand in a stall without simultaneously touching both ends of the stall

Appendix B - Recommended Minimum Floor Space Allowances for Gilts and Sows in Group Housing

Group DescriptionPartially Slatted FloorsSolid Bedded Floors
m2ft2m2ft2
Gilts1.4-1.715-181.5-1.916-20
Sows1.8-2.219-242.0-2.421-26
Mixed (Gilts and Sows)1.7-2.118-231.9-2.320-25

Note: There are variations in the amount of space required based on feeding systems, group sizes, flooring, etc.

Appendix C - Floor Space Allowances for Weaned/Nursery Pigs

Average Body WeightRequirementShort Term Adjustment to Requirement allowable
at end of Production Phase
Recommended Practice
k value:0.03350.02850.02680.039
Weight of PigsMinimum Space Allowance per Pig15% short-term allowable decrease in floor space20% short-term allowable decrease in floor space1Ideal Minimum Space Allowance
Fully Slatted or Partially Slatted Floors
kglbsm2ft2m2ft2m2ft2m2ft2
10220.161.670.131.420.121.340.181.95
12260.181.890.151.610.141.510.202.20
14310.192.100.171.780.161.680.232.44
16350.212.290.181.950.171.830.252.67
18400.232.480.202.110.181.980.272.89
20440.252.660.212.260.202.130.293.10
22490.262.830.222.410.212.270.313.30
24530.283.000.242.550.222.400.323.50
26570.293.170.252.690.242.530.343.69
28620.313.330.262.830.252.660.363.88
30660.323.490.282.960.262.790.384.06
32710.343.640.293.090.272.910.394.24
34750.353.790.303.220.283.030.414.41
36790.373.940.313.350.293.150.434.58
38840.384.080.323.470.303.260.444.75
40880.394.220.333.590.313.380.464.92
1.Supporting records required. Refer to Section 1.2.2.

 

Appendix D - Floor Space Allowances for Grower/Finisher Pigs

 RequirementShort Term Adjustment to Requirement allowable at end of Production PhaseRecommended Practice
k value:0.03350.03020.02850.0390.045
Maximum Average Body Weight in Pen1Fully Slatted and Partially Slatted FloorsSolid Bedded Floors
Minimum Space Allowance per Pig10% short-term allowable decrease in floor space15% short-term allowable decrease in floor spac2Ideal Minimum Space Allowance
kglbsm2ft2m2ft2m2ft2m2ft2m2ft2
40880.394.220.353.800.333.590.464.920.535.67
45990.424.570.384.110.363.880.495.320.576.14
501100.464.900.414.410.394.170.535.700.616.58
551210.495.220.444.700.414.440.566.080.657.01
601320.515.530.464.980.444.700.606.440.697.43
651430.545.840.495.250.464.960.636.800.737.84
701540.576.130.515.520.485.210.667.140.778.24
751650.606.420.545.780.515.460.697.480.808.63
801760.626.700.566.030.535.700.737.810.849.01
851870.656.980.586.280.555.930.768.130.879.38
901980.677.250.616.530.576.160.788.440.919.74
952090.707.520.636.770.596.390.818.750.9410.10
1002200.727.780.657.000.616.610.849.060.9710.45
1052310.758.040.677.230.636.830.879.361.0010.80
1102430.778.290.697.460.657.050.909.651.0311.14
1152540.798.540.717.690.677.260.929.941.0711.47
1202650.828.790.737.910.697.470.9510.231.1011.80
1252760.849.030.758.130.717.670.9810.511.1312.13
1302870.869.270.778.340.737.881.0010.791.1612.45
1352980.889.500.798.550.758.081.0311.071.1912.77
1403090.909.740.818.760.778.281.0511.341.2213.08
1453200.939.970.838.970.798.471.0811.611.2413.39
1503310.9510.200.859.180.818.671.1011.871.2713.70
1.Typically ~ 10 to 20% less than the target market weight
2.Supporting records required. Refer to Section 1.2.2.

Appendix E - Recommended Minimum Space Allowances for Boars

Boar Pens
Flooring TypeMinimum Pen Size
Partially/Fully Slatted1.8m x 3.1m (5.6m2)6ft x 10ft (60ft2)
Solid Bedded2.4m x 3.1m (7.4m2)8ft x 10ft (80ft2)
Boar Stalls
Boar WeightMinimum Stall Size
135kg (300lbs)0.70m x 2.13m28in x 7ft
180kg (400lbs)0.82m x 2.29m32in x 7ft, 6in
≥225kg (≥500lbs)0.91m x 2.44m36in x 8ft

Appendix F - Feeder Design

Dry Feeders (38)

The minimum width of a feeding space is based on the shoulder width of the largest pig in the pen, plus 10% to accommodate variation in body shape. The formula used to calculate the width of a feeding space is:

Minimum feeder space width = maximum shoulder width x 1.10
cm = (6.1 x maximum body weight (kg)0.333) x 1.10

Recommended Width of Eating Space
Weight of Largest Pig in PenFeeder Width
kglbscmin
5512125.510.2
7015427.711.1
10022031.112.4
11024232.212.9
12026433.113.2
13028733.913.4
14030934.813.9
15033135.614.0

Feeders are most crowded when growing pigs reach a point that only one pig can eat from a feeder space at the same time (typically 25kg), at which point they spend 80-110 minutes/day eating, depending on the feed and feeder type.

Liquid Feeders (39)

Restricted feeding systems need to provide each pig within the pen with a feeding space at the trough. The length of trough required per pig should be calculated for the maximum weight of the pig to be housed (39).

Recommended trough space allowance for restricted liquid feeding (39)
Average LiveweightTrough Length (per pig)
kglbscmin
1022135.1
10-2022-44166.3
20-3044-6618.57.3
30-5066-11021.58.5
50-85110-1872610.2
85-110187-24327.510.8
110-120243-2652911.4

Ad lib systems can run successfully with up to 8 pigs per feeding space but it is important to recognize that younger pigs prefer to feed together, and inadequate provision of trough space can lead to stress, vices, and variable growth rates. Providing more than one trough per pen can reduce the effect of dominant pigs that may seek to restrict access to troughs (39).

Appendix G - Water Intake, Recommended Flow Rate and Height of Nipple Drinkers

Water Intake, Recommended Flow Rate and Height of Nipple Drinkers (40)
PhaseWeight (kg)Intake
(L/day)*
Nipple Drinkers**
Flow
(L/min)
Height [cm, (inches), 45°]Height [cm, (inches), 90°]
Gestation Variable0.5 to 1.090 (35)75 (30)
Lactation 12 to 201.0 to 2.090 (35)75 (30)
Piglets Variable0.5 to 0.715 (6)10 (4)
Weanling51.0 to 2.00.5 to 1.030 (12)25 (10)
Weanling71.5 to 2.50.5 to 1.035 (14)30 (12)
Grow/Finish152.5 to 3.50.5 to 1.045 (18)35 (14)
Grow/Finish203 to 40.5 to 1.050 (20)40 (16)
Grow/Finish253 to 40.5 to 1.055 (22)45 (18)
Grow/Finish505 to 70.5 to 1.065 (26)55 (22)
*Water disappearance may exceed consumption by as much as 100% (average is 35%) if traditional nipple drinkers are employed. Consumption will increase 15 to 50% if barn temperatures are above the temperature comfort zone.
**Waste will increase if drinkers are poorly positioned, if flow rates are excessive or if feed intake is restricted.

Appendix H - The Six Ss: Simple Criteria for Choosing Enrichment for Pigs

The Six Ss (41)1

* SAFE

  • No sharp edges
  • No tires
  • No poisonous wood or wood that may have been preserved, or any other toxic material
  • No staples or fixings in wood
  • No materials that may be toxic to pigs
  • Limbs and/or other body parts cannot become trapped
  • If the enrichment can be broken or dismantled by the animals, the fragments must not pose a safety risk
  • The enrichment should not be able to be used to injure pen-mates or damage the enclosure

* SANITARY

  • Materials should not be fouled
  • Materials should be easily cleaned or sterilized to prevent disease transmission

* SOFT

  • For the pigs to slowly destroy the object, it must be malleable (adds to the novelty factor)

* SIMPLE

  • Anything too complex can cause frustration and could actually lead to vice
  • A number of simple items is better than one complex item, and allows more pigs to gain access at one time

* SITE

  • Do not site toys over lying, drinking or feeding areas
  • Dunging areas prove the optimum position
  • Switch sites regularly to help maintain novelty

* SUSPENDED

  • Provides extended novelty factor
  • Avoids fouling
  • Allows more pigs to gain access to the toy if it is suspended in a central location

All enrichment objects must meet requirements contained in National Swine Farm-Level Biosecurity Standard, and the section on Biosecurity in CQA® for Canadian Hog Producers. Refer to Appendix O – Resources for Further Information.

1.Adapted from: Environment Enrichment for Pigs - Providing objects or substrates for proper investigation and manipulation-Keeping pigs occupied in non-harmful behaviour (refer to Cited References). Additional text from Guide for the Care and Use of Agricultural Animals in Research and Teaching (refer to Cited References).

Appendix I - Sow Body Condition Scoring System

 

This scoring system (14) uses finger or hand pressure at key points on the sow’s body to arrive at a number, or score.

The points used on the sow’s body are those areas where the only tissue between the skin and bones is fat tissue. These areas on the sow include the ribs, back bone, “H” bones, and “pin” bones (Figure 1). By assessing the ease or difficulty of feeling these bones, you can estimate the fat stores of the sow. It is important to rely on more than one of these areas when assessing body condition. Different animals may deposit fat in differing degrees at different locations.

 

Figure 1. Location of ribs, backbone,  “H” bones, and “pin” bones on the sow.

 Figure 1. Location of ribs, backbone,
“H” bones, and “pin” bones on the sow.

Relationship between condition score and back-fat level (14)

Condition ScoreApproximate Level of Backfat
Inches (in)Millimeters (mm)
1< 0,6< 15
20.6 - 0.715 - 18
30.7 - 0.818 - 20
40.8 - 0.920 - 23
5> 0.9> 23

 

     
Condition
score 1:
Condition
score 2:
Condition
score 3:
Condition
score 4:
Condition
score 5:
The sow is visually thin, with hips and backbone very prominent and no fat cover over hips and backbone.The hip bones and backbone are easily felt without any pressure on the palms.It takes firm pressure with the palm to feel the hip bones and backbone.It is impossible to feel the bones at all even with pressure on the palm of the hands.The sow is carrying so much fat that it is impossible to feel the hip bones and backbone even by pushing down with a single finger.

 

ScoreAppearancePelvic BonesLoinRibs
1EmaciatedVery prominent. Deep cavity around tail headVertebrae are prominent and sharp. Very narrow loin. Hollow flank.Individual ribs are very prominent.
2ThinObvious with slight cover.Narrow loin. Flank rather hollow. Slight cover on spine, but prominent vertebrae.Rib cage less apparent but individual ribs easily detected with slight pressure.
3IdealCovered but felt with pressure.Spine covered and rounded.Ribs are covered but can be felt with pressure.
4FatOnly felt with firm pressure. No cavity around tail.Difficult to feel vertebrae. Flank filled.Rib cage not visible and difficult to feel.
5ObeseImpossible to feel and huge fat deposits (hanging skin and fat).Thick fat cover, impossible to feel bones. Flank full and rounded.Thick fat cover, not possible to feel ribs.

Appendix J - Example of Decision Tree for Euthanasia

Click diagram to enlarge

Examples of criteria for euthanizing weanling or growing pigs (42):

  • weak, unable to stand
  • unable to eat or drink
  • moderate to severe lameness
  • fractured leg
  • severely damaged digits
  • infected tail, ear, or flank bites
  • severe rectal prolapse (protruding or damaged)
  • postnatal development of scrotal, inguinal, or umbilical hernia
  • repaired hernia with abscessation, moderate swelling, or continued drainage
  • severe body weight loss (20% or greater)
  • severe diarrhea with dehydration (no response to treatment in 2 or more days)
  • respiratory disease with difficult or laboured breathing (no response to treatment in 2 or more days)

Source: Developing on-farm euthanasia plans (42).

Appendix K - Pig Vision and Flight Zone

 

 

Figure 1 – Monocular and binocular vision zones of the pig

Figure 2 - Balance point of the pig. If the intention is to move the pig in a forward direction, the animal handler should be situated at point b.

Reprinted with permission (43).

Appendix L - “Should this Pig be Loaded?” Decision Tree

 

Click diagram to enlarge

Appendix M - Temperature - Humidity Index Table

Transporting Hogs: Livestock Weather Safety Index – Relative Humidity Levels (%) 1

Click diagram to enlarge

How to Read This Chart

  1. Check the weather forecast for temperature and humidity.
  2. Locate the expected temperature in the column on the left.
  3. Extend that temperature in a straight line across the chart until it intersects with a line from the expected relative humidity.
  4. If temperatures are above 37.8°C (100°F), the situation is DANGER. Schedule loading to avoid
    the hottest hours and avoid traveling during congested traffic conditions. Cooling pigs prior to loading (e.g. misting, spraying) is recommended.
  5. If the temperature is above 37.8°C (100°F) and the relative humidity is above 30%, the situation is EMERGENCY, and shipments should be postponed until the weather moderates.
1. Source: Ontario Pork. Adapted from Dr. Frank Wiersma (1990) department of Agricultural Engineering, University of Arizona, Tucson

Appendix N - Methods of Euthanasia

The following is a list of acceptable and unacceptable methods of euthanasia of individual animals for use on-farm, as well as methods that are only considered acceptable with the noted conditions. The chart is based on the information that was available at the time of publishing1. For any method to be considered acceptable, it must render the animal immediately insensible and the animal must not return to sensibility prior to death. Individuals who euthanize pigs must be trained in the appropriate methods.

 

Click diagram to enlarge

1. Further research under the oversight of a regulated research body may result in new, acceptable equipment and/or euthanasia methods that may be developed and become available during the life of this Code.
2.Administered under the direction of a licensed veterinarian only.
3.Blunt trauma can be administered by grasping the hind legs of the piglet and striking the top of the cranium firmly and deliberately against a flat, hard surface. Alternatively, a sharp, firm blow with a heavy blunt instrument to the top of the head over the brain can be used. Sufficient force should be used to euthanize the piglet in one attempt. Alternative methods should be actively considered to ensure that criteria for euthanasia can be consistently met.
4.Electrocution of animals must be performed using properly-maintained, proven effective, purpose-designed equipment only. The electric current must flow through the brain first, resulting in insensibility and then through the heart which results in cardiac arrest. This can occur either simultaneously in one step, or by using a two-step method with electrocution to the head performed first.
5.Animals must be heavily sedated before introduction to gases. This form of euthanasia is acceptable only with properly-maintained, proven effective, purpose-designed equipment.
6.Non-penetrating captive bolt euthanasia may not be used unless the manufacturer specifies that the equipment is designed for the animal’s weight range. A secondary method of euthanasia may be required depending on the type of equipment used, after the animal becomes insensible. For pigs at the heavier end of this weight range, a penetrating captive bolt will be more effective.
7.It is critical to ensure proper placement and aim of the penetrating captive bolt since the brain is relatively small and well protected. (45) When using the captive bolt method, the frontal site is the only acceptable location.
8.Pigs ≥120kg (≥265lbs) in weight require a secondary method (e.g. reapply the captive bolt, pithing, bleeding) that is performed after the animal becomes insensible.
9.Proper placement and aim of the firearm is critical since the brain is relatively small and well protected. Gunshot can be applied to the frontal site, the temporal region, or from behind the ear directed diagonally toward the opposite eye. When performing euthanasia with a firearm, choosing a safe location to ensure that bystanders are safe is critical. All personnel should always be positioned behind the shooter. (45)

Appendix O - Resources for Further Information

SECTION 1 Housing and Handling Facilities

SECTION 2 Feed and Water

SECTION 3 Animal Health

SECTION 4 Husbandry Practices

SECTION 5 Transportation

SECTION 6 Euthanasia

General

Appendix P - Participants

Pig Code Development Committee Members

RoleRepresentativeOrganization
ProducerFlorian Possberg (Chair)Canadian Pork Council
 Edouard AsnongCanadian Pork Council
 Curtiss LittlejohnCanadian Pork Council
 Stephen MoffettCanadian Pork Council
Agriculture EngineerFranklin Kains P. Eng. 
VeterinarianMike Sheridan D.V.M.Canadian Veterinary Medical Association
Animal WelfareCarol Morgan D.V.M., Ph.D.Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (BC SPCA)
Animal Welfare EnforcementPenny Lawlis M.Sc.Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Food; Ministry of Rural Affairs
ProcessorJorge Correa Ph.D.Canadian Meat Council
 Frank WoodConestoga Meat Packers
TransporterSteve BrandtSteve’s Livestock Transport
Research/AcademicHarold Gonyou Ph.D.Scientific Committee Chair
Technical ExpertiseDanielle Pettigrew agr.Les Éleveurs de porcs du Québec
 Miles Beaudin MBAManitoba Pork Council
Federal GovernmentFrançois Bédard M.Sc.Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
 David Trus M.Sc.Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
 Gord Doonan D.V.M.Canadian Food Inspection Agency
Industry Liaison (Ex-Officio)Catherine ScovilCanadian Pork Council

Scientific Committee Members

OrganizationRepresentative
International Society for Applied EthologyHarold Gonyou B.Sc. (Agr), M.Sc., Ph.D. (Chair)
International Society for Applied Ethology/Canadian Society of Animal ScienceNicolas Devillers Ph.D.
Canadian Society of Animal ScienceLuigi Faucitano B.Sc., Ph.D.
Canadian Veterinary Medical AssociationRobert Friendship D.V.M., M.Sc., Dip. A.B.V.P.
Canadian Veterinary Medical AssociationTim Pasma B.Sc. (Agr), D.V.M., M.Sc.
International Society for Applied EthologyTina M. Widowski B.S., M.S., Ph.D.

The Code Development Committee would like to thank Dawn Miller, Audrey Cameron, Mark Fynn and Geoff Urton, whose contributions as standing observers provided valuable additional expertise and support, as well as Betsy Sharples who served as Code Development Secretary. Grateful acknowledgement also to those not listed above who contributed to the development of this Code and provided technical information and comments to the Committee throughout the process.

The committee also appreciates the valuable input received during the public comment period.

The Code Development Committee wishes to acknowledge and thank the members of the Scientific Committee; Nadine Ringgenberg for her work as Research Writer; Dr. Renée Bergeron, who served as the Peer Review Coordinator; and the three anonymous peer reviewers of the Pig Scientific Committee Report.

The contribution of all participants is greatly appreciated.

Appendix Q - Summary of Code Requirements

The following is a list of the Requirements within the pig Code of Practice. Refer to the cited Code section for further context about the Requirements.

Section 1 Housing and Handling Facilities

1.1 Housing Systems

  • Housing systems and their components must be designed, constructed and regularly inspected and maintained in a manner that reduces the potential for injury, provides suitable temperatures (refer to Table 1.1), fresh air, and clean conditions, and allows for inspection of all pigs.
  • Emergency plans must be developed to ensure that alternative means of temperature regulation, ventilation, feeding, and watering of pigs are available in the event of a power failure, mechanical breakdown, or other emergency situation.
  • Pigs must not be tethered as part of their normal housing systems.

1.1.2 Gestating Gilts and Sows

  • For all holdings newly built or rebuilt or brought into use for the first time after July 1, 2014, mated gilts and sows must be housed in groups. Individual stalls may be used for up to 28 days after the date of last breeding and an additional period of up to 7 days is permitted to manage grouping. Time in stalls can only be extended to protect the welfare of individual sows on the advice of a competent stockperson.
  • All new installations and replacements of existing individual stalls that occur after July 1, 2014, must be sized appropriately to allow sows to:
    - stand up at rest in a stall without simultaneously touching both sides of the stall
    - lie down without their udders protruding into adjacent stalls
    - stand up without touching the top bars
    - stand in a stall without simultaneously touching both ends of the stall.
  • As of July 1, 2024, mated gilts and sows must be housed:
    - in groups*; or
    - in individual pens; or
    - in stalls, if they are provided with the opportunity to turn around or exercise periodically, or other means that allow greater freedom of movement. Suitable options will be clarified by the participating stakeholders by July 1, 2019, as informed by scientific evidence.

* If housed in groups, individual stalls may be used for up to 28 days after the date of last breeding, and an additional period of up to 7 days is permitted to manage grouping.

1.1.3 Nursing Sows with Piglets

  • The length of a farrowing crate must allow the sow enough room to move forward and backward, and to lie down unhindered by a raised trough or rear gate.
  • When standing in a normal position in a farrowing crate, the sow must not touch both sides of the crate (not including anti-crush rails) simultaneously, and her back must not touch any bars along the top.
  • Sows must not be kept in farrowing crates for more than 6 weeks in any one reproductive cycle except in exceptional circumstances (e.g. when a sow is required to foster a second litter).
  • The farrowing system must provide an area to which the piglets can retreat when the sow moves.

1.1.6 Boars

  • Boars must be able to stand, lie down, and adopt normal resting postures without undue interference.
  • For all holdings newly built or brought into use for the first time after July 1, 2014, boars must be provided with sufficient space so that they can stand, turn around, and lie comfortably in a natural position.
  • As of July 1, 2024, boars must be housed
    - in individual pens; or
    - in stalls, if they are provided with the opportunity to turn around or exercise periodically, or other means that allows greater freedom of movement. Suitable options will be clarified by the participating stakeholders by July 1, 2019, as informed by scientific evidence.

1.2.1 Sow Space Allowances

  • All group housed sows must be able to stand, move about and lie down without interference with each other in a way that compromises welfare, and space must be provided for separation of dunging from lying and eating areas.

1.2.2 Weaned/Grower/Finisher Pig Space Allowances

  • Pigs must be housed at a space allowance of k ≥ 0.0335. When a short-term decrease in space allowance is needed at the end of the production phase:
    - a decrease of up to 15 % for nursery pigs and up to 10% for grower/finisher pigs is allowed
    - a decrease of up to 20% for nursery pigs and up to 15% for grower/finisher pigs is allowed only if it is demonstrated that the higher densities do not compromise the welfare of the animals as determined by average daily gain, mortality, morbidity and treatment records, as well as the absence of or no increase in vices such as tail-biting.

1.3 Facilities for Sick and Injured Pigs

  • Every pig production facility must have the ability to segregate sick or injured pigs in a separate area where the necessary treatment can be administered.

1.4 Environmental Management: Temperature, Ventilation and Air Quality

  • Environmental control systems must be designed, constructed and maintained in a manner that allows for temperatures, fresh air, and hygienic conditions that promote health and welfare for pigs.
  • Newborn piglets must be housed at temperatures that will assist them to reach and maintain normal body temperatures.
  • Reasonable steps must be taken to help prevent and manage housed pigs from becoming overheated or cold stressed.

1.5 Lighting

  • Sufficient lighting must be available to permit thorough inspection of pigs and facilities at any time, and for normal husbandry practices.
  • A minimum of 50 lux of lighting (described as bright enough to allow a person of normal sight to read standard newspaper print) must be provided for a minimum of 8 hours per day.
  • Pigs must have access to a darkened area (i.e. ~5 lux or less, with the exception of heat devices in farrowing areas and the first 48 hours for newly weaned pigs) for at least 6 consecutive hours per day (9).

1.6 Flooring and Bedding Management

  • Flooring must be designed and maintained to minimize slipping.
  • Flooring must be designed, constructed and maintained in a manner that does not cause injury or suffering to pigs standing or lying on them, and must contribute to pig comfort.
  • Where bedding is provided, it must be clean, dry, and not harmful to the pigs.

1.7 Feeding/Watering Areas

  • Feeders and waterers must be constructed, located, and maintained in a way that makes them available for use by all pigs in that area.

1.8 Enrichment

  • Pigs must be provided with multiple forms of enrichment that aim to improve the welfare of the animals through the enhancement of their physical and social environments.

1.9 Outdoor Housing

  • Nose rings must not be used.
  • Pigs must have access to shelter that minimizes the effects of adverse weather and provides a dry resting area and shade.
  • A protocol must be developed and implemented that protects pigs from parasites and predators.

Section 2 Feed and Water

2.1 Nutrition and Feed Management

  • Pigs must be provided with daily access to feed that maintains their health and meets their physiological requirements.
  • Pigs must be fed a diet which is appropriate to their species, age, and production phase.
  • Feed must be provided in such a way so as to prevent competition resulting in injury or excessive weight variation within the group.
  • Corrective action must be taken if there is a significant reduction of feed intake.

2.1.1 Nursing Piglets

  • All piglets must have access to colostrum as soon as possible after birth, and within 12 hours.
  • Piglets at risk of dying from inadequate nourishment must be cross-fostered, split suckled, hand-reared or euthanized. Refer to Section 6 – Euthanasia.
  • Creep feed must be provided to nursing piglets after 28 days of age to help maintain sow body condition.
  • Supplemental iron must be administered to piglets reared indoors to prevent nutritional anemia.

2.1.2 Newly Weaned Pigs: First Week

  • All newly weaned pigs must have continuous access to fresh feed and feeder design must be appropriate for the size of the pigs.
  • All newly weaned pigs must be observed frequently in the period following weaning to ensure that all are eating.

2.1.5 Gestating and Farrowing Sows

  • Sows must be fed daily to meet nutritional requirements.

2.1.6 Lactating Sows

  • Feeding strategies must be developed and followed to minimize sow condition loss and optimize milk production.

2.2 Body Condition Scoring for Breeding Stock

  • Corrective action must be taken for animals at a BCS of less than 2 or more than 4.

2.3 Water

  • All pigs must have continual access to a supply of palatable water that is not harmful to health and in sufficient quantity to meet the needs of the animals.
  • Liquid feeding systems must be supplemented with a separate source of water that is palatable and safe.
  • Water must be tested at least annually to ensure its suitability for the animals and corrective actions must be taken as necessary.
  • A contingency plan to provide water in the event of an interruption or contamination of the supply of water to the animals must be established.

Section 3 Animal Health

3.2 Herd Health Management Program

  • A working relationship with a licensed veterinarian (VCPR) must be established.
  • A Herd Health Management Program must be developed in consultation with the herd veterinarian, and followed.

3.2.1 Reportable/Notifiable Diseases

  • A veterinarian must be advised of any suspected reportable disease.

3.3 Sick and Injured Animals

  • A standard operating procedure that details protocols for the identification, care, and humane treatment of sick or injured pigs must be developed and implemented.
  • All pigs must be examined daily for sickness and/or injury.
  • Pigs that are sick or injured must be monitored at a frequency appropriate to their conditions, and at least daily.
  • Pigs that are sick, injured, in pain, or suffering must be promptly treated, or be euthanized, or if fit for human consumption, slaughtered on-farm. Refer to Appendix J – Example of Decision Tree for Euthanasia.
  • Behavioural problems (vices) such as tail-biting, belly nosing, sucking, aggression and fighting must be investigated to identify the possible environment, feed, management or health factors causing the problem.

3.4.1 Recognizing Sickness Behaviour

  • Stockpersons must be knowledgeable of normal pig behaviour and signs of illness, injury and disease; or must work in conjunction with an experienced stockperson.

3.5 On-Farm Surgery

  • Surgical procedures (e.g. hernia repair, cryptorchidectomy) other than elective husbandry procedures (refer to Section 4.5) must be performed in consultation with a veterinarian and using appropriate anesthesia and analgesia. Major surgical procedures (e.g. caesarian section) must only be performed by a licensed veterinarian.
  • Stockpersons who perform on-farm procedures must be competent in performing those procedures.

3.6 Farrowing

  • Sows must be observed frequently around their expected farrowing times.
  • Upon discovering sows in farrowing difficulty, prompt assistance must be provided.
  • Sows must be provided with continuous access to water post-farrowing.

3.7 Newly Weaned Pigs

  • Weaning procedures that minimize negative impacts on the health and welfare of the piglets must be developed and followed.

3.8 Sanitation

  • A sanitation protocol must be developed for each production area of the barn and followed at least annually.
  • Manure must be removed and stored in a manner that promotes the health and welfare of the animals.

3.10 Emergency and Safety

  • Emergency plans must be developed to ensure that alternative means of temperature regulation, ventilation, feeding, and watering of pigs are available in the event of a power failure, mechanical breakdown, or other emergency situation.

Section 4 Husbandry Practices

4.1 Handling, Moving, Restraining and Treating Animals

  • Use humane moving devices when moving pigs (e.g. chase boards, shakers).
  • Electric prods must only be used as a last resort and never as the primary driving device. When necessary, use of prods must be restricted to the back and hind quarters on lead pigs, but never used in the anal and genital areas, and only when there is a clear path for them to move forward.
  • Electric prods must not be used in the finishing pen.
  • Electric prods must not be used on piglets, nursery, distressed, sick or injured pigs (refer to the Glossary for the definition of distressed).
  • Pigs must not be handled aggressively (e.g. kicked, walked on top of, picked up or suspended or pulled by one front leg, ears or tail).
  • Pigs that become distressed during handling must be attended to immediately.
  • Pigs must only be restrained for as long as necessary and only appropriate, well-maintained restraint devices must be used.

4.2 Stockmanship Skills Related to Animal Welfare

  • Handlers must be competent in low-stress pig handling methods.

4.3 Mixing Pigs

  • Strategies to minimize or eliminate aggression must be developed and followed.

4.4 Breeding

  • Breeding practices must not cause injury or suffering to any of the animals.
  • Boars housed in stalls must be provided with opportunities for exercise at least 4 times per week.
  • Gilts must not be bred before achieving adequate body weight and condition, age, and maturity to ensure the health and welfare of the gilts and their litters.

4.5 Elective Husbandry Procedures

  • Elective husbandry procedures must only be carried out by competent stockpersons.
  • Properly maintained equipment must be used and hygienic conditions must be maintained.
  • The need for all elective procedures and alternative options must be reviewed and evaluated regularly.

4.5.1 Castration

  • Castration performed after 10 days of age must be done with anesthetic and analgesic to help control pain.
  • As of July 1, 2016, castration performed at any age must be done with analgesics to help control post-procedure pain.

4.5.2 Identification

  • Ear notching must only be performed on piglets when deemed necessary and when piglets are less than 14 days of age.

4.5.3 Tail Docking and Tail-Biting

  • Pigs must be routinely monitored for signs of tail-biting, and corrective action, as necessary, must be taken (e.g. assess possible contributing factors; remove tail-biter; add rooting and/or physical enrichment).
  • Tail docking of pigs over 7 days of age must be done with pain control.
  • As of July 1, 2016, tail-docking performed at any age must be done with analgesics to help control post-procedure pain.

4.5.4 Teeth Clipping

  • The need to clip piglets’ teeth must be evaluated, and the procedure performed only when deemed necessary.

4.5.5 Tusk Trimming

  • The pulp cavity must be avoided during tusk trimming.

Section 5 Transportation

5.1 Pre-Transport Planning

  • Pigs must be loaded, unloaded, handled, and transported by competent persons.
  • Pigs that are incompatible must not be mixed.

5.1.2 Preparing Newly Weaned Pigs for Transport

  • The vehicle or container must be bedded with clean straw, shavings, or other bedding material to provide effective insulation and comfort and to prevent the newly weaned pigs from developing hypothermia or frostbite.

5.2 Fitness for Transport

  • Unfit animals must not be loaded (28). Refer to Appendix L – “Should this Pig be Loaded?” Decision Tree for guidance for determining fitness.
  • Compromised animals that are able to be transported under special provisions must be shipped directly to local slaughter, not through auction markets.
  • Animals that cannot bear weight on all four legs must not be loaded; these animals will likely become non-ambulatory during transport.
  • Fitness for transport in the context of each trip, including relevant factors such as the anticipated total trip duration from farm to final destination, and prevailing weather conditions, must be evaluated.

5.3 Handling During Loading or Unloading

  • Pigs showing signs of distress prior to loading must not be loaded.

5.4 Loading/Unloading Facilities

  • Loading and unloading facilities must be constructed with safe and secure footholds and must be maintained to facilitate ease of movement, and to prevent pigs from falling off, escaping or being injured.

Section 6 Euthanasia

6.1 On-Farm Euthanasia Plans

  • In consultation with a licensed veterinarian, an on-farm written euthanasia plan to facilitate timely on-farm euthanasia must be developed and followed.
  • Individuals who euthanize pigs must be trained in the appropriate euthanasia methods. Refer to Appendix N – Methods of Euthanasia.

6.2 Decision-Making around Euthanasia

  • Pigs not responding to treatment and pigs with untreatable conditions that compromise welfare, if not fit for transport, must be promptly euthanized or slaughtered on-farm (if fit for human consumption) in accordance with provincial regulations.

6.3 Methods of Euthanasia

  • An acceptable method for euthanizing pigs must be used. Refer to Appendix N – Methods of Euthanasia.
  • The method used to euthanize pigs must be administered in a manner that is quick and causes the least possible pain and distress.
  • Prior to being euthanized, animals must not be dragged, prodded, forced to move on broken limbs, or made to move when pain and suffering will occur.

6.4 Confirmation of Death

  • Animals must be evaluated for insensibility immediately following the application of the euthanasia method. A backup method of euthanasia must be immediately applied if an animal shows signs of returning to sensibility. Refer to Appendix N – Methods of Euthanasia.
    Death must always be confirmed when euthanizing animals before moving or leaving the animal.