Following extensive work by researchers at University of Bristol, University of Newcastle and RSPCA over several years, the AHDB Pork Real Welfare scheme was launched as a requirement of Red Tractor Farm Assurance on 1st April 2013.
What is Real Welfare?
Real Welfare involves on-farm assessment of pig welfare using a set of five objective and repeatable measures. These measures are known as ‘welfare outcomes’ which are animal-based, meaning that they are obtained from the animals themselves, rather than from their environment. Real Welfare was developed in response to the pig industry’s need for strong, science-based evidence to demonstrate its husbandry standards to retailers, animal welfare lobby groups, policy makers and consumers. To read more about how Real Welfare can benefit your business, click here.
What are the measures?
Sample pens of finisher pigs (>50kg) are assessed for the following:
- pigs that would benefit from removal to hospital pen
- lame pigs
- pigs with tail lesions
- pigs with body lesions
- enrichment provision
More information about how and why these are measured can be found by clicking here.
Who carries out the assessments?
Real Welfare assessments must be carried out by veterinary surgeons belonging to the Pig Veterinary Society. All vets wishing to carry out these assessments are required to undergo online and practical training click here for more information. The assessments can be done as part of the quarterly vet visits.
How many pigs are assessed?
Real Welfare assessments should take place 3 or 4 times per year. The vet carrying out the assessment will be trained in how to calculate the appropriate sampling numbers.
- For units of 300 finisher places or less, a minimum of 300 pigs should be sampled each year.
- For units of 900 finisher places or more, a total of 900 pigs should be sampled per year.
- For units of 300-900 finisher places, a representative proportion should be sampled.
- Some measures require a scan assessment of all pigs in a sample pen, while other measures are recorded from only a sample of individual pigs.
How is the data used?
Red Tractor and AHDB Pork do not have access to individual farm data. AHDB Pork manages the anonymised data set amalgamated across all units, which enables us to monitor welfare outcomes across the whole industry. Your vet is able to access your unit’s Real Welfare results and should discuss these with you, or producers can access their results by logging into Pig Hub.