Pigs - what are we doing?

RSPCA welfare standards


We encourage pig producers to adopt our RSPCA welfare standards for pigs, which have been developed to ensure that higher standards of welfare are met at all stages of the animals' lives.

Some examples of the requirements of the RSPCA welfare standards for pigs: 

  • Piglets in arc with straw © Andrew Forsyth/RSPCA Photolibrary
    All pigs must be provided with bedding and environmental enrichment - either straw or other similar suitable material.  
  • Surgical castration is prohibited.
  • We do not permit the use of farrowing crates. Equipment that has the potential to confine the sow for farrowing must not be present.
  • Teeth clipping, nose ringing and tail docking are not permitted except in exceptional circumstances. Even then, the herd veterinary surgeon and the farmer must write in to the RSPCA, setting out what other measures have been taken to avoid carrying out these practices. In addition, certain other standards must be met before permission will be granted. 

Advocacy / lobbying work

Our scientific staff represent the RSPCA on a number of government and industry committees, including the Pig Health and Welfare Council. We were also invited to participate in a series of workshops on the issue of piglet castration, which were part of a large EU project.

Research projects

Being involved with research projects and using the latest relevant scientific research helps to inform the RSPCA welfare standards and wider RSPCA policy.

We have been involved in a number of pig welfare research projects (both providing funding, and/or as members of the project steering groups), including: 

  • reducing tail biting in pigs.
  • higher welfare indoor alternatives to the farrowing crate.
  • reducing aggression between pigs.
  • avoidance of nose-ringing in outdoor pigs.

Visit our research projects page for further details of our animal welfare research.

If you're concerned about pig welfare, you may like to know more about how you can help.

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