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Updated Code for Canadian Pig Farmers Released

By Amanda Brodhagen,

A revised code of practice for hog farming in Canada was made public March 6, 2014.

The Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Pigs took three years to develop, and was led by a 17-person committee, which involved industry stakeholders including - pork producers, scientists, transporters, processors, government and animal welfare representatives.

The committee worked on a consensus basis. “There was a great divergence of opinions,” said committee member Curtiss Littlejohn.

Littlejohn is a retired pig farmer and now works for Canarm – a company that specializes in swine stabling products.

Significant changes to the code include phasing out gestation stalls by 2024, and adding a requirement to provide pain mitigation during castration and tail docking, starting July 2016.

In summer 2013, the code was open for public comment, where more than 4,700 responses were collected, which was then taken into consideration for the final draft. “We had comments from around the world,” explained Littlejohn.

After having undergone a long and vigorous development process, Littlejohn said he is content with the end result. “I believe that the updated code is a significant move forward for the Canadian swine industry,” he said.

But Littlejohn cautions while the work of revising the code has ended, implementing some of the changes may pose as a challenge.  “It doesn’t mean that change won’t come without some further controversy,” he said.

Littlejohn was referring to the changes made about the use of pain control, adding that there are target dates because the industry currently doesn’t have adequate tools on hand to meet demands outlined in the revised code.  

John de Bruyn, Vice Chair of Ontario Pork echoed much of Littlejohn’s thoughts on the new draft, but strayed away from speaking on behalf of producers.

“I think our producers will have to have some time to look at the code to see whether they are pleased with it or not,” he said. “As this code becomes implemented farmers are looking forward to assuring the consumer that we are providing them with a safe and nutritious product.”

The updated code can be viewed by clicking here.

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