Officials of EU Member States and EURCAW-Pigs experts met in first annual meeting

Published on
December 24, 2021

On October 4 and 5, EURCAW-Pigs organised a first annual meeting for Competent Authorities and policy workers of EU Member States on pig welfare legislation. Aim of the meeting was to discuss obstacles and to answer questions that inspectors and other officials may encounter in their daily work.

Previous meetings were held in different regions of Europe with relatively small groups of officials and experts from the Reference Centre. This was the first annual meeting targeting all EU Member States. In total, 81 delegates from 21 MS participated. Sixty-four of them were Member State officials. Furthermore, the meeting was attended by 3 delegates from DG SANTE, 4 staff members of the other 2 EU Reference Centres, and almost the full team of EURCAW-Pigs.


The participants were welcomed by Hans Spoolder, director and coordinator of EURCAW-Pigs. He also gave the word to Kirsten Vornhagen of DG SANTE. She mentioned the Commission’s ambitions in the ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy and the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘End the Cage Age’. Thereafter, the proposers of five topics were asked to introduce their topic in a short presentation. Following these ‘pitches’, the topics were further discussed in subgroups, in 3 consecutive rounds. For each topic, a different EURCAW-Pigs expert listened to the concerns, questions, personal experiences, and possible solutions added by the delegates.

Wrap-up five topics

On the second day, each expert addressed the issues raised by the subgroups. The topics and related specific issues were:

  • Topic 1: Transport of pigs - What issues do MS encounter when assessing and transporting possibly unfit pigs? How to deal with temperature issues? What issues do MS encounter related to stocking density on the vehicle? Expert: Michael Marahrens, Animal welfare scientist and consultant, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI), Germany
  • Topic 2: Tail docking: Technical issues - Do dust levels in one or another way affect stress and tail biting levels? How do competition for and quality/composition of feed contribute to tail biting? What are suitable measures or indicators? Is there a link between tail and ear biting? Expert: Antonia Patt, animal welfare scientist, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI), Germany.
  • Topic 3: Farrowing house management – What are the main requirements for space? How should the farrowing pens be designed? Can joint lactation be used to increase weaning age? How can piglet mortality be reduced? Expert: Lene Juul Pedersen, Professor in animal welfare and precision livestock farming, Aarhus University, Denmark.
  • Topic 4: Slaughtering and killing of pigs - What are the issues related to and alternatives for CO2 stunning? Can you check unconsciousness with a device and/or toolbox with animal based indicators? What are the available methods for the mass depopulation of pigs in case of a disease outbreak? How to minimize pain and distress during on-farm euthanasia pigs? Expert: Marien Gerrtizen, senior scientist animal welfare, Wageningen Livestock Research, The Netherlands.
  • Topic 5: Tail docking: Action Plans – How do member states implement on farm ‘risk assessment’ required by the Action Plans? What is happening with the outcomes of the risk assessment? How can the Action Plans stimulate pig farmers in a Member State to “grow the tails back on”? Expert: Hans Spoolder, senior scientist in applied ethology, Wageningen Livestock Research, The Netherlands.

Introphoto (©WUR): intact tail