HC Deb 25 January 2001 vol 361 cc699-700W
Mr. Ian Stewart

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the progress of the Government-funded research into the development and testing of commercially viable farrowing systems which do not closely confine the SOW. [146865]

Mr. Morley

We have, for a number of years, funded research directly or indirectly related to the welfare of the sow and her piglets, from farrowing to weaning. A key issue emerging is that changes in farrowing systems to improve sow welfare can frequently have an adverse effect on the welfare of the piglets. As a result, we are not yet able unreservedly to recommend free-farrowing systems for widespread commercial adoption.

Our research, and chat of others, continues. Our aim is to reach a position where it is possible to avoid the close confinement of all sows.