The president of COAG in the Region of Cartagena, Vicente Carrión, considered that the resolution of the European Parliament that asks end cage farming within the EU gradually before 2027 it will inevitably “affect” the final consumer, since it could increase the price of the egg product by up to 20%.
In the case of the pig sector, he has warned that this regulation would make the activity unviable because it would mean ending the cages in which the sows are housed when they give birth to prevent them from crushing the piglets when lying down to give them suck. «Leaving the sow free would increase the mortality of the offspring and it would make the sector unsustainable, “he said.
Carrión has recognized that the situation is “complex” because it is a regulation that “obviously must be complied with, there is no doubt.” It obeys something that farmers have “very present, which is the issue of animal welfare”, because “there is no livestock stabling that could harm productivity or that may cause any damage to livestock, “he said.
The measure approved this Thursday by the European Parliament would affect production and, therefore, profitability would be “reduced”, according to Carrión. Fundamentally, it would affect two types of farms on which animal welfare and EU directives are focused: the pig sector (breeders) and the poultry sector (layers). In the case of the pig sector, Carrión recalled that previously there were farms in which sows were crammed into individual cages during gestation, but that has already been “overcome.”
Of course, at present, when the sow gives birth it is put in a cage for 20 or 21 days to prevent crushing when lying down to suckle the piglets. “If they are not in the cage, the sow normally lies down in the areas close to the wall: it is dropped and the piglets are usually sheltering from the cold also attached to the wall,” he warned.
For this reason, “when the sow is free, crushing occurs”, according to Carrión, who explains that this obviously does not interest the farmer. For this reason, he considers it advisable that the mother, for a short period of 20 or 21 days, remain in the cage, with enough surface area so that she can lie down and get up. In addition, he affirmed that the animal has food and drink freely available. With that, piglet mortality is avoided that he would have had the sow free in a stable. This practice, in his opinion, “is normal and also advisable” because it “contributes to both animal welfare and productivity.”
In the case of the poultry sector, he explained that cages must have larger dimensions and now there can only be one hen where before three entered. Carrión estimates that the size will have to be expanded, doubling or tripling in some cases the area to house the same census of animals.
You have noticed that this is producing a increased investment by the farmer, both in the pig and poultry sectors. And it is that it has to enable more space for the same animals, which implies expenses that, until now, are assumed by the producer, seeing reduced the profitability of the farm.
The investment will have an impact on the value of the product
“What is not so clear is that this will continue like this, without the farmer having to affect this increase in the final value of the animal or the eggs because, otherwise, the livestock would cease to be profitable and the activity would disappear”, according to Carrión.
In his opinion, “society has to understand that this investment has to have an impact on the value of the product for consumption.” In his opinion, it is something “logical and fair.” «It is good that these measures are established and that animal welfare is guaranteed, of course, but that supposes a substantial increase in production costs that have to have an impact on the product, “he added.
Carrión stated that all the laying hens that use this exploitation system are affected. However, the laying hen sector is experiencing an increase in free-range hens that are loose and need much more space and other living conditions different from those of hens that are crammed into cages, in batteries.
In the case of pigs, for the president of COAG in Cartagena, the regulations should be “corrected” or, at least, prevent the sow from crushing the piglets during the first 20 or 21 days after giving birth. And it is that, for now, “There is no viable alternative”.
Carrión recalled that the poultry sector is important for the Region of Murcia, but not as important as the pig sector, which is “very relevant.” To get an idea, he explains that the Region has more than two million bait places and approximately 180,000 reproductive mothers.