German state introduces premium for entire pig tails
As from July 1, pig farmers in the German state of Lower Saxony will be eligible for a premium in case they deliver pigs with entire tails to the slaughterhouse.
That was recently decided by the state's agricultural minister Christian Meyer. Per pig tail that is not docked or bitten, a premium of €16.50 will be available. In addition, Meyer will introduce a premium if the poultry industry would give up beak trimming – in that case €1.70 per bird.
Producers can apply for a premium for a maximum of 1,000 animals per farm per year. As an extra condition, at least 70% of all animals should have entire tails. Simultaneous rearing of pigs with and without tails in a group is not allowed.
Altogether, a fund of €28 million has been created for what is called in German a 'Ringelschwanzprämie' (curly tail premium). The means are derived from a budget for countryside development policy, partly funded by the European Union (EU). For the premium initiative, talks have been held with a range of experts as well as with the sector.
Initially, Meyer's plan was to not only introduce a premium, but also to completely ban tail docking. That plan, however, was abandoned. Instead, the pig industry's body ISN has announced to move towards the ending of the tail docking practice. Research will be done to support this goal.
Meyer said that the initiative set new frontiers for the entire country. Lower Saxony, he said, is 'the only state that has started a well-planned animal welfare premium'.
According to the state's agricultural ministry in Hanover, over one third of the total of Germany's pig herd is located in Lower Saxony – around 28 million.
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