The PigCare™ accreditation programme is a world class assessment of on-farm welfare of pigs providing assurance of the high welfare standards for pigs farmed in New Zealand.It was developed by Massey University, is independently managed with auditing undertaken by trained and calibrated auditors.
PigCare™ accreditation means:
When buying pork products featuring the PigCare™ label, consumers can be confident they are supporting high animal welfare standards. Only pork products from PigCare™ accredited farms can carry the 100% New Zealand pork, bacon and ham logos. PigCare™ is cross-referenced to the minimum standards contained in the current welfare code (Animal Welfare (Pigs) Code of Welfare 2010). New Zealand is recognised as having some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world.
PigCare™ was developed by Massey University with the support of veterinarians, pig farmers, NZPork and MPI (when they were known as Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries). It was then reviewed internationally, before being implemented.
Find out about how PigCare™ works here.
Auditors are trained and calibrated, visiting each farm annually. They check the pigs, the farm buildings, facilities and husbandry practices. The audit also identifies opportunities for farmers to further improve. If any breaches of the Animal Welfare Act are observed they are reported to MPI’s (Ministry for Primary Industries) animal welfare compliance group. Find out more about the audit process here.
Who does the auditing?
Auditing is carried out by trained assessors and the audit process is administered by Quality Consultants New Zealand Ltd (QCONZ). QCONZ (Quality Consultants New Zealand Ltd) operates in the primary industry with a core competence in the development and delivery of quality-based auditing and advisory services and training to the Primary Industry. Find out more about QCONZ here.
All New Zealand commercial pig farms are audited every year. Find out more about how auditing works here.
PigCare™ is available to all pig owners in New Zealand. However, imported pork has not been assessed against the PigCare™ standards and cannot carry the 100% New Zealand Pork PigCare™ Accredited label. To be sure you are supporting good animal welfare, you need to look for the ‘PigCare™ Accredited 100% New Zealand pork, bacon or ham’ labels when buying pork products.
What about the law?
New Zealand’s animal welfare legislation is highly regarded internationally.
The Animal Welfare Act 1999 sets out general obligations for the care of animals. These include a ‘duty of care’ on all animal owners/person in charge to provide for welfare and alleviate pain and distress.
As well as the Act, specific ‘Codes of Welfare’ set minimum standards for each species. The Animal Welfare (Pigs) Code of Welfare 2010 is based on good practice and scientific knowledge and ensures pig owners provide for the physical, health and behavioural needs of their pigs.
These needs are fully defined in the Act, but can be summarised as: food and water, shelter, opportunity to display normal patterns of behaviour, good handling and protection from injury or disease.
Complying with the Code is the responsibility of pig owner(s)/person(s) in charge. A copy of the Code can be found here. Administering and enforcing animal welfare is the responsibility of MPI and Inspectors under the Animal Welfare Act. You can find out more here.
Are there checks or rules other than PigCare™?
In New Zealand every pig sent to the abattoir is inspected both before and after slaughter to make sure it is healthy and well cared for, and that it is safe for people to eat. Because the majority of New Zealand’s commercial pig herd goes through an abattoir, this process provides another welfare check.
In addition, most commercial farms plan regular veterinarian visits. Veterinarians are ethically bound to protect animal welfare and alleviate suffering. If they find a possible breach of animal welfare legislation they must report the case to an Inspector under the Animal Welfare Act.
In addition, NZPork has an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) with MPI. This is an agreement that sets out how welfare issues will be reported and corrected. Our industry works with veterinarians, MPI officials and individual farmers to help resolve any welfare issues.
Animal Welfare vs Animal Rights – What’s the difference?
‘Animal welfare’ is very different from ‘animal rights’. Sometimes the two get confused.
Animal welfare is about meeting the needs of animals. Good animal welfare regulations:
The animal rights philosophy at the extreme believes animals are equal to humans and that no benefit to humans outweighs the ‘equal rights’ of the animal. At this extreme the animal rights movement does not acknowledge a human ‘right’ to own a pet or farm an animal.
Some animal rights campaigners argue that killing (for any reason), farming, owning or managing animals in any way other than it would live ‘in the wild’ is morally wrong.These campaigners believe in making it illegal to farm animals, use them for research, have them as pets or for any other ‘human use’.
MPI is the government agency responsible for developing, implementing and enforcing animal welfare regulations.
How do I report an Animal Welfare concern?
Report animal welfare breaches or concerns to Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI). Call 0800 00 83 33 or to find out more, visit their website.