Module 1 Pig Welfare, Slaughter and Biosecurity

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5 Pig welfare

Last Updated: 10 Jan 2022.

5.1 Animal welfare policy & officers

5.1.1 Each abattoir shall have a documented animal welfare policy and associated standard operating procedures (SOP`s) that detail staff duties and responsibilities that relate to maintaining high standards of animal welfare and resolving any welfare related incidents that occur during the handling and movement of pigs whilst on site, and during the lairaging, stunning and sticking operations. 

5.1.2 All staff (lairage, security and abattoir personnel as appropriate) handling or monitoring live pigs shall be trained against the abattoir’s animal welfare policy and standard operating procedures (SOPs). 

5.1.3 Training records shall be maintained.

5.1.4 The policy and associated procedures shall be reviewed and updated at least annually.

5.1.5 There shall be evidence of actions taken when incidents occur.


The policy and procedures shall be aligned to relevant legislation, cover the scope of this clause, practical and implemented fully. The procedures shall consider actions to be taken in the event of flooding and fire, including the movement of pigs to approved emergency lairage/pig collection facilities if deemed necessary. Ideally, the animal welfare policy may be displayed in the lairage office.


Copy of Animal Welfare Policy and aligned SOPs. Staff training records. Evidence of last review date and updates. Review of actions taken when incidents occur.

5.2 Animal welfare officers

5.2.1 The site shall have undertaken a documented risk assessment to determine the number of employees that need to be appointed as an animal welfare officer (AWO)who have responsibility for overseeing the animal welfare aspects of unloading, lairaging and slaughter of pigs. 

5.2.2 As a minimum, responsibility for animal welfare shall be specifically assigned to a trained and competent AWO. The AWO shallattend the Bristol University, Humane Slaughter Association, Livestock-wise or an equivalent animal welfare course recognised by the BMPA. The site shall retain a copy of all training certificates.

5.2.3 There shall be at least one trained AWO on duty during the operation of the slaughter lines, to check that all pigs are handled with care during unloading, lairaging, penning and slaughter, ensuring compliance with legislation and the BMPA Pig Welfare, Slaughter, and Biosecurity module. 

5.2.4 Daily checks on the welfare conditions of randomly selected batches of pigs shall be assessed and documented on arrival by the AWO or competent deputy.


Trained AWOs are responsible for overseeing the unloading, carriage and passage of pigs to the point of slaughter. The following may be considered (not exhaustive):

  • delivery schedules (including out of hours/weekends)
  • number of AWOs required to cover all relevant processes, e.g. unloading/lairage and slaughter
  • number of pigs being processed aligned to kill rate
  • adequate cover in the event of holidays/sickness
  • where a single AWO is present, the operative shall adhere to company procedures when moving between lairage and abattoir to ensure food safety procedures are not being compromised.

The scope of the animal welfare training course shall be appropriate to the activities of the site. Copies of animal welfare training certificates shall be readily available for review by the service provider at the time of the audit. Note that this training is in addition to the legally required certificates of competence. Refer to the Guide to Good Practice – Welfare at Slaughter for procedure examples


In deciding if conformance has been met, the auditor shall review the risk assessment study and check that the conclusions of the study are appropriate. Additional evidence shall be copies of AWO welfare training certificates. Examples of daily checks on the welfare conditions of pigs. 

5.3 CCTV

5.3.1 The charter participant shall have a functional and secure closed-circuit television (CCTV) system which provides clear visibility of all aspects of the process that could, if not adequately controlled, adversely impact animal welfare. 

5.3.2 CCTV shall be recorded always where animals are undergoing the following processes:

  • Unloading from vehicles in the lairage 
  • Lairaging (including the movement of animals out of the lairage towards the stun point)
  • Entering a controlled atmosphere system (where applicable)
  • Stunning (including animals approaching the stun area)
  • Shackling (including the shackling of animals following gas killing)
  • Sticking

5.3.3 Documented weekly checks of the footage shall be made by the AWO or competent deputy to ensure that the CCTV system is working and that it is being reviewed to ensure that staff are adhering to the SOPs as described in clause 4.1.

5.3.4 The site shall allow the OV access to CCTV footage

5.3.5 CCTV footage shall be securely stored for a minimum of three months and only accessible to nominated staff. 

5.3.6 Evidence of actions taken when incidents occur


Visibility of location of CCTV from unloading from vehicles to sticking. Verification of CCTV operating at time of auditDocumented checks and CCTV footage shall be available to the service provider if required at time of audit. Verification of storage period of CCTV footage. 

5.4 Animal arrivals system & facilities

5.4.1 Facilities shall be provided at the abattoir lairage for the unloading of pigs. The angle between the tail ramps and the unloading ramp shall be no steeper than 20°. 

5.4.2 Where there is evidence of pigs slipping or falling then the angle of the unloading ramp should be checked and any non-compliance reported to the Red Tractor Livestock Transport Scheme. 

5.4.3 Charter participants shall use a planned arrivals system and provide livestock vehicle drivers with advanced notice of their allocated time slots for delivering pigs to the site. There shall be a system in place to allow drivers to notify the site if they are more than an hour late.

5.4.4 The charter participant shall have completed the unloading of the pigs at the lairage within 45 minutes of the livestock vehicle arriving on site. The time the livestock vehicle arrives on site to the time the last pig has been unloaded at the lairage shall be recorded.

5.4.5 Where vehicles arrive at the site more than 30 minutes prior to their planned arrival time, and it is not possible to unload within 45 minutes (see 5.5(b), an AWO shall carry out a documented welfare risk assessment to assess the condition and welfare of the pigs. Where concerns are raised, priority shall be given to the unloading of these animals before their planned unloading slot.

5.4.6 The risk assessment shall further consider whether conditions and circumstances (e.g. type and number of vehicles, length of journey time, weather conditions, road accidents) would allow the pigs to remain on the vehicle, without detriment to their welfare, until the planned arrival slot. 

5.4.7 Where the AWO decides that it is acceptable for the pigs to remain on the vehicle, welfare of the pigs shall be monitored at regular intervals (not less than every hour) and details recorded.

5.4.8 The risk assessment study and any monitoring shall be readily available for review by the service provider.

5.4.9 The unloading of pigs shall be carried out in a calm manner so as not to compromise the welfare of the pigs. 

5.4.10 Documented routine monitoring of the process shall be carried out by the AWO or competent deputy.

5.4.11 The condition of all pigs shall be monitored during unloading. 

5.4.12 Animals identified by the OV/AWO as being in distress shall be segregated and dealt with in accordance with a documented SOP for casualty pigs. 

5.4.13 Pigs considered by the OV/AWO to require emergency slaughter shall be excluded from the BMPA Pig Welfare, Slaughter, and Biosecurity module. Records shall be kept demonstrating the control and segregation of pigs excluded from the charter.

5.4.14 The site shall operate a system for the recording and reporting back to producers where the cleanliness and/or condition of pigs is considered unsatisfactory. Persistent offenders shall be reported to the appropriate assurance scheme by the abattoir.

5.4.15 The site shall grade the pigs on cleanliness at the point of arrival to ensure they are fit for slaughter

5.4.16 After unloading, the pigs shall be held in clean pens. 

5.4.17 Pigs from different farms shall not be mixed but sub-division is permissible.

5.4.18 Records shall be maintained of all deliveries and the lairage pens to which the pigs have been allocated.


5.4.1 to 5.4.2 The site shall have in place a system that can measure the angle between the tail ramp and the unloading facilities. Further guidance can be obtained by reference to the Red Tractor Farm Assurance Transport Scheme. The animal welfare officer is responsible for monitoring livestock vehicles against the transport checklist (see Appendix 2).

5.4.3 to 5.4.8 Livestock vehicles would normally arrive within 30 minutes of their planned arrival time. The scope of the documented risk assessment shall have considered potential welfare issues arising from unscheduled delivery times e.g. weather conditions or unforeseen road traffic management controls e.g. accident. 

5.4.9 to 5.4.10 Procedures shall be in place to ensure that legislation and industry standards are being met.

5.4.11 to 5.4.13 Traceability of excluded pork raw material shall be retained.

5.4.14 to 5.4.15 Records of communication to the producer shall be retained. The report to the producer shall include a requirement of the producer to instigate immediate corrective action and a system for continual monitoring. The producer shall be expected to report/liaise with the abattoir.


5.4.1 to 5.4.2 Records of measurements and examples of transport checklists since the last audit. Where applicable, any non-conformances raised since the last audit shall be accompanied by evidence of correspondence to RTA and the BMPA service provider.

5.4.3 to 5.4.8 The auditor shall require verification from the charter participant of the planned arrival system used including the welfare advice given to the livestock vehicle drivers. Copy of risk assessment study and records of welfare monitoring. Records relating to the time the livestock vehicle arrived at the security point at the site to the unloading of the last pig at the lairage, and the system by which drivers notify sites of any delays should be reviewed.

5.4.9 to 5.4.10 Visual inspection. Examples of records since the last audit.

5.4.11 to 5.4.13 Animals may display signs of distress such as reluctance to move and panting. As the competent individual, the OV/AWO will make the decision whether the animal is too stressed to move and therefore requires immediate killing and exclusion from the charter, or whether it may be moved to an isolation pen to recover prior to slaughter and processing in the usual manner. Review of staff training records. List of casualties and traceability records. Review SOP for dealing with casualty pigs and their exclusion from the charter.

5.4.14 to 5.4.15 Visual inspection of pigs on arrival, using a grading system such as 1-5 based on photographic standards. Examples of monitoring records. 

5.4.16 to 5.4.18 Examples of lairage intake records and verification of system of allocating pigs to pens and any sub-divisions that may have occurred. Records should be sampled.

5.5 Handling injured or unfit pigs

The requirements for the handling of injured or unfit pigs are as follows:

5.5.1 The site shall have a system in place for the identification and isolation of casualty and unfit pigs on the livestock vehicle and in the lairage

5.5.2 A documented SOP shall be in place covering emergency slaughter, the use of isolation pens and handling of casualty/unfit pigs. Training records for staff involved in these duties shall be available.

5.5.3 The isolation pen shall be fit for purpose, clearly identified, used only for the purpose of isolation, and be available for use whilst pigs are being received and kept in the lairage. 

5.5.4 Fresh/clean water shall be available at all times.

5.5.5 Adequate, clean and dry bedding shall be available.

5.5.6 Pigs shall not be held in isolation pens if it would cause them distress to do so. – the OV/AWO shall carry out a documented risk assessment and record all actions taken.

 5.5.7 Records shall be held for all casualties. The appropriate movement documentation shall accompany any casualty to the abattoir.


All lairage personnel shall be aware of the procedures and have been trained against the system. Isolation pens shall not be used for the storage of materials e.g. redundant equipment. Where bedding is required e.g. over-night lairaging then this can be either wood chips, straw, rubber matting or shredded paper

The site should have the European Commission factsheet on handling and movement of pigs available. This can be found here


Review facilities, staff training records, and examples of lairage records, emergency slaughter records and admission of any casualty pigs.

5.6 The lairage

5.6.1 The site shall have documented SOP`s for the cleansing and disinfection of the lairage and staff shall be trained against it. As a minimum, the documented procedures shall detail the following requirements: 

  • methodology of cleansing to 
  • include disinfection
  • frequency of cleansing
  • cleaning chemicals to use
  • chemical dilution rates
  • contact times
  • safe use and storage of cleaning chemicals
  • review of cleaning standards

5.6.2 The lairage shall be fit for purpose, well maintained, with adequate lighting and ventilation and laid out in a manner that allows the easy movement of pigs without compromising animal welfare

5.6.3 All pigs shall be able to lie down in the lairage pen simultaneously. 

5.6.4 The stocking density shall not exceed 235kg per square metre. Evidence of stocking density calculations are to be available.

5.6.5 The plan of lairage pens in square metres with allocated stocking numbers for day and night time holding shall be available in the lairage.

5.6.6 Pigs must be grouped appropriately to avoid fighting, bullying, injury or distress

5.6.7 While in the lairage, pigs shall have access to an adequate supply of fresh clean water always.

5.6.8 Daily checks shall be undertaken to ensure that there is an adequate supply of fresh clean water for pigs in the lairage always.

5.6.9 The site shall have a documented plan for contingency should there be an interruption in water supply

5.6.10 Facilities shall be in place for the showering (misting) of pigs within the lairage pen.

5.6.11 Documented procedures for the operation of the system shall be in place and consider any potential welfare implications aligned to the temperature of water and its usage during cold weather.

5.6.12 Daily checks shall be undertaken to monitor and record that the showering system is functioning satisfactory.

5.6.13 Pigs held for over 12 hours shall be given adequate farm assured feed in accordance with the relevant pig farm assurance standard. 

5.6.14 Records of feeding shall be maintained and be traceable.

5.6.15 Standard operating procedures (SOP`s) shall be readily available that outline guidance on how to facilitate the movement of pigs within the lairage up to the point of stunning.

5.6.16 All staff handling or monitoring live pigs shall have a valid certificate of competency against these procedures. Training records shall be maintained.

5.6.17 Driving boards, paddles or mechanised moveable gates may be used to move pigs in the required direction. 

5.6.18 Electric goads shall not be used by either site personnel or drivers. 


5.6.1 It is anticipated that the cleansing of pens between batches would be through use of hot water only given that there shall be animals remaining in the lairage, with a full chemical clean being carried out as a minimum weekly when the lairage is empty of livestock.

5.6.2 to 5.6.6 When calculating the stocking density of pens the site shall consider the size of the pigs to determine the maximum number in any one lairage pen. Lairage personnel shall be aware of stocking densities. Pigs from different farms should not be mixed.

5.6.10 to 5.6 12 Refer to the Guide to Good Practice – Welfare at Slaughter for further guidance.

5.6.16 Personnel shall be able to demonstrate good animal welfare practices.


5.6.1 Review training records and copy of cleaning manual. Review examples of hygiene and lairage staff training records. 

5.6.2 to 5.6.6 Review lairage plan, Calculations of stocking densities. Visual inspection of pigs in pens and perceived stocking densities.

5.6.7 to 5.6.9 Daily documented checks of water supply. Visual inspection of facilities. Contingency plan.

5.6.10 to 5.6 12 Daily documented checks of showering system. Visual inspection of facilities.

5.6.13 Review of farm assurance certificate of assurance for pig feed, feeding records and delivery notes of feed delivered to the site.5.6.16 Procedures aligned to animal welfare. Training records for staff, and wall notices/work instructions detailing the pig handling requirements Visual inspection of animal handling.