could be given footballs or even chains to play with under new animal
Farmers are to be told that they must put "manipulable" materials
in sties to promote the welfare of pigs under laws in force from
1st February 2003.
The regulations are based on veterinary advice which recommends
putting objects such as footballs in stalls to help calm restless
"For many years now vets have been suggesting that you put a football
or something to kick around into the stall with a horse if it is
restless," said a spokesman for the Department of the Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).
"Basically, the same is true for pigs. If you put in a football
or you dangle a chain they could nose it around and play with it,
it is helpful."
He said the regulations required all pigs to have access to a "sufficient
quantity of manipulable materials".
"While straw and hay would do, obviously the use of a football or
a chain would also do," he added.
who fail to follow the new regulations could be fined up to £2,500
but would not face a jail sentence.
Joyce D'Silva, chief executive of Compassion in World Farming, said:
"With this announcement, Defra are completely trivialising animal
"The EU Directive on providing pigs with 'manipulable material'
is a welfare measure designed to ensure they can carry out their
natural rooting behaviour - instead of living on barren, concrete
"The intention is to provide pigs with materials like straw or mushroom
compost to allow them to root - not basketballs as quoted by Defra.
"It is quite clear that there are people in Defra with little knowledge
of pigs, apart from perhaps those they see in Hamleys toy shop.
"It is also a complete misinterpretation of the spirit - and almost
certainly - the letter of the law. Compassion in World Farming is
consulting its legal aid team regarding further action."
Jim Dougal, head of the European Commission in the UK, said: "If
the UK wants to tell farmers that they should supply toys for their
pigs, that is a matter for them.
"The EU legislation says pigs should have access to such things
as straw, hay, wood, sawdust, compost or peat. There is no mention
of toys in the EU directive."
Animal Welfare Minister Elliot Morley said: "Like many Euro myths,
to suggest farmers are being ordered to give pigs toys is not true.
"Although it sounds amusing, there is a serious point to animal
welfare behind the new pig directive which requires animals to have
access to manipulable materials.
"This and other forms of environmental enrichment are examples of
good management and it is already included in industry-run quality
assurance schemes which farmers have applied for many years."