DES MOINES - Following Tyson Foods’ announcement earlier today that it will urge its suppliers to implement a series of production practices that it deems representative of responsible food production—specifically, the use of video monitoring in sow farms, discontinuing manual blunt-force trauma as a primary method of euthanasia, the use of pain mitigation for tail docking and castration and recommending that sow housing built or renovated in 2014 and beyond provide adequate quality and quantity of space for gestating sows-- the National Pork Board responded to this news.

In a statement the NPB said it continues to recognize and promote the opportunity for producers, working with their veterinarians, to make the best decisions for their farms, families, employees and animals. “Producers need workable, credible and affordable solutions for improving animal care,” the statement added.

There are a number of important issues raised by Tyson’s announcement, the NPB relayed:
• At present, there are no approved drugs to use for pain mitigation in pig farming. “We strongly encourage pig farmers to work with their herd veterinarian to explore options to comply with Tyson's recommendation and to ensure all federal drug-use regulations are met appropriately under the Animal Medicinal Drug Use Clarification Act,” NPB said.

• There are numerous ways to provide proper housing and care for sows, which is a position maintained by the NPB and supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. Each housing system, including individual and group housing, free-access stalls and pastures, has both welfare advantages and disadvantages that must be considered by a farmer. “Regardless of the type of system used, what really matters is the individual care given to each pig -- a mainstay of our industry's Pork Quality Assurance Plus program,” the statement said.

• In auditing animal welfare on US pig farms, video monitoring can be a useful tool. “However, video monitoring, like in-person auditing, is only one component of providing and ensuring good animal care and can add significant cost to the farmer,” the statement pointed out. “Auditing and monitoring should be balanced with a comprehensive approach to animal welfare that includes caretaker training to positively affect human-animal interaction.”