Check back for further coverage from this meeting.
With unanimous votes, the board cast its initial approval of its ambulatory and non-ambulatory livestock standards, and standards for swine.
Both items have been part of the discussion for the past several months, and the swine document has been extensively reviewed and updated by the swine subcommittee since the fall of 2010.
The documents still require final board approval, and will be reconsidered in upcoming meetings, but the major points are likely to be upheld.
The disabled livestock document requires such animals to have “appropriate access to water, and if maintained longer than 24 hours, access to feed.”
The document also covers the basics of how disabled animals must be transported and the attention they should receive.
Handling of ambulatory distressed animals, meaning they can still walk, is to be done in a humane manner and such animals can be transported for treatment or sale, or directly to a slaughter plant.
They also can be slaughtered or euthanized on the farm, using methods acceptable to Ohio’s Administrative Code.
Non-ambulatory disabled (animals that can’t walk) must be treated with the same humane standards and can be transported for treatment. Except for cattle, they can be transported to a slaughter plant.
Non-ambulatory animals must not be transported to non-terminal markets or collection facilities.
Highlights of the swine document include space allowances and a provision for stall phaseout by 2025 — similar to what the swine subcommittee is recommending.
The document specifies, “minimum stocking density must allow all pigs to easily lie down fully on its side at the same time without having to lie on each other and be able to easily stand back up at all stages of production, and in addition all animals can access feed and water without excessive competition.”
On the matter of stalls, farrowing stalls are permitted, provided they are “designed to maximize neo-natal piglet welfare,” and can be used on new and existing farms.
Weaned piglets must be housed in clean, dry, well-heated facilities and kept in ample bedding in cold weather.
Gestation stalls can be used on all existing facilities until Dec. 31, 2025. After the swine rule is effective, however, new facilities “must utilize alternative sow housing, not gestation stalls.”
Before and after 2025, gestation stalls may be used “for a period of time that seeks to maximize embryonic welfare and allows for the confirmation of pregnancy.”
Individual stalls also can be used indefinitely for “special circumstances that jeopardize the swine’s welfare.” Those include injured, frail, thin or aggressive swine.
The meeting was full of kind words and accolades shared among board members and toward the public audience.
Outgoing board chairman Robert Boggs, who also is in his final days as Ohio’s director of agriculture, was praised for setting a positive precedent for the board, and for other care boards being formed across the nation. A period of applause was given for his work.
“I am honored to have served with you,” he said, calling the board’s effort the greatest he’s seen in his 40 years of public service.”
During the public comment session of the meeting, a couple members of the swine subcommittee expressed their continued support for the recommendations they agreed upon.
Swine subcommittee members Bryan Black and Charles Wildman addressed the board, saying the document they put together reflects the work and wishes of the subcommittee.
Wildman said he wanted something that will “maintain freedom and reputation for farmers in Ohio, and in America,” and be something they can plan for.
The subcommittee’s recommendation “allows existing producers to depreciate their investment and plan for an orderly transition to other housing,” he said.