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Effects of three husbandry systems on health, welfare and productivity of organic pigs

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  14 February 2019

C. Leeb*
Affiliation:
Department for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Gregor-Mendel-Straße 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria
G. Rudolph
Affiliation:
Department for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Gregor-Mendel-Straße 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria
D. Bochicchio
Affiliation:
Research Centre for Animal Production and Aquaculture, Council for Agricultural Research and Economics, Via Beccastecca, 345 San Cesario sul Panaro, 41018 Modena, Italy
S. Edwards
Affiliation:
School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University, Agriculture Building, Newcastle upon Tyne,NE1 7RU, UK
B. Früh
Affiliation:
Department of Extension, Training and Communication, FiBL, Ackerstrasse 113, 5070 Frick, Switzerland
M. Holinger
Affiliation:
Department of Extension, Training and Communication, FiBL, Ackerstrasse 113, 5070 Frick, Switzerland
D. Holmes
Affiliation:
School of Natural and Environmental Sciences, Newcastle University, Agriculture Building, Newcastle upon Tyne,NE1 7RU, UK
G. Illmann
Affiliation:
Department of Ethology, Institute of Animal Science, Přatelství 815, 104 00 Prague-Uhříněves, Czech Republic Faculty of Agrobiology, Food and Natural Resources, Czech University of Life Sciences Prague, Kamycka 129, 160 21 Praha-Suchdol, Czech Republic
D. Knop
Affiliation:
Organic Agricultural Sciences, University of Kassel, Steinstr.19, 37213 Witzenhausen, Germany
A. Prunier
Affiliation:
PEGASE, INRA, Agrocampus Ouest, 35590 Saint-Gilles, France
T. Rousing
Affiliation:
Department of Animal Science, Aarhus University, Blichers Allé 20, Building FS20, 3341, 8830 Tjele, Denmark
C. Winckler
Affiliation:
Department for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Gregor-Mendel-Straße 33, 1180 Vienna, Austria
S. Dippel
Affiliation:
Institute of Animal Welfare and Animal Husbandry, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute, Dörnbergstraße 25/27, 29223 Celle, Germany
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Abstract

Organic pig husbandry systems in Europe are diverse – ranging from indoor systems with concrete outside run (IN) to outdoor systems all year round (OUT) and combinations of both on one farm (POUT). As this diversity has rarely been taken into account in research projects on organic pig production, the aim of this study was to assess and compare pig health, welfare and productivity in these three systems. Animal health and welfare were assessed using direct observation and records of 22 animal-based measures, comprising 17 health-, 3 productivity- and 2 behavioural measures. These were collected in pregnant sows, weaners and fattening pigs during direct observations and from records within a cross-sectional study on 74 farms (IN: n = 34, POUT: n = 28, OUT: n = 12) in eight countries. Overall, prevalence of several animal health and welfare issues was low (e.g. median 0% for pigs needing hospitalisation, shoulder lesions, ectoparasites; <5% for runts, tail lesions, conjunctivitis). Exceptions in particular systems were respiratory problems in weaners and fatteners (IN: 60.0%, 66.7%; POUT: 66.7%, 60.0%), weaning diarrhoea (IN: 25.0%), and short tails in fatteners (IN: 6.5%, POUT: 2.3%). Total suckling piglet losses (recorded over a period of 12 months per farm) were high in all three systems (IN: 21.3%; POUT: 21.6; OUT: 19.2%). OUT had lower prevalences of respiratory problems, diarrhoea and lameness of sows. POUT farms in most cases kept sows outdoors and weaners and fatteners similar to IN farms, which was reflected in the results regarding several health and welfare parameters. It can be concluded, that European organic pigs kept in all three types of husbandry system showed a low prevalence of health and welfare problems as assessed by our methodology, but respiratory health and diarrhoea should be improved in weaners and fatteners kept indoors and total piglet mortality in all systems. The results provide benchmarks for organic pig producers and organisations which can be used in strategies to promote health and welfare improvement. Furthermore, in future research, the identified health and welfare issues (e.g. suckling piglet mortality, weaning diarrhoea) should be addressed, specifically considering effects of husbandry systems.

Type
Research Article
Information
animal , Volume 13 , Issue 9 , September 2019 , pp. 2025 - 2033
Copyright
© The Animal Consortium 2019 

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