Animal welfare assessment in Slovenian conventional and alternative pig production systems
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The aims of the study were to assess the welfare of pigs in Slovenian farms based on the international Welfare Quality® Assessment protocol for pigs and to gain a first insight into the welfare of pigs in Slovenian conventional and alternative farms. Pig welfare in Slovenia was assessed using the Welfare Quality® protocol on 10 alternative and 10 conventional farms. The size of the farm ranged from 11 to 1900 breeding sows in conventional farms and from three to 50 breeding sows in alternative farms. Using the protocol, the welfare of breeding sows, suckling piglets, growers, and fattening pigs was evaluated. The protocol consisted of four main principles of animal welfare (good feeding, good housing, good health, and appropriate behaviour), which were subdivided into 12 independent criteria. To evaluate each of these criteria, a set of measures was used. Overall animal welfare quality was calculated with a mathematical model incorporated into the protocol. Depending on the scores of the four principles, farms were classified as excellent, enhanced, acceptable or not classified. According to the Welfare Quality® protocol and statistical calculation, growers and fatteners in Slovenian conventional farms were rated as acceptable, while Slovenian alternative farms were rated as enhanced. We can conclude that the welfare of the growers and fatteners in our alternative farms is at a higher level than in conventional farms. The most critical evaluation points in sows were bursitis, wounds on the body, stereotypies, and fear of humans.
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