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Room for improvement on larger farms - study
“Simple adjustments in the management of space allowances and of water supply can also improve welfare.”
Researchers assess welfare at 60 pig farms in Germany

Farm animal welfare is not compromised on large farms, but there is room for improvement, according to new research.

The study, published in the journal Animal Welfare, looked at whether farm animal welfare is compromised on larger farms, and if so, how.

Researchers assessed welfare at 60 conventional fattening pig farms in Germany with a range of 250 -11,000 pigs. Using the four basic principles of good feeding, good housing, good health and appropriate behaviour, the researchers found that none of the farm sizes were superior in terms of welfare.

The principle of good feeding scored highest in the study, which was in part due to the fact that only a very limited number of pigs had poor body condition.

Water supply, however, was found to be insufficient on 16 of the farms and a lack of and poorly-functioning drinkers were found across a range of farms. One farm recorded a maximum number of 43 pigs per drinker - far more than the threshold of 12 per drinker required to meet German legislation.

Good health scored the lowest of the four principles. Moderate wounds was the third most common indicator of poor welfare and there was also a high frequency of bursitis, wounds and manure on the pigs.

Appropriate behaviour also recorded low in all the farm sizes. In more than 40 per cent of the pens, space allowances were below German Farm Animal Welfare Regulations. Overcrowded pens were recorded on 92 per cent of farms, although the proportion of overcrowded pens was lowest on large farms.

“Our study did not show that farm size was a factor for the animals’ welfare, however, the high occurrence of bursitis and soiled animals, which are known to be affected by floor type and quality, underline the necessity of improving the quality of floors and of climate management,” explained study author Dr Christian Lamberts of the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL).

“Simple adjustments in the management of space allowances and of water supply can also improve welfare.”


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Nominations for 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards now open

News Story 1
 People across the UK are being urged to nominate a standout animal champion for the 2019 RSPCA Honours Awards.

The awards recognise those who have worked tirelessly to improve animal welfare, campaigned on behalf of animals, or shown true bravery. Previous winners include comedian John Bishop, who was awarded Celebrity Animal Champion of the Year, and 11-year-old Lobby Cantwell, who raised more than £1,000 for the charity through mountain climbs and bike rides.

To submit a nomination or find out more about the awards visit the RSPCA website. Nominations will remain open until 4 pm on Friday, March 15.  

Click here for more...
News Shorts
New £1m project to investigate dairy cow lameness

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) is leading a new £1 million research project to investigate the causes of lameness in dairy cows.

One in three dairy cows are affected by lameness every day in the UK, costing the industry an estimated £250 milion annually.

The project will take three years to complete and is due to finish by November 2021.

Professor Georgios Banos of SRUC commented: “In addition to pain and discomfort to the animal, lameness is associated with decreased milk production and inflated farm costs.

“Among cows raised in the same environment, some become lame while others do not. Understanding the reasons behind this will help us develop targeted preventive practices contributing to enhanced animal welfare and farm profitability.”