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Photo of Assessment of animal welfare on British pig farms

Steve Dunkley

Head of Knowledge Exchange (Interim)

AHDB Pork KE

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Email Steve

T: work 01423 797 303

M: cell 07841 570 549

Assessment of animal welfare on British pig farms

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Research partners: Royal Veterinary College

Sponsors: AHDB Pork

Project duration: 2006 – 2009 

Aims and objectives

  • To assess the welfare of pigs on British farms
  • To develop validated protocols for the assessment of pig welfare
  • To train veterinary undergraduates in formal assessment of pig welfare
  • To survey the welfare of pigs on British farms in an epidemiological study
  • To identify risk factors for welfare under farm conditions using a validated, repeatable, reliable and objective method and enabling long-term trends in welfare to be established and goals set. 

Findings

  • The RVC Welfare Protocol (RVC WP) was developed along with a robust learning scheme for veterinary students
  • RVC WP contained four sections, two animal-based (Group and Individual Animal Assessment) and two conventional (Resource Provision and Herd & Health factors)
  • Using data from 194 placements on 117 farms housing 174,607 animals, with 3,880 assessed individually, four ‘pig-types’ exhibiting compromised welfare states were established
  • Twenty-five percent of the study population was free of these indicators when assessed
  • A benchmarking system was proposed, creating a tool for producers to facilitate the amelioration/elimination of compromised welfare.