Next Article in Journal
Factors Associated with High Live Release for Dogs at a Large, Open-Admission, Municipal Shelter
Previous Article in Journal
Analysis of Stress Indicators for Evaluation of Animal Welfare and Meat Quality in Traditional and Jewish Slaughtering
Previous Article in Special Issue
Exploring the Framing of Animal Farming and Meat Consumption: On the Diversity of Topics Used and Qualitative Patterns in Selected Demographic Contexts
Article Menu
Issue 4 (April) cover image

Export Article

Open AccessArticle
Animals 2018, 8(4), 44; doi:10.3390/ani8040044

Operationalizing Principle-Based Standards for Animal Welfare—Indicators for Climate Problems in Pig Houses

Wageningen Livestock Research, P.O. Box 338, Wageningen 6700 AH, The Netherlands
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 14 November 2017 / Revised: 1 March 2018 / Accepted: 19 March 2018 / Published: 23 March 2018
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [11255 KB, uploaded 23 March 2018]   |  

Simple Summary

Dutch farms that probably do not comply with the legal principle-based standard for climate in pig houses can be identified based on a limited set of measurements. The results may encourage pig farmers to improve climatic conditions, but can also justify subsequent investigation to substantiate noncompliance with the legal animal welfare standards. This was concluded after farm data collection by inspectors on 96 farms with weaners or growing–finishing pigs. Analysis of the data revealed that CO2 and NH3 concentrations; pig fouling; and ear, tail, and eye scores can be used as indicators of suboptimal climatic conditions.

Abstract

The Dutch animal welfare law includes so-called principle-based standards. This means that the objective is described in abstract terms, enabling farmers to comply with the law in their own way. Principle-based standards are, however, difficult for the inspection agency to enforce because strict limits are missing. This pilot project aimed at developing indicators (measurements) to assess the climate in pig houses, thus enabling the enforcement of principle-based standards. In total, 64 farms with weaners and 32 farms with growing–finishing pigs were visited. On each farm, a set of climate-related measurements was collected in six pens. For each of these measurements, a threshold value was set, and exceeding this threshold indicated a welfare risk. Farm inspections were carried out during winter and spring, thus excluding situations with heat stress. Assessment of the variation and correlation between measurements reduced the dataset from 39 to 12 measurements. Using a principal components analysis helped to select five major measurements as warning signals. The number of exceeded thresholds per pen and per farm was calculated for both the large (12) and small (five) sets of measurements. CO2 and NH3 concentrations were related to the outside temperature. On colder days, there was less ventilation, and thus CO2 and NH3 concentrations increased. Air quality, reflected in the CO2 and NH3 concentrations, was associated with respiratory problems. Eye scores were positively correlated with both pig and pen fouling, and pig and pen fouling were closely related. We selected five signal indicators: CO2, NH3, and tail and eye score for weaners and finishers, and added ear score for weaners and pig fouling for growing–finishing pigs. The results indicate that pig farms can be ranked based on five signal indicators related to reduced animal welfare caused by climatic conditions. This approach could be adopted to other principle-based standards for pigs as well as for other species. View Full-Text
Keywords: pigs; climate; principle-based standards; principle-based regulation; inspection; welfare; welfare regulations; animal-based indicators pigs; climate; principle-based standards; principle-based regulation; inspection; welfare; welfare regulations; animal-based indicators
Figures

Figure 1

This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

Share & Cite This Article

MDPI and ACS Style

Vermeer, H.M.; Hopster, H. Operationalizing Principle-Based Standards for Animal Welfare—Indicators for Climate Problems in Pig Houses. Animals 2018, 8, 44.

Show more citation formats Show less citations formats

Note that from the first issue of 2016, MDPI journals use article numbers instead of page numbers. See further details here.

Related Articles

Article Metrics

Article Access Statistics

1

Comments

[Return to top]
Animals EISSN 2076-2615 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert
Back to Top