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Open AccessArticle

Assessment of Welfare Problems in Finnish Cattle and Pig Farms Based on Official Inspection Reports

1
Department of Food Hygiene and Environmental Health, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 66 (Agnes Sjöbergin katu 2), 00014 Helsingin Yliopisto, Finland
2
Research Centre for Animal Welfare, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 57, 00014 Helsingin Yliopisto, Finland
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Department of Production Animal Medicine, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Helsinki, P.O. Box 57 (Viikintie 49), 00014 Helsingin Yliopisto, Finland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2019, 9(5), 263; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9050263
Received: 16 April 2019 / Revised: 16 May 2019 / Accepted: 18 May 2019 / Published: 22 May 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Animal Welfare)
Official on-farm inspections are carried out throughout the European Union every year to ensure farm compliance with animal welfare standards. The aim of this study was to analyze Finnish inspection data in order to find out how well cattle and pig farms comply with animal welfare standards, to reveal the most common non-compliances and to identify possible farm risk factors. About every fourth inspected Finnish cattle and pig farm did not comply with the animal welfare standards. Examples of factors that increased the risk of non-compliance were small herd size, tie-stall housing and outdoor rearing. Inadequate lying area in cattle farms and a lack of enrichment material in pig farms were the most common non-compliances. The regional differences found may indicate differences in inspectors’ interpretations or ways in conducting inspections. As the official inspection reports contain valuable information about the welfare problems on farms, the reports should be better utilized in risk analysis, in targeting farmer education, and in making the inspections more uniform.
The competent authorities of the Member States of the European Union are required to perform animal welfare inspections on livestock farms. The data obtained from these official inspections performed in Finnish cattle and pig farms in 2010–2015 were used with the aim of estimating the prevalence of the most common non-compliances and identifying underlying risk factors. The prevalence of non-compliant cattle and pig farms was 24.2% and 27.9%, respectively. In cattle, the most common problem was an inadequate lying area followed by deficient housing conditions for calves; in pigs, it was a lack of enrichment material. The non-compliances concerning cattle were most frequently detected in autumn and in farms with small herd size, with tie-stall housing and outdoor rearing year-round. The pig farms with a farrow-to-finish unit had a higher prevalence of non-compliances than other production types. The prevalence of the non-compliant farms differed notably between the regions. It can be concluded that the cattle welfare inspections should be performed with a focus on the cold and rainy seasons and at small farms, whereas the pig welfare inspections should mainly focus on farrow-to-finish units. The data received from official inspections should be efficiently utilized in the development of animal welfare inspection system, with the aim of risk-based, consistent and uniform inspections. In addition, the data should be utilized in targeting information for farmers. View Full-Text
Keywords: animal welfare; cattle farms; inspections; non-compliance; pig farms animal welfare; cattle farms; inspections; non-compliance; pig farms
MDPI and ACS Style

Väärikkälä, S.; Hänninen, L.; Nevas, M. Assessment of Welfare Problems in Finnish Cattle and Pig Farms Based on Official Inspection Reports. Animals 2019, 9, 263.

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