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Animal Welfare – Swine Farming

04/08/2021

Animal Welfare – Swine Farming

The world is undergoing intense transformations since the popularization and facilitation of access to information. This rapid globalization caused outdated industries within this context to close their doors. Therefore, markets that are opening and those that remain, are in a huge race for the search for the “new” or more technological service/product to meet the demands of consumers.

When few had access to information, little was said about animal welfare, but this has changed as mentioned above. Companies and producers that want to remain in the market today have to modernize and stay within what is required.

The OIE definition of animal welfare is: “An animal is in a good state of well-being (when indicated by scientific evidence) if it is healthy, comfortable, well-nourished, safe, able to express its innate behavior, and if you are not suffering from unpleasant states, such as pain, fear, and anguish.”

The five freedoms 

In 1992, the “Farm Animal Welfare Council” formally defined the principle of the five freedoms:

animal welfare in swine farming

Nutrition

Animals should never go without feed for longer than established between feedings. The design of the trough must ensure the possibility of feeding without causing stress or injury. Where rationing is at will, always check that ration is not lacking and automatic systems must have their functioning monitored.

The diet must be well balanced, meeting all the animal’s requirements for maintenance, growth, and reproduction. Water of good quality and constantly available in adequate volume.

Ambience

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The animals must have an environment that guarantees thermal comfort since pigs are animals sensitive to high temperatures, which is easier to occur depending on the density inside the farm. The absence of dirt (waste) and moisture leads to less formation of harmful gases (especially ammonia – the maximum limit is 10 to 20ppm). Whenever possible, raise curtains for natural lighting and ventilation.

Biosecurity

The adequate vaccination and deworming schedule contributes to disease prevention and control. This gives good health to the herd. A good biosecurity program (isolation fences and locked accesses, bathing and changing clothes, “everyone in/everyone out” between lots, control of people and vehicles, quarantine, cleaning, and disinfection program, monitoring, etc.) also contributes to the better overall health of the herd. The biosecurity program must be defined and supervised by a veterinarian. All people involved must be informed and properly trained.

Waste Management

One of the areas of greatest attention in pig farming is the large production of waste rich in minerals and polluting gases. Thus, good management, properly disposing of biological waste, in addition to complying with legislation and not harming the environment, helps to reduce flies and toxic gases, reducing and controlling the possible spread of pathogens.

Environmental enrichment

Animals bring ancestral (innate) habits that are important to them. As an example in pigs, we have the act of nesting in sows or even digging. There are several management tools that can be applied by producers and technicians as viable alternatives to improve animal welfare by enriching the environment where the swine are located. Environmental enrichment for pigs is most effective in the post-weaning phase but can be used successfully in all rearing phases. There are two basic ways to enrich the swine’s environment: environmental enrichment (ex.: straw, wood, hay, rope, chain, edible, rigid or deforming toys) and structural enrichment (ex.: escape zone, shelters, ramps, water depths).

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