Behaviour, welfare and health

The welfare of growing pigs in five different production systems: assessment of feeding and housing

D. Templea1a2 c1, V. Courboulaya3, X. Mantecaa2, A. Velardea1 and A. Dalmaua1

a1 Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries (IRTA), Finca Camps i Armet s/n, 17121 Monells, Girona, Spain

a2 School of Veterinary Science, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain

a3 Institut du Porc (IFIP) – BP 35104, 35651 Le Rheu Cedex, France


Ninety-one farms were visited over a 2-year period to assess the welfare of growing pigs in five different production systems found either in France or in Spain using the Welfare Quality® protocol. This study focused on animal-based measures as indicators of ‘good feeding’ and ‘good housing’. Multiple Generalized Linear Mixed Models were performed for each measure to evaluate the differences between production systems and to detect possible causal factors. Pigs in the conventional system presented the lowest prevalence of poor body condition, whereas extensive Mallorcan Black pigs and extensive Iberian pigs were associated with a decreased prevalence of bursitis and pig dirtiness. The straw-bedded system presented a lower prevalence of bursitis, but poorer hygiene and more susceptibility of poor body condition than the conventional system. The age of the animals had a significant effect on the appearance of bursitis in the three intensive systems studied. The type of floor was a significant causal factor of bursitis and pig dirtiness in the conventional system and among intensive Iberian pigs. The feeding system was another causal factor of pig dirtiness on more than 50% of the body in the conventional system, whereas pig dirtiness on less than 50% of the body was influenced by the age of the animals. The prevalence of huddling animals in the conventional system was associated with the highest stocking densities and the lowest environmental temperatures. The results indicate that there were important differences between production systems based on animal-based indicators of the good feeding and housing principles. The recording of the age of the animals, type of floor, feeding system, stocking density and environmental temperature can be useful to predict the appearance of a given welfare measure of ‘good housing’ on a farm.

(Received May 16 2011)

(Accepted August 19 2011)

(Online publication October 10 2011)