Using a 'One Welfare' framework to develop alternative high welfare pig production systems
The ‘One Welfare’ framework recognises the interconnectedness of animals, humans, and the environment in which they live. In Ireland, pigs are most often raised in commercial systems that pose significant welfare challenges. We will use the one welfare framework to compare alternative pig production systems, using animal, environment and human welfare measurements, and investigate how they meet societal expectations. As well as providing the first objective Irish information on the practices in place in the small scale outdoor pig production sector, we will develop environmental and social life cycle assessment (LCA) models to investigate the sustainability of these systems. We will also carry out the first evaluation of pig production in an agroforestry setting in the island of Ireland, and model the implications of land use change to agroforestry for pig production. For typical commercial scale pig production, we will develop a structured programme of research with the ultimate aim being to develop a commercially viable system offering pigs at least transient access to the outdoors. The project will also assess social and regulatory barriers to alternative pig production practices/systems and the social impact of current systems. Finally, we will develop a roadmap to assist the Irish/Northern Irish pig industries in transitioning to One Welfare systems of pig production.
Our vision is the development of pig production systems that provide an environment that satisfies the animals’ physical and behavioural needs. Thus as well as investigating strategies to raise welfare standards in indoor pig production, we aim to determine the viability of pig rearing enterprises that are an alternative to, or improve upon, typical commercial systems here in Ireland. As well as assessing pig welfare, we will observe the pigs’ behaviour to understand how they affect the soil, flora and fauna in their environment, and assess the satisfaction of the personnel who work with pigs in the various systems. Ideally, we will identify financially viable systems that contribute to the regeneration of the local physical and social environment. The project will also help farmers identify viable means of income diversification, with potential to capitalise on premium prices for high welfare pig-meat; the project will thus help to capitalise on the potential good animal welfare has to build resilience into food production chains. Ultimately, our research will provide the knowledge for individual producers to improve pig welfare, and potentially a portion of the industry to transition to higher welfare systems.
Duration: 4 years
This project is funded by the Irish Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine’s Competitive Research Funding Programme (2021R600).
This online survey was developed to better understand the reasons, the conditions and challenges associated with keeping pigs outdoors. This survey will be followed by fieldwork and workshops to better understand stakeholders’ needs. We aim to characterize the current state of the industry and, to achieve this, we need as many pig producers/owners to participate as possible.
As an outdoor pig keeper, we invite you to fill out the following survey:
This survey should take approximately 15 minutes to complete.
Thank you in advance to all those who will participate and/or distribute the questionnaire, your help is invaluable to us!