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Calling all outdoor pig producers!

Calling all outdoor pig producers!

Consideration of the welfare of animals, the environment, and humans, and how they are interconnected, is something that is increasingly important to the public when it comes to animal agriculture, and is likely to progressively affect how animal products are produced and marketed.

In response to this, this year the Irish Department of Agriculture (DAFM) and the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA NI) have funded a large all-Island project, involving Teagasc, UCD, Queens Belfast and AFBI, to investigate how pig production in Ireland can evolve to meet these considerations, and ensure the sustainability of the pig production industry as a whole. The OneWelPig project is being led by Teagasc, with Laura Boyle as principal investigator, and Keelin O’Driscoll as project co-ordinator. There are two main strands to the project. The first will focus on investigating options for producers operating under current industry standards to meet potential future regulatory requirements. The second strand is highly exciting, and much more ambitious, as it will involve engaging with the large number of alternative small scale producers on the island for the first time in a large scale research project.

Our first step is to reach out and try to engage with alternative, out-door pig producers on the island, with the aim of establishing a network through which we can learn about common practices, and barriers that these producers face. Raising pigs outdoors offers several challenges and benefits for pigs, producers and the environment that are quite different to conventional production, but could help address societal demands for higher quality pig production and welfare. Little is known about outdoor pig production systems in Ireland and it is likely that they vary greatly in terms of management, nutrition, breed and productivity. Our hope is that by better understanding outdoor pig systems on the island of Ireland, we could helping this industry to expand and develop. We have developed a survey that we are distributing as widely as we can, so that we can reach as many outdoor producers as possible and get an idea of the current state of play. This will be followed by fieldwork and workshops to better understand stakeholders’ needs.

The survey is available here https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/Z2925JS and takes about 15 minutes to complete. We hope that if you are an outdoor pig producer you would be happy to take part! If not, then please feel free to distribute on your social network or to friends or family who might know outdoor producers.

Thank you in advance to all those who will participate and/or distribute the questionnaire, your help is invaluable to us!

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