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11 December 2020

PPILOW: a participatory project for the improvement of welfare in pigs

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Walloon farmers, stakeholders in the sector and citizens have been consulted in connection with various courses of action and solutions concerning the welfare o

This discussion group on porcine welfare was set up under the auspices of the European project PPILOW. This project brings together 23 organisations from 9 European countries, and aims to offer innovative solutions to improve the welfare of pigs and poultry in organic farming systems and/or farms with outdoor access. Current topics such as the rearing of non-castrated pigs, genetic selection, management of parasitism, alternatives to debeaking in poultry, in ovo sexing and the exploitation of male chicks are discussed. A self-assessment tool, enabling pig and poultry farmers to monitor a wide range of indicators relating to the welfare of their animals, is also under creation. The CRA-W is involved at several levels of the project concerning pigs. Both the assessment tool and the ways of improving welfare proposed throughout the project will be discussed, considered and finally validated by farmers and stakeholders in the sectors.

Other discussion groups have been set up in several other European countries, with the aim of monitoring and assessing the activities of the project. The Walloon group, supervised by the CRA-W, started in February 2020. On this occasion, around ten people gathered for a first meeting to discuss and debate the subject of animal welfare in pig farming. The discussion group is made up of farmers, representatives of the sector, members of public administration in charge of animal welfare, and citizen representatives. The participants discussed their perception of farm animal welfare. The satisfaction of basic needs of animals (hunger, thirst, health, movement, etc.) was naturally mentioned, but also the consideration of their emotions. A link has been made between the welfare of the animals and the well-being of the farmer, in addition to the economic outcome and product quality. The participants were then faced with the challenge of establishing criteria by which to assess the welfare of their farm pigs, which was not easy!

The feedback from the discussion groups served as the basis for the PPILOW project science team in developing an initial version of the pig welfare self-assessment tool. This summer, two farmers from the Walloon group agreed to try out an initial version of the tool. Their responses were collected, and these will help improve the tool before testing it on a larger scale. The Walloon group will continue to meet approximately twice a year throughout the project.

The PPILOW project is funded by the Horizon 2020 programme of the European Union under grant agreement No. 816172.
 

 

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