31 May 2024

What can be done to improve welfare on pig farms?

PPILOW organised a one-day forum for Belgian breeders on this issue.

On 29 March, CRA-W and BioForum organised a one-day forum for Belgian pig farmers and their advisors, as part of the European PPILOW project. Using a collective, multi-stakeholder approach, the project has been working for five years now to improve the well-being of pigs and poultry on free-range and organic farms.

It is now drawing to a close, and is putting forward strategies and technical levers that can be applied on farms. These strategies were presented to the assembly in the morning, then illustrated by a visit to the Vleterbeek organic farm (POPERINGE) in the afternoon.


In a nutshell, raising uncastrated male pigs is one of the alternatives to surgical castration, but it requires real investment from the entire industry (breeders, abattoirs, processors, consumers) to come up with a relevant strategy that can be implemented throughout Belgium. The nature of meat from uncastrated males remains a sensitive issue for operators in the sector.


Another topic is the reduction of piglet loss rates through actions aimed at improving their robustness, whether through genetics (with less prolific breeds) or animal management. The issue of iron injections in particular was discussed, as it is a challenge that the organic pork industry has to face up to. Promising results were presented by INAGRO, but need to be studied in greater depth and adapted to field conditions before they can be extended to farms.


A visit to the Vleterbeek organic farm provided an opportunity to explore the issue of housing sows after farrowing. Mobile huts - based on the VANGGAARD system - were adapted and improved to suit Belgian production conditions. One of them is currently being tested on the farm. During the visit, the question of on-farm feed production was also raised, as the farmer had invested in a system for the customised mixing of feed materials (spelt, triticale, peas, CCM, chestnut co-products, soya, etc.).

On the same subject

#Animal #Breeding systems