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Impact of animal welfare on costs and viability of pig production in the UK

By H. L. I. Bornett, J. H. Guy, P. J. Cain

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The European Union welfare standards for intensively kept pigs have steadily increased over the past few years and are proposed to continue in the future. It is important that the cost implications of these changes in welfare standards are assessed. The aim of this study was to determine the profitability of rearing pigs in a range of housing systems with different standards for pig welfare. Models were constructed to calculate the cost of pig rearing (6-95 kg) in a fully-slatted system (fulfilling minimum EU space requirements, Directive 91630/EEC); a partly-slatted system; a high-welfare, straw-based system (complying with the UK-based Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Freedom Food standards) and a free-range system. The models were also used to assess the consequences of potential increases in space allowance, and to estimate the cost of rearing pigs under organic standards. The cost of rearing pigs ranged from 92.0 p/kg carcass weight (cw) and 94.6 p/kgcw for the partly-slatted and fully-slatted systems, to 98.8 p/kgcw and 99.3 p/kgcw for the Freedom Food and free-range systems respectively. When space allowance was increased by 60% to levels in a recent proposal to revise pig welfare Directive (91/630/EEC), the rearing costs were unchanged for the free-range system but rose by 4.6 p/kgcw for the fully-slatted system. Rearing costs under organic standards were 31% higher than in the free-range system. These results suggest that improved pig welfare can be achieved with a modest increase in cost. At present, price premiums received for meat produced under high welfare systems in the UK offset the higher costs of production in these systems. To ensure profitability in the long term, it is important that these premiums are maintained.

Date 2003
Publication Title Journal of Agricultural & Environmental Ethics
Volume 16
Issue 2
Pages 163-186
ISBN/ISSN 1187-7863
DOI 10.1023/A:1022994131594
Author Address School of Agriculture, Food and Rural Development, University of Newcastle, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU, UK.j.h.guy@ncl.ac.uk
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Agriculture
  2. Animal husbandry
  3. Animal rights
  4. Animal welfare
  5. British Isles
  6. Commonwealth of Nations
  7. Developed countries
  8. Economics
  9. Europe
  10. Food economics
  11. Great Britain
  12. Laws and regulations
  13. Mammals
  14. Meat animals
  15. Meat production
  16. models
  17. OECD countries
  18. peer-reviewed
  19. pig farming
  20. piggeries
  21. pig housing
  22. Pigs
  23. pork
  24. prices
  25. Production
  26. profitability
  27. standards
  28. sties
  29. Swine
  30. United Kingdom
  1. peer-reviewed