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Relationships between pig welfare, productivity and farmer disposition

By T. Jaaskelainen, T. Kauppinen, K. M. Vesala, A. Valros

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The aim of this study was, firstly, to investigate the connection between on-farm assessed welfare scores and production parameters for sows, and secondly, to examine how farmers perceive the connection between their disposition, animal welfare and productivity. We assessed environmental and management preconditions on animal welfare and interviewed farmers on 30 Finnish farms. We studied the relationship between welfare and production using correlation and regression analyses. The theory of planned behaviour served as an articulation of farmer disposition when studying farmer perceptions. Concerning the production data, better welfare scores from the 'health and stockmanship' category during lactation were correlated with shorter reproduction cycle and fewer stillborn piglets and it also explained some of the variation in the number of piglets per year and the length of the farrowing interval. The farmers agreed that the productivity parameters and the principles of assessing welfare used in this study were relevant. A majority of farmers considered that animal welfare affects productivity and that there are associations between farmer attitudes, animal welfare and productivity. There were no statistical relationships between farmer perceptions and animal welfare; yet on the farms of farmers with positive perceptions of attitudes to animal welfare and productivity there were slightly lower piglet mortality rates and lower stillbirth rates than on the farms with farmers holding less positive views. We conclude that actions to improve animal welfare also have an economic impact as they enhance sow production. Good stockmanship and healthier animals result in more piglets born and a shorter reproduction cycle.

Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 23
Issue 4
Pages 435-443
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Publisher Universities Federation for Animal Welfare
DOI 10.7120/09627286.23.4.435
Language English
Author Address Research Centre for Animal Welfare and Department of Production Animal Medicine, PO Box 57, 00014 University of Helsinki, Helsinki,
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Animal husbandry
  2. Animal physiology
  3. Animal production
  4. Animal reproduction
  5. Animals
  6. Animal welfare
  7. Attitudes
  8. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  9. Economics
  10. Farms
  11. Farrowing
  12. Fetus
  13. Lactation
  14. Livestock
  15. Livestock farming
  16. Mammals
  17. Mathematics and statistics
  18. Meat animals
  19. mortality
  20. peer-reviewed
  21. Pigs
  22. productivity
  23. Reproduction
  24. Social psychology and social anthropology
  25. sows
  26. Suiformes
  27. ungulates
  28. variation
  29. vertebrates
  30. welfare
  1. peer-reviewed