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Economic feasibility of interventions targeted at decreasing piglet perinatal and pre-weaning mortality across European countries

By A. H. Stygar, I. Chantziaras, D. Maes, V. Aarestrup Moustsen, D. De Meyer, H. Quesnel, I. Kyriazakis, J. K. Niemi

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BACKGROUND: Piglet perinatal and pre-weaning mortality is a welfare problem causing economic losses in pig production. In this study, the effects of housing and management interventions on the economic result of sow enterprises representing six European countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, The Netherlands and Spain) were tested. Interventions concerned: (1) installing mechanical ventilation, (2) re-designing of the gestation unit, (3) drying and warming newborn piglets, (4) providing enrichment for gestating sows, including high-fiber dietary supplementation and point-source objects, and (5) music provision and backscratching of sows in the farrowing unit. A bio-economic model was used to determine the effects of interventions on economic outcomes during the nursery phase and to calculate a maximum cost of 1%-point reduction in perinatal and pre-weaning mortality, irrespective of the intervention type. Biological parameters were set according to previous observational and experimental studies. Interventions 1-4 were expected to decrease perinatal mortality, defined as stillbirths and deaths occurring within the first 48 h of postnatal life. Intervention 5 was expected to decrease pre-weaning mortality. Interventions increased fixed (1-3) and variable costs (3-5). We hypothesized that housing and management interventions would have a positive economic effect. RESULTS: Piglet mortality can be decreased in various ways. Interventions concerning ventilation and re-designing of the gestation unit (1 and 2) were the most beneficial in countries with low housing costs and high perinatal mortality. Drying and warming newborn piglets (3) resulted in varying economic results, with the highest increase in profits obtained in a country with low labor costs and high litter size. Interventions providing sows with enrichment and human-animal interaction (4 and 5) were effective across varying conditions. Regardless of intervention type, policies aiming at 1%-point reduction in perinatal and pre-weaning mortality could cost from €0.2 to €0.5 (average €0.4) and from €0.4 to €0.5 (average €0.5) per piglet, respectively, depending on productions conditions. CONCLUSIONS: To decrease piglet mortality, farmers should consider low input interventions, such as those targeting appropriate behavior. Our results suggest that providing enrichment or increasing human-animal interaction pays off and brings positive economic result even when piglet mortality is marginally reduced.

Publication Title Porcine Health Manag
Volume 8
Issue 1
Pages 22
ISBN/ISSN 2055-5660 (Print)2055-5660
DOI 10.1186/s40813-022-00266-x
Author Address Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Bioeconomy and Environment, Latokartanonkaari 9, 00790, Helsinki, Finland. of Porcine Health Management, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Ghent University, Salisburylaan 133, 9820, Merelbeke, Belgium.SEGES Innovation P/S, Agro Food Park 15, 8200, Aarhus N, Denmark.Vedanko BV, Knijffelingstraat 15, 8851, Koolskamp, Belgium.PEGASE, INRAE, Institut Agro, 35590, Saint-Gilles, France.Institute for Global Food Security, Queen's University, Belfast, BT7 1NN, UK.Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke), Bioeconomy and Environment, Kampusranta 9, 60320, Seinäjoki, Finland.
Additional Language English
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Behavior and behavior mechanisms
  2. Housing
  3. Human-animal interactions
  4. open access
  5. optimization
  6. welfare
  1. open access