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Husbandry and animal health on organic pig farms in Austria

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Expectations of retailers and consumers regarding animal health and welfare and meat quality are particularly high for organic products. The aim of this study was therefore to provide an overview of the health and welfare of pigs on organic farms in Austria. Eighty-four organic pig farms were investigated. The farmers were interviewed using a questionnaire. In addition to clinical examination, the pigs were monitored at slaughter to determine the prevalence of organ lesions. The average herd size was 20.1 productive sows in the sow units and 84 fattening pigs in the finishing units. All farms used indoor production systems and provided straw to the pigs. Pregnant sows and finishers had access to an outdoor run in more than 90% of farms, but less than 15% of farms had outdoor runs for lactating sows and weaners. In more than 75% of the herds, endoparasites were found in faecal samples. About 50% of slaughter pigs displayed milk spots on the liver, 24% had pneumonic lesions and 18% showed mange. The results indicate that preventive measures in husbandry, management and hygiene must be intensified to improve animal health and welfare on organic pig farms and to meet the expectations of the consumers.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2003

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