New pen concepts could address animal welfare concerns in an environmentally friendly way

DLG-Agrifuture Insights "Chart of the Month" for March tackles the conflict between animal welfare and protecting the environment.

Tuesday 20 March 2018 (10 months 2 days ago)

DLGThe March 2018 “Chart of the Month” published by DLG-Agrifuture Insights, the new knowledge brand and platform for international trend analysis in the agricultural sector from the German Agriculture Society, focuses on pig producers’ opinions on animal welfare pens that could solve the conflict of interest between improved animal welfare and environmental protection.

“An animal welfare pen constitutes, for example, more room for the animals and toys to engage the pigs. Also, access to outdoor areas is a topic under consideration in the development of higher animal welfare barn concepts,” said the DLG’s Head of Agricultural Economics, Dr. Achim Schaffner. “This is a discussion topic in Germany in particular, but also in The Netherlands and the United Kingdom. We believe that these concepts can be a way to achieve better animal welfare if farmers get the opportunity to increase earnings to finance the necessary investments in the new systems.”

Asked about their opinion of animal welfare pens for this month’s chart, about half of the farmers questioned in Germany, France, The Netherlands, Poland and the United Kingdom thought they would help solve the conflict of interest. French producers were most convinced of this, with about 60 percent of those questioned agreeing, but it was striking that 75 percent of the pig farmers questioned in France believed the pens could not be operated economically.

The Netherlands was the only country where a majority of producers questioned felt that animal welfare pens could be operated economically. The reason for this is thought to be a good track record for Dutch high-welfare production programs, where farmers are rewarded with better prices for producing pigs with a higher level of animal welfare.

The final question polled pig producers from the five nations on how they rated the chances of the animal welfare pens not being approved by the public authorities. Less than 10 percent of producers in France, Poland and the United Kingdom felt they wouldn’t be approved, while about a quarter of German and Dutch producers were of the same opinion. In both countries, this approval by the authorities would be crucial to encouraging adoption of the pens and the resulting improved animal welfare.

March 15, 2018 – DLG

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