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Application of Animal Welfare Standards in Intensive Production Systems Using the Assessment Protocols of Welfare Quality

30 May 2013

The Welfare Quality assessment system is a reliable and practical tool for the evaluation of the welfare status of finishing pigs in an intensive system, according to new research from Germany.

The application of animal welfare standards in intensive production systems using the assessment protocols of Welfare Quality® as applied to fattening pig husbandry in northwest Germany are have been studied by Dennis Otten and colleagues at the Georg-August University of Göttingen.

In International Journal of Livestock Production, they explain that the increased requirements for animal welfare have raised the need for a comprehensive on-farm assessment system.

Their paper is a first step to analysing the reliability and feasibility of the on-farm welfare assessment with regard to the animal-related measures of Welfare Quality in intensive fattening pig husbandry.

Based on the 2009 Welfare Quality assessment protocols for pigs, six analyses were undertaken by one observer on three farms.

The researchers report it became apparent that the system, in essence, fulfils the requirements of a sound assessment of animal welfare under intensive production with low on-farm variability. However, the behaviour-based measurements had a higher degree of within-farm variability than clinical- and resource-based measurements as the assessment involves a greater degree of subjectivity.

Some measurements seemed to be of low sensitivity as there were no or very low variations in many of the indicators being assessed.

Nevertheless, Otten and co-authors conclude their preliminary study indicates that the assessment system is a reliable and feasible tool for the evaluation of animal welfare status in intensive pig production for fattening pig.


Otten D., E. Annas and H.F.A. Van den Weghe. 2013. The application of animal welfare standards in intensive production systems using the assessment protocols of Welfare Quality®: Fattening pig husbandry in Northwest Germany. Int. J. of Livestock Production. 4(4):49-59. doi: 10.5897/IJLP12.037

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May 2013

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