Animal Health, Welfare and Production Problems in Organic Weaner Pigs

30 December 2013, at 12:00am

The health challenges faced by piglets weaned in organic systems are multifactorial and tend to be similar to those in other production systems and need to be tackled on an individual farm basis, according to new collaborative research in the EU.

A paper in the latest issue of the journal, Organic Agriculture, reviews the available information on the different health and animal welfare issues in organic pigs in relation to weaning.

An international group of authors, including Christine Leeb, address the most relevant health and welfare problems and review their potential hazards and associated risk factors.

Regarding health, problems related to post-weaning diarrhoea, cold stress, skin lesions, endoparasites and post-weaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS) are described.

Reasons for distress and frustration in weaned piglets are identified as mainly separation from the mother, a new environment, mixing and fear of humans.

Finally, the authors report that hazards and risk factors for health and welfare in organic weaners are related to animal characteristics, housing systems, feed/nutrition and management.

Generally, they conclude that diseases around weaning are multifactorial in nature, with several factors contributing simultaneously as stressors at the time of weaning. In order to solve problems around weaning, the complexity and the individuality of farm systems need to be taken into account, added Leeb and her co-authors.


Leeb C., L. Hegelund, S. Edwards, H. Mejer, A. Roepstorff, T. Rousing, A. Sundrum and M. Bonde. 2013. Animal health, welfare and production problems in organic weaner pigs. Organic Agriculture. November 2013.

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.
For more information on PMWS, click here.

December 2013

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