Description of Organic Pig Production in Europe

In a study of organic pig systems in eight European countries, researchers found wide variations, especially in terms of access to outdoor areas.
calendar icon 22 January 2014
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With the aim to identify health and welfare strategies in organic pig production, Barbara Früh from the Swiss Research Institute of Organic Agriculture and other scientists from across Europe have described the different organic production systems in eight European countries- Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and UK.

Their description, published in Organic Agriculture, was based on the following features:

  • numbers of organic farms and organic pigs
  • market shares
  • housing and management characteristics
  • feeding characteristics
  • main health problems, and
  • relevant differences to the EU regulation existing at the time of the project.

The results were primarily based on statistics, country-specific regulations as well as on expert and stakeholder interviews.

The group found that organic farming and organic pig production are rapidly developing in European countries. The European country with the highest number of organic pigs is Germany. However, organic pig production represents a minor part of the whole pig production in all surveyed countries.

All features that were analysed varied greatly between countries, the group found.

Früh and co-authors commented that the most striking variation is in the housing of pigs, which varies from completely outdoors on pasture for most UK farms to permanent indoor housing with access to an outdoor run - during part of their life - for most organic pig farms in German-speaking countries.


Früh B., D. Bochicchio, S. Edwards, L. Hegelund, C. Leeb, A. Sundrum, S. Werne, S. Wiberg and A. Prunier. 2013. Description of organic pig production in Europe. Organic Agriculture. November 2013.

Further Reading

You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.

January 2014

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