Health, Welfare and Production Problems in Organic Suckling Piglets

A review of the different health and welfare issues in weaner pigs reared under organic systems as well as their prevalence with the aim to reduce the risk factors by a group of EU-based researchers.
calendar icon 18 December 2013
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A new paper in the journal, Organic Agriculture by first-named author, Christine Leeb from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria and co-authors reviews the available information on the different health and animal welfare issues in organic pigs in relation to weaning.

It addresses the most relevant health and welfare problems and reviews 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, hazards and risk factors for health and welfare in organic weaners are related to animal characteristics, housing systems, feed/nutrition and management.

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


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 by clicking here.
Find out more about the diseases mentioned by clicking here.

December 2013

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