Acceptance and feasibility of a guideline for the animal welfare assessment of fattening pigs from farmers' point of view
The welfare of farm animals is being increasingly discussed in society and politics. To evaluate animal welfare, indicator systems are often used. Such a system has been developed by the German Association for Technology and Structures in Agriculture and suggested in the publication “Animal Welfare Indicators: Practical Guide—Pigs”. The association’s aim is to provide farmers with a useful method for recording the welfare of pigs. Crucial for the acceptance of the guide by farmers is a high degree of feasibility of the recommended indicators as well as the proposed methods for their recording. To evaluate this, 40 farmers keeping fattening pigs were interviewed. The guided semi-structured interview was conducted on the farms after the farmers evaluated the welfare of their fattening pigs according to the guide. The results are: Apart from the indicators faecal soiling and tail length, all the other eleven indicators are accepted for the assessment of fattening pig welfare by a majority of the interviewed farmers (between 57.5% and 90% acceptance per indicator). Furthermore, the feasibility of the individual indicators was assessed as being positive. The relationship between time expenditure and benefit was rated on a five-point scale at an average of 3.1 (medium), which clearly shows that there is a need for further development of this guide. Some possible changes with a potential for improvement could be identified; for example, the aggregation of the results after the collection of the individual indicators to an overall result that can be compared and interpreted.