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Does the Implementation of an Animal Welfare Programme on a Farm Yield a Demonstrable Improvement in Fattening Pig Welfare?

In the course of social criticism of fattening pig farming, an animal welfare programme called “Initiative Animal Welfare” (ITW) was founded to increase animal welfare in pig farming in Germany. Furthermore, there is a legal obligation to record animal welfare parameters as a self-monitoring measure. The “German Association for Technology and Structures in Agriculture” published a guideline on the applicable animal welfare criteria. This guide formed the basis of this study’s data collection. The aim was to apply the animal welfare parameters on farms by comparing the results between farms participating in ITW with those not participating. A cumulative score was calculated by evaluating the collected data. In addition, the relative risk was calculated in order to estimate the risk of finding a negative expression of a parameter. Our data show that ITW farms did not perform significantly better than the farms without ITW in terms of both the cumulative score and the relative risk. Overall, it must be considered that in both farm variants the occurrence of negative evaluations was very rare and the visited farms thus certainly can be considered to be well-managed farms. Climate parameters were recorded in each compartment and showed no significant differences in most cases.

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