Sow housing and management central topic in Regional meeting South

Published on
November 12, 2019

On 8-9 October 2019, EURCAW-Pigs organized its second regional meeting in Brescia, Italy. It was the second meeting in a series of four in 2019 and 2020, aiming to meet with the primary target groups of the reference centre: inspectors of Competent Authorities and pig welfare policy workers.

The meeting focussed on optimising and monitoring of sow housing and management, and as the topic remains important, also on tail biting and tail docking.

The venue of the meeting was Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale della Lombardia e dell’Emilia Romagna (IZSLER). Here also the Italian Reference Centre of Animal Welfare has its headquarters. In total 6 delegates (CA’s, policy workers) from member states Italy, Spain, Portugal and Greece, and 1 delegate from DG SANTE, attended.

Discussion topics

The delegates to this meeting brought in several topics, and after comparing it with EURCAW’s work programme 2019-2020, three topics were chosen by the EURCAW team: tail biting, sow group housing and mixing, and farrowing management and housing. After introduction of the topics by the proposers, three ‘coffee table’ discussions followed, one for each topic. On day 2, for each topic (an) invited expert(s) wrapped-up the discussion and presented scientific knowledge, practical examples and their own thoughts on the topics:

  • Tail biting is an ongoing project of the European Commission. It continues to be important to discuss the risk factors of tail biting and how to set protocols to evaluate the sectors' compliance with the pig welfare legislation requirements; View and input to discussion on tail biting, by Antonia Patt, Animal welfare scientist, Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut (FLI), Germany.
  • Sow group housing and mixing: What are best practices for optimising introduction of gilts for the first time? What is more important in keeping aggression levels low and success rate: the group-housing system or (rearing) management factors? What animal based measures are suitable? Suggestions on ‘Introducing gilts to groups’, by Hans Spoolder, senior scientist in applied ethology, Wageningen Livestock Research, The Netherlands.
  • Farrowing management and housing: What are the strategies to eliminate or at least minimise the periods of severe restriction of sow movements? And lactation strategies of hyperprolific sows? Farrowing management and housing, by Giovanni Alborali, Antonio Maisano, Giovanni Santucci, Federico Scali, IZSLER, Italy.

Specific outcomes of these discussions and actions for the reference centre are described and summarized in the minutes. Based on her work with Inger Anneberg, Katy Overstreet, anthropologist at Aarhus University, Denmark, gave a talk on how to handle farmers' ambivalence and resistance, and make change happen on the farm.

The ClassyFarm System

Giovanni Alborali of IZSLER presented the Italian ClassyFarm System. ClassyFarm categorizes Italian farms according to risks, using an integrated approach for veterinary public health. It allows the detection, collection and processing of data relating to the following areas of valuation, such as biosecurity, animal welfare, antimicrobials, injuries detected at the slaughterhouse. The risk categorization using different sources: a self-audit by the farmer and official-audit by a vet officer (official-audit). It is available for pig farms, and soon also for cattle and poultry farms (and other species), and is promoted by the Italian Ministry of Health.

In 2020, two regional meetings are planned: in the spring of 2020 in Denmark for the Nordic region, and in the autumn of 2020 in Slovakia for the Eastern region. Inspectors of CAs and policy workers who would like to attend the next two meetings can contact us.

    (Source photo: EURCAW-Pigs)