The Animal Sciences Group of the University of
Wageningen in the Netherlands has compiled a report concerning the establishment
of so-called 'mega livestock companies' for the pig and poultry industries.
The study was carried out on behalf of the Council for the Rural Area.
'Mega companies' are different to normal livestock companies in terms of the
environment, animal health and welfare and human health. In addition, they have
more resources at their disposal to innovate and invest.
Effects on the physical environment
It is evident that
the clustering of companies with more animals in a certain location leads to
increased effects on the environment. Through new technological developments,
these 'mega companies' have the possibility to reduce much of the emissions from
ammonia and other substances that accompany regular livestock operations.
Such developments are envisaged in the processing of manure for pigs and in
the burning of manure in the case of poultry are expected.
For the pig industry, technological developments offer a broader perspective
regarding the use of manure by-products such as that of biogas.
Location, logistics and transport
On a regional level,
'mega farms' could be advantageous for the landscape and environment through
optimising technology and infrastructure in the transport of feed and animals
situated in one location.
Effect on humans and animal health
The chance of an
outbreak of an infectious disease is less in such mega companies than in normal
operations as they have less contact with other farms thus reducing the risk of
infection. However, the damage would be larger in the event of an outbreak.
The perception among the public is important in
the discussion about establishing such mega companies.Insecurities about the
consequences of improving animal welfare and the subsequent changes in the
landscape are feeding the discussion about society's acceptance of such
The report can be viewed in Dutch here
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