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NL: More welfare for pigs in trial housing

Scientifically designed houses and pens for pigs increase animal welfare, but from an economic point of view these are difficult to implement on existing pig farms.

Dutch agricultural daily Agrarisch Dagblad reported on this conclusion as presented by the Dutch Agri- and Horticultural Organisation (LTO), the Dutch animal rights protection organisation (Dierenbescherming) and researchers from Wageningen University and Research Centre, earlier this week.

ComfortClass pens

For four years, the scientists had closely monitored pigs that were put into so-called 'ComfortClass' pens, near the town of Raalte, the Netherlands. In these pens, the pigs have more space than usual, more feeding opportunities and more places to root. On the basis of activities and ulcers, it was confirmed that animal welfare was increased, as was expected.

In the trial pig house, tail biting, which often happens out of frustration, occurred a lot less than usual. In addition, it was researched whether pigs prefer to eat jointly or alone. Although pigs are considered to be social animals, the scientists were surprised to find that in about 50% of the cases, the pigs preferred to be alone during a meal. 

Pig house applications
A number of applications in these trial farms have been applied in pig houses of six pig producers. 

By e.g. creating larger groups of pigs, more space per pig was created. In addition, manure, feeding and lying areas have been separated by walls.

Construction of ComfortClass pig houses in practice, however, proved to be difficult. These extra allowances will not be feasible without additional financial remuneration. This would change incase meat of animals from ComfortClass would appear in supermarkets using a different brand, both LTO and the animal welfare organisation think. 

Both consider this as a next step to a better life for pigs.

Agricultural minister
Dutch minister Gerda Verburg for Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality was given the research's outcomes and announced to supply an additional €10 million/year for investments in expensive animal housing.

Related websites:
Dutch ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality
Dutch Agri- and Horticultural Organisation (LTO)
Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR) 
Agrarisch Dagblad

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