Assessment of animal welfare problems in Finnish cattle and pig farms based on official inspection reports

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Abstract

Simple Summary Official on-farm inspections are carried out throughout the European Union every year to ensure farm compliance with animal welfare standards. The aim of this study was to analyze Finnish inspection data in order to find out how well cattle and pig farms comply with animal welfare standards, to reveal the most common non-compliances and to identify possible farm risk factors. About every fourth inspected Finnish cattle and pig farm did not comply with the animal welfare standards. Examples of factors that increased the risk of non-compliance were small herd size, tie-stall housing and outdoor rearing. Inadequate lying area in cattle farms and a lack of enrichment material in pig farms were the most common non-compliances. The regional differences found may indicate differences in inspectors' interpretations or ways in conducting inspections. As the official inspection reports contain valuable information about the welfare problems on farms, the reports should be better utilized in risk analysis, in targeting farmer education, and in making the inspections more uniform.

Abstract The competent authorities of the Member States of the European Union are required to perform animal welfare inspections on livestock farms. The data obtained from these official inspections performed in Finnish cattle and pig farms in 2010-2015 were used with the aim of estimating the prevalence of the most common non-compliances and identifying underlying risk factors. The prevalence of non-compliant cattle and pig farms was 24.2% and 27.9%, respectively. In cattle, the most common problem was an inadequate lying area followed by deficient housing conditions for calves; in pigs, it was a lack of enrichment material. The non-compliances concerning cattle were most frequently detected in autumn and in farms with small herd size, with tie-stall housing and outdoor rearing year-round. The pig farms with a farrow-to-finish unit had a higher prevalence of non-compliances than other production types. The prevalence of the non-compliant farms differed notably between the regions. It can be concluded that the cattle welfare inspections should be performed with a focus on the cold and rainy seasons and at small farms, whereas the pig welfare inspections should mainly focus on farrow-to-finish units. The data received from official inspections should be efficiently utilized in the development of animal welfare inspection system, with the aim of risk-based, consistent and uniform inspections. In addition, the data should be utilized in targeting information for farmers.

Original languageEnglish
Article number263
JournalAnimals
Volume9
Issue number5
Number of pages19
ISSN2076-2615
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • BEHAVIOR
  • BODY CONDITION
  • COWS
  • DAIRY-CATTLE
  • HOLSTEIN
  • MEMBERSHIP
  • MILK-PRODUCTION
  • PASTURE
  • PIGLETS
  • SOLAR-RADIATION
  • animal welfare
  • cattle farms
  • inspections
  • non-compliance
  • pig farms
  • 413 Veterinary science

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