Impact of animal welfare on costs and viability of pig production in the UK

The European Union welfare standardsfor intensively kept pigs have steadilyincreased over the past few years and areproposed to continue in the future. It isimportant that the cost implications of thesechanges in welfare standards are assessed. Theaim of this study was to determine theprofitability of rearing pigs in a range ofhousing systems with different standards forpig welfare. Models were constructed tocalculate the cost of pig rearing (6–95 kg) in afully-slatted system (fulfilling minimum EUspace requirements, Directive 91630/EEC); apartly-slatted system; a high-welfare,straw-based system (complying with the UK-basedRoyal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty toAnimals, Freedom Food standards) and afree-range system. The models were also used toassess the consequences of potential increasesin space allowance, and to estimate the cost ofrearing pigs under organic standards.The cost of rearing pigs ranged from92.0 p/kg carcass weight (cw) and 94.6 p/kgcw forthe partly-slatted and fully-slatted systems,to 98.8 p/kgcw and 99.3 p/kgcw for the FreedomFood and free-range systems respectively. Whenspace allowance was increased by 60% to levelsin a recent proposal to revise pig welfareDirective (91/630/EEC), the rearing costs wereunchanged for the free-range system but rose by4.6 p/kgcw for the fully-slatted system. Rearingcosts under organic standards were 31% higherthan in the free-range system. These resultssuggest that improved pig welfare can beachieved with a modest increase in cost.
Keywords economics  pig housing  pigmeat  welfare
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1022994131594
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