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Collaboration on development of new pig unit

by 5m Editor
5 November 2003, at 12:00am

NETHERLANDS - A new type of pig unit that satisfies the natural needs of pigs – that is the ultimate aim of a development project that the Dutch agricultural organisation LTO-Nederland has launched with the Dierenbescherming, the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals.

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This unique collaboration between parties with different interests is typical of the Netherlands.

The third party in the collaborative venture is Wageningen University and Research Centre (WUR). The object of the development project is to test whether the theory works in practice, i.e. whether the new type of pig unit actually helps improve animal welfare. To do this, an experimental unit is to be built at the Research Institute for Animal Husbandry's research and information centre in Raalte. Research here also focuses on organic pig farming.

The project comprises three phases. During the first phase the welfare requirements will be formulated, based on the needs of pigs. Besides having access to feed and water, pigs must be able to sleep, root, search and play freely. The new housing will then be designed with these requirements in mind.

During the second phase the project plan will be developed out in more detail. On the basis of the housing design, the financial aspects of the project will be finalised. The third phase will involve building and testing the design to see whether the unit system does actually help improve animal welfare and whether it can compete with existing systems in terms of performance. Another aspect that will be examined is whether parts of the system can be used to make changes in existing pig farming systems.

The project demonstrates that the Dutch pig industry is making great efforts to adjust its production methods to meet the wishes of the market. It is typical of the Dutch “polder model“ that parties with different interests work together to achieve the desired result. This approach has already proved to be very effective in the animal sector. The current situation where more than 90% of veal farms already meet the future EU rules on group housing stems directly from agreements reached between the Dutch veal industry and the Dutch Society for the Protection of Animals in the 1990s.

Source: Dutch Meat Board - 5th November 2003

5m Editor