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POWER (Tierwohl und Resilienz in der Bioschweinehaltung)

Title OriginalPOWER (Proven Welfare and Resilience in organic pig production)

European organic pig farming continues to face challenges to its ecologic and economic competitiveness. High piglet mortality, reduced health post-weaning and environmental issues related to ammonia emissions and nutrient leaching require improved resilience at animal and production system level. POWER provides new scientific and practical knowledge in 3 focus areas: 1) Design and management of housing systems offering growing-finishing pigs a stimulus-rich (natural) environment, whilst reducing the risk of emissions from outdoor areas, 2) Farrowing nest design and genetics to improve survival of piglets and 3) Management strategies to improve gut health and piglet performance following weaning.

The project involves partners in 8 countries. It will identify and demonstrate best practices in various combinations of housing and pasture systems related to animal welfare, feed efficiency and environmental impact. An overall assessment of cost effectiveness and environmental impact of the investigated innovations will assure practical guidelines on cost- and eco-efficient pig practice.

Detailed Description

POWER addresses some of the main challenges to European pig farming, with a focus on the young animal (suckling piglets, weaners and growing-finishing pigs).

It has one overall aim: to support the development of a variety of resilient and competitive organic pig production systems across Europe, with low ecological footprints and high animal welfare.
The specific objectives are:

  1. To investigate the effects of different designs of concrete outdoor runs on growing-finishing pig behaviour, health and pen hygiene. This will improve animal welfare and reduce nutrient losses;
  2. To investigate the effects of the farrowing pen design, as well as improved genetics on maternal behaviour and piglet mortality;
  3. To investigate the effects of different management strategies (e.g. iron or probiotic supply, prolonged lactation) on piglet growth and health during lactation and after weaning;
  4. To identify and field-test best practice examples of different combinations of housing and pasture systems, considering productivity, feed efficiency, animal health and manure/pasture management;
  5. To evaluate the overall effect of the identified innovative solutions of points 1 to 4 on cost effectiveness, system resilience and ecological footprints of a variety of systems practiced across Europe;
  6. To provide guidelines for organic pig producers across Europe on the development of ecological and economically competitive pig systems with high standards for animal welfare.

A key to these objectives is the improvement of resilience at the animal and production system level:

  • at animal level: the ability to withstand and overcome e.g. diseases, social and nutritional challenges;
  • at the production system level: the ability to successfully negotiate changes in feed costs, revenues or legislation.

The project builds on earlier work which suggests that husbandry conditions have an effect on disease resistance in pigs, possibly through stress reduction.

This leads to our overarching working hypothesis that it is possible to increase overall resilience of organic pig systems across Europe through targeted welfare, environmental and economic research, in combination with stakeholder-driven identification of best practices.

Financing/ Donor
  • Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) / CORE Organic Cofund
(Research) Program
  • Federal Office for Agriculture (FOAG) – Research, training and innovation
Project partners
  • AU-AGRO: Aarhus University, Department of Agroecology
  • BOKU: University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna
  • TI-OL: Johann Heinrich von Thünen Institute, Federal Research Institute for Rural Areas, Forestry and Fisheries, Institute of Organic Farming
  • CREA-SUI: Consiglio per Ia ricerca in agricoltura e l'analisi dell'economia agraria
  • WUR: Wageningen Livestock Research
  • INRA: INRA UMR 1348 Physiologie, Environnement et Genetique pour I'Animal et les Systemes d'Eievage
  • RISE: SP Technical Research Institute of Sweden
FiBL project leader/ contact
FiBL project staff
  • Alföldi Thomas (Department of Extension, Training and Communication)
  • Holinger Mirjam (Department of Livestock Sciences)
  • Jenni Anna (Department of Livestock Sciences)
  • Meier Matthias (Department of Socio-Economic Sciences)
  • Moakes Simon (Department of Socio-Economic Sciences)
  • Weidmann Gilles (Department of Extension, Training and Communication)
(people who are not linked are former FiBL employees)
Role of FiBL

Project partner

FiBL project number 55314
Date modified 11.08.2020
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