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