Increasing daily feeding occasions in restricted feeding strategies does not improve performance or well being of fattening pigs
Journal - Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica
BackgroundThe natural feeding behaviour of the pig is searching for feed by rooting activities throughout the day; self-feeding pigs randomly space their eating and drinking periods throughout the day consuming ten to twelve meals per day. Pigs in conventional fattening pig production are normally fed 2–3 times daily with the feed consumed within 15 minutes. The aim of this study was to determine if more frequent feedings could improve the performance of conventionally kept fattening pigs.MethodsThe experiment was carried out on 360 fattening pigs (27–112 kg live weight), weighed and assigned to pens stratified by weight and sex. Each treatment group consisted of 180 pigs, allocated to 20 pens with nine pigs in each pen. To evaluate how more feeding occasions affects performance and well-being the pigs were divided into two groups and fed three (control group) or nine (treatment group) times daily. The same total amount of liquid feed was fed to each group and the feed ration was correlated to the live weight of the pigs. All weight and slaughter recordings were made individually and recordings of feed consumption were made pen-wise. At slaughter the stomach of each pig was examined for lesions in the pars oesophagea and scored on a scale from 1–6.ResultsFrequent feeding occasions influenced both performance and status of gastric lesions of the pigs adversely. Pigs in the treatment group grew slower compared to pigs in the control group; 697 g/day (± 6.76) versus 804 g/day (± 6.78) (P < 0.001) with no difference in within-pen variation. There was also a lower prevalence of gastric lesions within pigs in the control group (2.4 (± 0.12) compared to 3.0 (± 0.12) (P < 0.01)). There was a positive correlation between gastric lesions in the treatment group and daily weight gain (r = 0.19; P < 0.01).ConclusionIncreased daily feeding occasions among group housed pigs resulted in a poorer daily weight gain and increased mean gastric lesion score as compared with pigs fed three times daily. This may be a consequence of more frequently occurring competition for feed in the treatment group. The present study does not support increased daily feeding occasions in fattening pigs.
Expert opinion as 'validation' of risk assessment applied to calf welfare
Journal - Acta Veterinaria Scandinavica
BackgroundRecently, a Risk Assessment methodology was applied to animal welfare issues in a report of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on intensively housed calves.MethodsBecause this is a new and potentially influential approach to derive conclusions on animal welfare issues, a so-called semantic-modelling type 'validation' study was conducted by asking expert scientists, who had been involved or quoted in the report, to give welfare scores for housing systems and for welfare hazards.ResultsKendall's coefficient of concordance among experts (n = 24) was highly significant (P < 0.001), but low (0.29 and 0.18 for housing systems and hazards respectively). Overall correlations with EFSA scores were significant only for experts with a veterinary or mixed (veterinary and applied ethological) background. Significant differences in welfare scores were found between housing systems, between hazards, and between experts with different backgrounds. For example, veterinarians gave higher overall welfare scores for housing systems than ethologists did, probably reflecting a difference in their perception of animal welfare.Systems with the lowest scores were veal calves kept individually in so-called "baby boxes" (veal crates) or in small groups, and feedlots. A suckler herd on pasture was rated as the best for calf welfare. The main hazards were related to underfeeding, inadequate colostrum intake, poor stockperson education, insufficient space, inadequate roughage, iron deficiency, inadequate ventilation, poor floor conditions and no bedding. Points for improvement of the Risk Assessment applied to animal welfare include linking information, reporting uncertainty and transparency about underlying values.ConclusionThe study provides novel information on expert opinion in relation to calf welfare and shows that Risk Assessment applied to animal welfare can benefit from a semantic modelling approach.