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This report provides a characterization of Danish pig herds with production of finishers in 2007- 2008. The report is based on the results of telephone interviews with 195 pig producers (47 organic producers, 27 producers of free range pigs and 121 conventional producers). Producers were mainly asked questions about housing, feeding, management and diseases in the herd, and producers who had pigs in paddocks, were also asked specific questions about the outdoor areas. The study focused primarily on the finishers, and may be considered reasonably representative for the majority of finishers in the three herd types, but the smallest herds are underrepresented. Information on sows and piglets was only included from integrated herds and sow herds with the same owner as the slaughter pig herd. Some of the differences between herd types can be directly attributed to the regulatory frameworks for organic pig production, the Friland A/S free range concept production and the SPF-production. Conventional finisher herds were larger than herds of the two alternative herd types. The largest herds with an annual slaughter of more than 8000 pigs were found exclusively among the conventional herds. Many large herds were also seen among free range herds. The organic herds had the lowest annual slaughter, and annual slaughters less than 1000 organic pigs were common. Close to two thirds of the organic herds had sows compared to only 20% of the conventional herds and 30% of the free range herds. Purchase of pigs was more common in conventional herds and free range herds, their number of weaners and growers purchased was higher compared to the organic herds, but they had fewer supplier herds. The majority of finishers in all herd types were LYxD hybrids. The average live weight at slaughter was 107 kg for pigs from conventional and organic herds vs. 111 kg for free range herds. While large litters in the conventional herds usually was handled by using nurse sows, cross fostering was used in most alternative herds. In virtually all herds in the study the piglets were castrated. Tail docking of pig was common practice in almost all conventional herds, and in about 20% of the herds, the piglets’ teeth were grinded. Neither tail docking nor teeth grinding were practiced in any of the organic herds or free range herds. In conventional herds piglets were weaned on average at an age of 30 days vs. 34 days in free range herds and 53 days in organic herds. Virtually all of the conventional herds were closed herds with all pigs housed without access to outdoor areas. In the alternative herds, pigs of all ages had outdoor access, either in paddocks or with access to a limited outdoor area connected to the stable. All alternative herds had lactating sows in paddocks, and pregnant sows were in paddocks in all organic herds and in 60% of the free range herds. In 20% of the organic herds weaners, growers and finisher pigs were raised in paddocks, while the rest of the organic pigs and pigs in free range herds were in stables with access to an outdoor area. The presence of animal species other than pigs on the farm was more common in the alternative herds than in conventional herds, and also access for dogs, cats and wild birds to areas with pigs and areas with stored feed and bedding material was more frequently reported in these types of herds. The distance between the alternative herds and other pig herds was generally longer than for conventional herds, but their distance to cattle herds was generally shorter. Slurry or manure from other herds was spread closer to the organic herds than to conventional and free range herds. The conventional producers more often than the alternative producers perceived the occurrence of rodents at the farm to be low, and they were more likely than the alternative producers to have contract with a company on rodent control. In almost all conventional herds finishers were housed on fully or partially slatted floors with little or no straw bedding, and half of the conventional herds had fully slatted floors without straw bedding. No pigs in alternative herds were kept on fully slatted floors, and in one third of the herds finishers only had solid floor. In all alternative herds straw bedding was used, and in two-thirds of the alternative herds, finishers were housed on deep litter. The pen area for finishers in the conventional herds was less than 1 m2 per pig and frequently less than 0.75 m2 per pig. Finishers in free range herds had about the same indoor area as conventional pigs, but had additionally access to a limited outdoor area. In the organic herds both the indoor and the outdoor areas were in general larger than in the other two herd types. Compared to alternative herds, many conventional herds had sectioned stables for piglets, growers and finishers, their sections were larger, and the possibility of snout contact between pigs in neighbouring pens was more common. More than two-thirds of the conventional herds used batch production in sectioned units with desiccation and disinfection of the batches, and they used a variety of products for disinfection. Particularly among the organic herds the use of batch production, sectioning, desiccation of the pens and disinfectants was less common, and only a few types of disinfectants were used. The paddocks were frequently kept empty between batches, while emptying the paddocks for longer periods in the cold season was not used to the same extent. In two thirds of the conventional herds, pigs were fed home-mixed feed, and in approx. 40% of the herds pigs were fed liquid feed. Both home-mixed feed and liquid feed was more frequently used in the largest conventional herds. In about one half of the herds, whey or brewer’s yeast was added to the liquid feed. In the alternative herds pelleted commercial feed was the most common feed type. In the free range herds feed components with coarse feed structure was often added to pelleted feed, but this was not common in the organic herds. While liquid feeding was not used in the alternative herd types, organic acids were more often added to the feed in these herds than in the conventional herds. Besides barley, the feed for conventional and free range finishers contained a high proportion of wheat and, compared to the feed for organic finishers, less frequently other types of grain. Soybean products was by far the most common source of protein for conventional finishers and free range finishers, while the organic finishers often were supplied with other sources of protein such as peas, canola and potato protein concentrate. As opposed to conventional herds and free range herds, the finishers were fed roughage in all organic herds. Conventional and organic producers tended to more frequently use a special diet for growers, while free range producers more often used a special feed in the last period before slaughter. Almost all conventional producers and free range producers had a health agreement contract with a veterinarian, while this only applied to 30% of the organic producers. Half of the conventional herds were SPF herds compared to only approx. 10% of the alternative herds. There were some differences in the reported presence of swine diseases in the three herd types. Among others, enzootic pneumonia and gastric ulcers were more common in conventional herds and free range herds compared to organic herds and pleuropneumonia occurred more frequently in conventional herds than in organic herds. Further, more free range herds reported presence of PMWS than both organic and conventional herds. Only few herds (mainly organic herds) used probiotics and other alternative medication to prevent or treat diseases in the herd.
Original languageDanish
Place of PublicationSøborg
PublisherDanmarks Tekniske Universitet, Fødevareinstituttet
Number of pages98
ISBN (print)978-87-92158-18-5
StatePublished - Feb 2011
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ID: 6339740