Sampling pig farms at the abattoir in a cross-sectional study − Evaluation of a sampling method

Anna Camilla Birkegård, Tariq Hisham Beshara Halasa, Nils Toft

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

    399 Downloads (Pure)


    A cross-sectional study design is relatively inexpensive, fast and easy to conduct when compared to other study designs. Careful planning is essential to obtaining a representative sample of the population, and the recommended approach is to use simple random sampling from an exhaustive list of units in the target population. This approach is rarely feasible in practice, and other sampling procedures must often be adopted. For example, when slaughter pigs are the target population, sampling the pigs on the slaughter line may be an alternative to on-site sampling at a list of farms. However, it is difficult to sample a large number of farms from an exact predefined list, due to the logistics and workflow of an abattoir. Therefore, it is necessary to have a systematic sampling procedure and to evaluate the obtained sample with respect to the study objective. We propose a method for 1) planning, 2) conducting, and 3) evaluating the representativeness and reproducibility of a cross-sectional study when simple random sampling is not possible. We used an example of a cross-sectional study with the aim of quantifying the association of antimicrobial resistance and antimicrobial consumption in Danish slaughter pigs. It was not possible to visit farms within the designated timeframe. Therefore, it was decided to use convenience sampling at the abattoir. Our approach was carried out in three steps: 1) planning: using data from meat inspection to plan at which abattoirs and how many farms to sample; 2) conducting: sampling was carried out at five abattoirs; 3) evaluation: representativeness was evaluated by comparing sampled and non-sampled farms, and the reproducibility of the study was assessed through simulated sampling based on meat inspection data from the period where the actual data collection was carried out.In the cross-sectional study samples were taken from 681 Danish pig farms, during five weeks from February to March 2015. The evaluation showed that the sampling procedure was reproducible with results comparable to the collected sample. However, the sampling procedure favoured sampling of large farms. Furthermore, both under-sampled and over-sampled areas were found using scan statistics. In conclusion, sampling conducted at abattoirs can provide a spatially representative sample. Hence it is a possible cost-effective alternative to simple random sampling. However, it is important to assess the properties of the resulting sample so that any potential selection bias can be addressed when reporting the findings.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalPreventive Veterinary Medicine
    Pages (from-to)83-90
    Number of pages8
    Publication statusPublished - 2017


    • Sampling procedure
    • Pig farm
    • Cross-Sectional study
    • Slaughterhouse
    • Abattoir


    Dive into the research topics of 'Sampling pig farms at the abattoir in a cross-sectional study − Evaluation of a sampling method'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this