A major research project to develop a system of assessing pig welfare using welfare outcomes as indicators has been launched by the British Pig Executive, BPEX.

BPEX and the University of Bristol have identified lameness, tail lesions, body lesions, hospitalisation and enrichment to use as suitable indicators of finisher pigs’ well-being in pilot trials. Sows will also be assessed for body condition score, shoulder and vulva lesions.

These indicators will provide a starting point for vets and producers to discuss whether there are any aspects of the pigs’ environment or management that could be changed to further improve welfare and productivity.

The project aims to establish benchmarks for real pig welfare that work across all types of production systems. Around 20 pig vets will make assessments on 180 commercial pig farms, starting early this year. A total of 360 farm visits will be made to gather the information.