The following measures have been identified by AssureWel as being important indicators of pig welfare. The criteria to select these 'core' measures included consideration as to how practical they are to assess on farm.
There are assessments for both dry sows and finishing pigs, which vary slightly in measures and assessment approach:
- Enrichment use
- Tail docking
- Nose ringing (dry sows only)
- Ear and flank biting
- Pigs needing further care
- Hospital pen
- Body marks
- Tail lesions (finishers only)
- Shoulder lesions (dry sows only)
- Vulva lesions (dry sows only)
- Manure on the body
- Leg swellings
- Skin conditions
- Body condition (dry sows only)
How to use the outcome assessment: The protocol can be used to assess the level of welfare achieved for an individual animal, farming system or farm assurance scheme.
- Producers - regular self-assessment of herds/groups or batches can help monitor welfare and provide early indicators to identify problems. For more information and support on self-assessment see our Advisory Support pages or contact AssureWel.
- Farm assurance schemes, companies, producer groups and vets - formal assessment together with feedback and benchmarking can help to improve scheme assessment, farm management and general levels of pig welfare. For more information and support contact AssureWel.
Which systems can be assessed? The measures have been developed for any pig production system.
How long does it take? The assessments for dry sows and finishers take around 30 minutes each per farm for the sample sizes suggested so can be fitted into a normal inspection.
How many pigs are assessed? Some measures require an assessment of the whole herd or collecting information from management records. There are measures that require a scan assessment of a whole pen and for other measures a sample of individual pigs (up to a maximum of 50) need to be assessed. However assessing a larger number of pigs will increase the confidence of the sample and be more representative of the whole herd. Regular self-assessment of the individual pig measures is recommended for the whole herd.
Who can carry out an assessment? Anyone with relevant livestock experience can use the protocol. Training is required to ensure reliable and accurate results. Training is available through AssureWel, to find out more contact us.
How does the AssureWel assessment work with the other welfare assessment being completed on my herd? The AssureWel team has worked in conjunction with AHDB Pork's Real Welfare to determine core measures that are assessed in a standardised way across industry. Therefore the AssureWel assessment will complement other assessments being completed. Follow the link for more information on this industry collaboration.
How to improve performance:
- Use the measures to monitor change.
- Refer to our Advisory Support pages for guidance materials on good practice and improving performance on particular outcome measures.
- Support and training for producer groups, field staff, vets and companies is also available through AssureWel, to find out more contact us.