The goal of this study was to compare conventional and organic fattening pig production in the Netherlands in global warming potential (GWP), land use (LU), and animal welfare and to study whether a trade-off or synergy exist between environmental impact and animal welfare. To determine GWP and LU, diets for conventional and organic fattening pigs were compared.
Nowadays, sustainability is regarded as an important topic. This study considered aspects of environmental and social sustainability of pig production systems in the Netherlands, and focussed on global warming potential (GWP), land use (LU) and animal welfare of fattening pigs. Two types of production systems were distinguished: conventional and organic pig production systems. Environmental impact was determined focussing on feed cultivation and processing. The goal of this study was to compare conventional and organic fattening pig production in the Netherlands in GWP, LU and animal welfare and to study whether a trade-off or synergy exist between environmental impact and animal welfare. To determine GWP and LU, diets for conventional and organic fattening pigs were compared. GWP and LU were calculated using modelling, using feed intake per kg of carcass weight gain (CW) as functional unit. The difference in animal welfare was tested using a dataset of a Welfare Quality® protocol originating from another study. Data from 64 Dutch conventional and 16 Dutch organic fattening pig farms were used. Welfare indicators from issues health, behaviour and post mortem data were selected and tested for significant differences.
Environmental impact was highest for the diet of organic fattening pigs. GWP was 2.36 kg CO2-eq/kg of CW and LU was 5.41 m2/kg of CW for the conventional diet. GWP and LU was 3.04 kg CO2-eq/kg of CW and 9.88 m2/kg of CW for the organic diet. Results are assumed to provide a rough estimation of difference in the environmental impact between organic and conventional pig production systems including the entire chain. It was not possible to clearly demonstrate a difference in animal welfare between conventional and organic fattening pigs. In both systems, specific problems were found in health. Organic fattening pigs seemed to perform better in a behavioural perspective and conventional fattening pigs had better post mortem performance.
No trade-off or synergy could be determined between health and environmental impact. However, a trade-off effect was found between animal behaviour and environmental impact and a synergy was found between post mortem data and environmental impact.
Student: MA Schellekens
Supervisors: dr ir C van Middelaar, dr ir E Bokkers