Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Animal welfare including health of poultry and pigs in conventional and alternative housing systems

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
4.02.03  Biotechnical sciences  Animal production  Ethology and technology in stock-breeding 

Code Science Field
B400  Biomedical sciences  Zootechny, animal husbandry, breeding 

Code Science Field
4.02  Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences  Animal and Dairy science 
animal welfare, poultry, pigs, health, housing systems, protocol
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (19)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  25025  PhD Maksimiljan Brus  Animal production  Researcher  2016 - 2018  313 
2.  15561  PhD Matjaž Červek  Animal production  Researcher  2016 - 2018  88 
3.  11184  PhD Alenka Dovč  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  477 
4.  21229  PhD Irena Golinar Oven  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  110 
5.  22607  PhD Dušanka Jordan  Animal production  Researcher  2016 - 2018  157 
6.  24640  MSc Rahela Juršič Cizerl  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  50 
7.  23320  PhD Uroš Krapež  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  182 
8.  16308  PhD Alenka Nemec Svete  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  218 
9.  50067  Mojca Pančur  Animal production  Researcher  2017 - 2018  16 
10.  38981  Jan Plut  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2017 - 2018  65 
11.  27890  PhD Maja Prevolnik Povše  Animal production  Researcher  2016 - 2018  259 
12.  10893  PhD Nataša Siard  Animal production  Researcher  2016 - 2018  86 
13.  29460  PhD Janko Skok  Animal production  Researcher  2016 - 2018  131 
14.  22446  PhD Brigita Slavec  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  206 
15.  01364  PhD Dejan Škorjanc  Biotechnical sciences  Researcher  2016 - 2018  435 
16.  19156  PhD Marina Štukelj  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  222 
17.  14933  PhD Dušan Terčič  Animal production  Researcher  2016 - 2018  216 
18.  08023  PhD Olga Zorman Rojs  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2016 - 2018  424 
19.  30765  PhD Manja Zupan Šemrov  Biotechnical sciences  Head  2016 - 2018  282 
Organisations (5)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0406  University of Ljubljana, Veterinary Faculty  Ljubljana  1627139  10,947 
2.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  67,269 
3.  0482  University of Maribor, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences  Hoče  5089638004  9,966 
4.  0489  EMONA - Nutrition Research & Development Department  Ljubljana  5326974000  214 
5.  2106  PERUTNINA PTUJ reja perutnine, proizvodnja krmil, perutninskega mesa in izdelkov, trgovina in storitve d.o.o. (Slovene)  Ptuj  5141966  57 
Sustainable development, which includes environmental and climatic conditions, and an emphasis on animal welfare, has been gaining an increased importance in the development of agriculture-livestock production in Europe. At the same time the consumers, when deciding to purchase animal products, pay more and more attention to the housing conditions farm animals were exposed to. Different rearing conditions in conventional or alternative systems, especially in group housed animals, affect differently the development of behavior abnormalities such as cannibalism in laying hens and pigs, as well as the onset of dermatitis in broilers and general welfare. There is no legislation (laws or directives) available in Slovenia to ensure the welfare of animals in various housing systems of poultry and pigs. Therefore, in this project we will test the protocols and indicators as a non-invasive way to assess the welfare of poultry and pigs, and establish critical limits of animal welfare, including health care, with emphasis on an individual animal. With this we will make the first scientific assessment of the welfare of poultry and pigs in conventional and alternative housing systems in Slovenia and get the first detailed insight into the state of welfare on the commercial farms. Also, individual housing systems will be described the first time in terms of animal welfare, which will enable housing systems and the corresponding animal products to be better recognized. Furthermore, the project will test innovative approaches to reduce cannibalism as the use of repellents in laying hens and by testing different ways of creating groups of pigs after weaning. At the same time, we will monitor indicators of stress, such as biomarkers of oxidative stress in the blood and saliva of pigs and the concentration of corticosterone and immunoglobulins feathers and eggs in laying hens or broilers. As for laying hens in practice, in addition to cannibalism, keel bone damage represents a big welfare problem, so one of the project key objectives will include the monitoring thereof in the various housing systems. We will also prepare recommendations on the possibilities of their prevention. The last, but not the least key objective of the project is an interdisciplinary approach to investigate the problem of welfare including health care of poultry and pigs. The project will consist of the three scientific organizations from two different universities in Slovenia that will closely work with the industry. Together we want to introduce technological innovations that will allow the animal-friendly rearing conditions and provide safer food for consumers.
Significance for science
21.1.1. Pig production In the last decade a new findings in the fields of animal behaviour and veterinary science followed by the changes in the market/consumers trends, have rise a need of a new pig-welfare model, which focuses on the husbandry changes towards providing the environment in which the animal can express the natural behaviours. The new model, in addition, provide an omission of the breeding measures which results in a permanent animal deformations – e.g. surgical castration, tail/teeth clipping etc. The new knowledge and innovations on the field of animal welfare would, therefore, contributed importantly to the improvement of the extant pig-breeding systems and consequently an animal health. Indeed, a new breeding system would provide an enriched living environment in which natural and social behaviours can be expressed. Consequently, an improved breeding system would also prevent animals from deviate behaviours (frustrations) that often results in aggression, and ultimately in injuries (also self-inflicted), various diseases and parasitoses. Oral fluid sampling is a non-invasive method of sample collection for further testing. No information about determination of oxidative stress levels via oral fluid was found in available scientific literature. Possibility of determining oxidative stress from oral fluid would be a novelty in the field of oral fluid testing and would represent one more measurable parameter in oral fluid diagnostics. This would be one step closer to possible elimination of stressful blood drawing in pigs and significant contribution to welfare improvement. 21.1.2 Poultry production A number of genetic, nutritional, management and environmental strategies are being promoted as an alternative to beak trimming. The alternatives have some potential to be effective in various management situations, but there is no guarantee that cannibalism and feather pecking will be prevented. Recognising that the requirement to stop routine beak trimming is representing a major technical challenge to the poultry industry the goal of the study is to develop an animal-friendly method for preventing feather pecking and cannibalism and eliminating beak trimming by using repellents. Pilot studies (Harlander-Matauschek and Rodenburg, 2011) have demonstrated that the use of repellents appears to reduce short-term feather pecking. However, more research is necessary to conclusively establish the impact of particular repellents on plumage condition.
Significance for the country
21.2.1. Pig production Number of pigs in Slovenia has been gradually declining over the last years. Pork self-sufficiency has reached only 25%. One of the reasons for that trend is poor health status of Slovenian pig herds in correlation with inadequate welfare situation. Implementation of easy-to-use protocols for assessing animal welfare, setting limits for taking measures and actually implementing measures for improving welfare quality would help improving the productivity of Slovenian pig farms, therefore improving domestic economic competitiveness.  21.2.2. Poultry production It is in the Slovenian and international industry's interest, from an economic as well as a welfare perspective, to continue exploring alternative methods for dealing with problem of feather pecking and cannibalism. Study will not only lead to production methods that are more acceptable to society but can be effective in improving farm profits by eliminating costs for beak trimming, allowing better hen performance and reducing mortalities. More profitable egg production will undoubtely encouraged poultry producers to adopt proposed  innovative strategies in practice.
Most important scientific results Final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Final report
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