Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Technological innovations to improve animal welfare in poultry and pigs

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, farming, behaviour, health, welfare assessment
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (9)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  25025  PhD Maksimiljan Brus  Animal production  Researcher  2018 - 2020  312 
2.  11184  PhD Alenka Dovč  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2018 - 2020  472 
3.  22607  PhD Dušanka Jordan  Animal production  Researcher  2018 - 2020  155 
4.  24640  MSc Rahela Juršič Cizerl  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2018 - 2020  50 
5.  11563  PhD Stanislav Kapun  Plant production  Researcher  2018 - 2020  192 
6.  27890  PhD Maja Prevolnik Povše  Animal production  Researcher  2018 - 2020  255 
7.  14933  PhD Dušan Terčič  Animal production  Researcher  2018 - 2020  211 
8.  08023  PhD Olga Zorman Rojs  Veterinarian medicine  Researcher  2018 - 2020  422 
9.  30765  PhD Manja Zupan Šemrov  Biotechnical sciences  Head  2018 - 2020  274 
Organisations (5)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0406  University of Ljubljana, Veterinary Faculty  Ljubljana  1627139  10,694 
2.  0481  University of Ljubljana, Biotechnical Faculty  Ljubljana  1626914  66,575 
3.  0482  University of Maribor, Faculty of Agriculture and Life Sciences  Hoče  5089638004  9,837 
4.  1394  Kmetijsko gozdarska zbornica Slovenije Kmetijsko gozdarski zavod Murska sobota (Slovene)  Murska Sobota  5129940000  419 
5.  2106  PERUTNINA PTUJ reja perutnine, proizvodnja krmil, perutninskega mesa in izdelkov, trgovina in storitve d.o.o. (Slovene)  Ptuj  5141966  57 
In modern society, the welfare of farm animals has an important role in ensuring the sustainable development of agriculture-livestock production in Europe and worldwide. We have to be aware that such development can be achieved only by the introduction of new or upgraded production technologies. This requires new knowledge in the fields of ethology, housing and management systems, as well as health care. In pig and poultry production, new housing systems limiting keel bone damage in laying hens and tail biting in group housed pigs need to be developed. Following this, laying hens will be exposed to additional source of vitamin D while pigs will be given a social toy as an enrichment object, which has never been tested in the practice before. Risk factor analysis for tail biting (known to reduce pigs' life quality, pork quality and cause great economic losses) will contribute to a greater awareness of breeders and professional service on this issue. For the first time, a report on the welfare of turkeys in Slovenian flocks will be provided and a draft protocol for assessment of turkey welfare developed. The goal of the project is also to optimise the welfare assessment protocol for broilers and to check possible correlations between the objective indicators of broiler chick quality in the first week of life and welfare score before slaughter. The analysis of collected data will help competent authorities in monitoring the welfare of pigs, laying hens, broilers and turkeys. Three scientific organizations from two different Slovenian universities will participate in the project together with economic company and public agricultural professional service. The emphasis of the project is to gain comprehensive ethological knowledge under commercial conditions and to involve farmers in the development of technological innovations for animal friendlier rearing conditions and safer food for consumers. The project will also contribute to the recognition of Slovenia in the research field of farm animal welfare.
Significance for science
Pig production In 2016, the Commission Recommendation (EU) 2016/336 on the application of Council Directive 2008/120/EC laying down minimum standards for the protection of pigs came into force with regard to measures to reduce the need for tail docking in pigs. The Commission reminds the Member States of their obligation to respect the above mentioned Directive, i.e. to use the available/existing good practices and to develop new one in this field of science. New discoveries/findings in ethology and farming would consequently have a positive effect on the visibility of Slovenia abroad; e.g. Slovenia could the example of a Member State who tested the theoretical scientific hypotheses in practical conditions on pig farms. New knowledge and innovations in the field of animal welfare would help to demonstrate that it is possible to abandon tail docking also on small-scale farms and thus reduce the fear of breeders and advisors as regards abandonment of this routine procedure. From the experts point of view the results of the research are important, as the research will provide updated and up-to-date data on the status of tail biting (percentage, extent, severity, consequences) for the Slovenian situation. Based on the analysis of the risk factors for the occurrence of tail biting (importance/severity and frequency of individual risk factors) different measures will be recommended to prevent the occurrence of this phenomenon or to reduce/repair damage that may arise. Understanding these factors allows us to act in the case of an outbreak of tail biting (such as changing (social) environment, adding appropriate enrichment material, increasing space per animal, optimizing feeding regime and feeding, alleviating health problems and improving climatic conditions). These measures can be introduced individually or sequentially, which helps us identify the factors that cause tail biting on a particular farm.   Poultry The causes of poor health and reproduction, a higher proportion of losses and, consequently, poor welfare can be found in the quality of day old chickens, breeders' management or both. By determining the welfare relevant indicators (e.g., the quality of broiler chickens in the first week after the housing, indicators for the remaining period of the issue), the experts will gain an important quidelines, which to follow in the breeding to achieve better animal welfare and consequently economy on the farm. In comparison with chickens, the area of assessing the welfare of broiler turkeys in the European area is still poorly developed. The development of an assessment protocol for turkeys and implementation in practice will thus be an important focus for the international professional public. Within the project we will also obtain the first data on the state and problems of the welfare of turkeys in Slovenia. Next, we will study the influence of laying hen genotypes and two ways of supplying vitamin D (water soluble vitamin D in the stable, the formation of vitamin D through UV light on the pasture), the incidence and severity of fracture damage as well as bone strength and the quality of the eggs with particular emphasis on the quality of the shell. In this way, we want to see whether the possibility of improved diet and rearing affects the improved state of the keel bone, and by that animal welfare, as well as the quality of products which improves the economy of breeding.
Significance for the country
Pig production Slovenian pig production is in an unenviable situation, as self-supply of pig meat constantly decreases (it is already below 30%). The possibility to improve the situation is in the competition and promotion of breeding of pigs in systems/conditions that allow animals to express their natural behaviour and do not practice tail docking. Tail biting is not important from the ethical point of view only, but is also an economic and health issue. Based on detailed analysis of the risk factors for this phenomenon, measures to prevent and reduce the consequences will be proposed and the limits of action determined, which would help farmers to improve production results and improve the competitiveness and economic result of breeding. Furthermore, the criteria/indicators related to animal welfare can be used as a basis for establishing chains for the production of higher quality products, which can also have a beneficial effect on the economic outcome of breeding. The importance of our project is also in the inclusion of easily degradable cotton manipulative social toys in the existing pig welfare program in Slovenia. The latter will be possible if our research proves the social toy as an example of good practice for reducing tail biting.   Poultry The draft protocol for assessing the welfare of broilers and turkeys could be a valuable tool for the breeders and the experts in monitoring the welfare of animals, as it will be possible to gain insight into the state of the flock from the animal point of view in a relatively short period of time. Regular monitoring of the individual welfare indicators would enable to timely determine the critical points in the individual flock, which would help to improve the management and farming, the housing conditions, the health and, consequently, the economy. Better income would certainly encourage farmers to integrate monitoring of welfare indicators into daily routines. Economics is also one of the areas that could be improved with the increased intake of vitamin D in the diet of laying hens or with the possibility of using the outdoor area. Such rearing innovation would not be difficult, and the consequences on animal welfare and the competitiveness of products from such farming would be better.
Most important scientific results Annual report 2018, 2019, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2018, 2019, final report
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