Correlation of Animal-based parameters with environment-based parameters in an on-farm welfare assessment of growing pigs
Received: Feb 28, 2022; Revised: Mar 22, 2022; Accepted: Apr 01, 2022
Published Online: May 10, 2022
Nine pig farms were evaluated for the welfare quality in South Korea using animal- and environment-based parameters (particularly air quality parameters) during the winter of 2013. The Welfare Quality<sup>®</sup> (WQ<sup>®</sup>) protocol consists of 12 criteria within four principles. The WQ<sup>®</sup> protocol classifies farms into four categories ranging from ‘excellent’ to ‘not classified.’ Each of these criteria has specific measures for calculating scores. Calculations for the welfare scores were conducted online using the calculation model in the WQ® protocol. Environment-based parameters like microclimate (i.e., temperature, relative humidity, air speed, and particulate matter), bacteria (total airborne bacteria, airborne total coliform, and airborne total <italic>e. coli</italic>), concentration of gases (carbon dioxide, ammonia, and hydrogen sulfide) were measured to investigate the relationship between animal- and environment-based parameters. Correlations between the results of animal- and environment-based parameters were estimated using spearman correlation coefficient. The overall assessments found that five out of nine farms were 'acceptable,’ and four farms were 'enhanced'; no farm was 'not classified.' The average score for the four principles across the nine farms, in decreasing order, were 'good feeding' (63.13 points) > 'good housing' (59.26 points) > 'good health' (33.47 points) > 'appropriate behaviors' (25.48 points). In the result of the environment aspect, the relative humidity of farms 2 (93.4%), 3 (100%), and 9 (98%) was much higher than the recommended maximum relative humidity of 80%, and four out of the nine farms had ammonia concentrations greater than 40 ppm. Ammonia had negative correlations with ‘positive social behaviors’ and positive emotional states: content, enjoying, sociable, playful, lively, happy and it had positive correlations with negative emotional states: aimless, distressed. The concentration of carbon dioxide had negative correlations with positive emotional states; calm, sociable, playful, happy and it had a positive correlation with negative emotional state; aimless. Our results indicate that the control of the environment for growing pigs can help improve their welfare, particularly via good air quality (carbon dioxide, ammonia, hydrogen sulfide).