Robust animals in sustainable mixed free-range systems
To reach the European Green Deal ambition of “at least 25 % of the EU’s agricultural land under organic farming by 2030” it is essential to support consumer interest and trust in organic animal products. Free-range pig systems comply well with consumer expectations and support the organic principles of “natural living”. Free-range access reduces the need for antibiotics, lowers the capital for stable and may decrease the carbon footprint compared to indoor systems. Managing pigs free-range can be challenging and free-range access in pig-farming is declining or virtually non-existing. Biosecurity challenges, including infectious diseases and parasites and excessive land requirements are factors that the project will investigate.
ROAM-FREE believes that combining organic pig production with other livestock or better integration of pigs with (cash) crops or trees, in mixed free-range production systems, may be an attractive alternative to present day specialized pig production due to increased adaptability to climate change, changing markets and costs, and better welfare while fulfilling consumer expectations.
The project will investigate how mixed free-range production systems can improve animal robustness and welfare. As well as environmental and economic sustainability and biodiversity in organic pig farming. This will support a wider adoption of organic farming across Europe – from Norway through to Romania.
ROAM-FREE will document how existing mixed free-range systems with pigs throughout Europe perform, and describe innovative and best-practice scenarios for improved use of such systems. We expect to be able to improve the animal welfare, sustainability, and biodiversity by:
A number of existing organic pig farms with a mixed free-range production system will be enrolled by each partner and investigated as follows:
Finally, we will develop strategies for improved use of free-range area based on above results and disseminate such strategies. A European workshop will take place at the end of project.
Professor Stig Milan Thamsborg, Dept. of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark, email@example.com