POWER – to strengthen welfare and resilience in organic pig production

The CORE Organic Cofund project POWER will contribute to remove significant obstacles in organic pig farming by focusing on the young pigs.

European organic pig farming continues to face challenges regarding its ecological and economic competitiveness. High piglet mortality, reduced health post-weaning and environmental issues related to ammonia emissions and nutrient leaching require improved resilience at animal and production system level. The POWER project will contribute to this development by addressing the start of the production cycle: the young organically reared pig. 

The project will provide new scientific and practical knowledge in three focus areas: 

  1. Farrowing nest design and genetics to improve survival of piglets.
  2. Management strategies to improve gut health and piglet performance following weaning. Reducing stress by offering the right environment will increase the ability of young animals to cope with the first stressful weeks of life and keep them healthier, thus reducing the need for contentious inputs like antibiotics.
  3. Design and management of housing systems offering growing-finishing pigs a stimulus-rich (natural) environment, whilst reducing the risk of emissions from outdoor areas. 

Stakeholder-driven activities and best practises

The project involves partners in eight countries with access to an extensive network in the organic sector, thus supporting stakeholder-driven activities throughout Europe. It will identify and demonstrate best practices in various combinations of housing and pasture systems related to animal welfare, feed efficiency and environmental impact. Finally, an overall assessment of cost effectiveness and environmental impact of the investigated innovations will assure practical guidelines on cost- and eco-efficient pig practice. These will be communicated via farmer targeted tutorial videos and manuals in several European languages.

Through research on animal welfare, the farming environment and farm economics, and through best practices identified via the stakeholder network, POWER will contribute to resolving some of the most significant obstacles in current European organic pig farming with benefits for the whole pig sector.

Coordinator: Anne Grete Kongsted (e-mail: anneg.kongsted@agro.au.dk)

Partner countries: DK, AT, DE, IT, NL, FR, SE & CH 

CORE Organic Cofund is an ERA-NET funded by the European Commission´s
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme for Research and Innovation Contract No. 727495.