Harmonization of welfare standards for the protection of pigs with the EU-rules: the case of Croatia

W. Wellbrock, S.J. Oosting, B.B. Bock, B. Antunovic, G. Kralik

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Three quarters of Croatian pigs are produced in small production units (1-5 sows) and on family farms with mixed farming activities. Only few farms have specialized production units with up-to-date technologies and comply with EU standards. The future competitiveness of Croatian pig production is therefore questionable unless production systems are changing. Modernisation will most probably result in the expansion and intensification of larger farms and the termination of a great number of small farms. The aim of this study was to investigate how the welfare of pigs on Croatian farms would be affected by modernisation. Seventeen Croatian pig farmers were interviewed to describe the different pig production systems, while the welfare of pigs was assessed using resource-based and animal-based welfare indicators. Three production systems were distinguished: part-time family farms (PFF), full-time family farms (FFF) and farm enterprises (FE). Resources-based welfare indicators were investigated in 17 pens located on seven PFF, 25 pens distributed across six FFF and seven pens were visited at two FE. Animal-based welfare indicators were assessed on 21 pigs at PFF, 90 pigs at FFF and 18 pigs at FE. The study demonstrated that different production systems have different welfare problems. Based on resource-based indicators pig welfare was better ensured on FE, but based on animal-based indicators there was no clear difference in welfare between the three production systems. Based on these findings is it unlikely that the modernisation of current production systems in Croatia will significantly improve pig welfare. From a welfare point of view, neither the enlargement nor the termination of pig farms can be supported. However, the number of farms involved in this study was too small to allow for generalisation. The case-study does, however, point at the importance of further studies into the specific welfare problems of each of the production-systems and their different solutions. These studies should be of larger scale in order to get a representative picture of pig welfare in Croatia, and its assurance within the process of modernisation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-38
Number of pages301
JournalItalian Journal of Animal Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • animal-welfare
  • sows
  • performance
  • behavior
  • piglets
  • straw
  • emissions
  • ammonia
  • floor

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