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Lead(Collaborating)Institution

DAFM Award

DAFM National Call 2011 11 S 107 Teagasc (QUB, UCD, CAFRE) 376,672

Project Title:

Development of ante and post mortem meat inspection of pigs as a welfare diagnostic tool.

Project Coordinator:

Dr. Laura Boyle

Project Abstract

During ante and post mortem meat inspections (MI) pig carcasses are partially or fully condemned upon detection of lesions that pose a risk to human health or because of severe welfare problems (e.g. fracture). Based on data provided by one pigmeat factory this conservatively equates to financial losses to the Irish pig industry of approximately €6.2m p.a. Boyle et al. (2011) revealed that abscesses are responsible for over 50% of such carcass losses. Abscesses and other reasons for carcass losses (e.g. loin bruises) are closely linked to on-farm welfare problems for pigs. This represents a clear link between poor animal welfare and financial losses to the pig industry as well as a threat to food safety. MI findings, though greatly under-utilised in the EU, can be used to inform herd health plans. By extending such inspections to include welfare related conditions they could act as a valuable diagnostic tool for animal welfare thereby contributing to reduced financial losses as well as to higher pig welfare standards and safer pigmeat for consumers. This project aims to develop MI as an animal welfare diagnostic tool. Teagasc, UCD and Queens will collaborate on a 36mth program of farm and factory based research employing 1 contract researcher and 2 postgraduates to 1) validate on-line MI as a pig welfare diagnostic tool; 2) determine relationship between welfare problems detected at MI and disease and carcass condemnations; 3) establish protocols for extending on-line MI to include welfare indicators; 4) establish cost/benefit of this strategy and 5) implement and disseminate findings.

Final Report:

11 S 107 Final Report (pdf 259Kb)