PPILOW scientific publications

1: Welfare issues and potential solutions for laying hens in free range and organic production systems: A review based on literature and interviews  – by Claire Bonnefous (INRAE)

In free-range and organic production systems, hens can make choices according to their needs and desires, which is in accordance with welfare definitions. Nonetheless, health and behavioural problems are also encountered in these systems. To identify welfare challenges observed in free range and organic production systems in the EU and the most promising solutions to overcome these challenges, we reviewed published literature and research projects, and we complemented this information by interviews with experts. In our recent publication in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science, we tackled the health problems and behaviour issues encountered in these systems, and especially those due to the provision of an outdoor range such as the increase the risk of infection, predation or feather pecking. We also summarized potential solutions such as management practices, free-range design, biosecurity measures, phytotherapy and the use of insect-derived products for example. In short, we provided information about the practices that have been tested or still need to be explored and this information can be used by practitioners, technicians and researchers to help evaluate the applicability of these solutions for welfare improvement in laying hens.

Welfare issues and potential solutions for laying hens in free range and organic production systems: A review based on literature and interviews. Bonnefous, A. Collin, L.A. Guilloteau, V. Guesdon, C. Filliat, S. Réhault-Godbert, T.B. Rodenburg, F.A.M. Tuyttens, L. Warin, S. Steenfeldt, L. Baldinger, M. Re, R. Ponzio, A. Zuliani, P. Venezia, M. Väre, P. Parrott, K. Walley, J.K. Niemi, C. Leterrier. (2022), Frontiers in Veterinary Science, 9/952922. https://doi.org/10.3389/fvets.2022.952922

2: Dual-Purpose poultry in Organic Egg production and Effects on Egg Quality Parameter- by Sanna Steenfeldt (AU)

Laying hens of different genotypes have been selected for generations for high yield and egg quality. Male chickens of egg-laying genotypes are therefore killed as day old. Due to the ethical dilemma and for better resource utilization, there is more focus on other genotypes, the dual-purpose breeds, where male chickens can be used for meat production. The purpose of the study was to evaluate potential dual-purpose genotypes for the quality of their eggs compared to an effective layer genotype. Two dual-purpose genotypes with divergent characteristics were evaluated: genotype A represented an experimental crossbreed based on a broiler type male and an egg layer female, and genotype C was a crossbreed of a layer type. These were compared to a rustic genotype B and a control genotype D, which was an egg layer. Eggs were collected from 21-54 weeks of age and a total of 990 eggs were analysed. Parameters for egg weight, proportions of shell, yolk and albumen, along with quality parameters were measured. The layer genotype D produced the smallest eggs with the lowest frequency of blood and meat stains, compared to eggs from the two dual-purpose genotypes. The shell quality was best for layer genotype D. However, genotype A laid eggs of comparable shell quality, dry matter content in the albumen and yolk weight, and with the darkest and most reddish-yellow yolk. Genotype C, the second dual-purpose genotype, as well as the rustic genotype B, produced eggs of low-medium quality. In conclusion, genotype A can serve as a dual-purpose genotype from an egg quality perspective and male chickens can be used for sustainable meat production.

Dual-Purpose poultry in Organic Egg production and Effects on Egg Quality Parameter Hammershøj, M., Kristiansen, G. H. and Steenfeldt, S. Foods 2021, 10, 897. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods10040897

All pictures © AU











3: Increase in organic product consumption is product-specific – by Jarkko Niemi (LUKE)

There are ambitious policy objectives to increase the market share of organic food in Europe. Currently the importance and market share of organic food varies by product and country. While organic crop production has increased and, in some countries, it already covers a substantial proportion of agricultural land, organic livestock production is lagging behind. Especially the market share of organic pork and poultry meat is still small in almost all European countries. In Finland, for example, the most popular organic livestock products are eggs, milk and beef, but only 0.4% of Finnish pork is organic and the share in chicken meat is even smaller. The most common reasons for consumers to purchase organic foods are their cleanness, taste, quality, and friendliness to the environment as well as desire to support small farmers and producers. Even though almost a fifth of consumers choose an organic product without considering its price, the price is still the main obstacle to buying organic products. Moreover, although people appreciate organic production and prefer it compared with non-organic production, the majority of consumers have a poor understanding of the methods of animal production. Hence, consumer communication and dialogue should be increased to clarify the benefits of organic production to the consumers. The small volume causes some challenges in the organic value chain. For example, small production batches result in elevated production cost per unit of output. Small number of organic farmers in a region may also limit the availability of high-quality support services such as veterinary or advisory services. Even though organic livestock production has several animal welfare benefits, there is still room for improvement. For example, the price and availability of organic protein feed, the use of outdoor range under different weather conditions, animal disease risks and the interpretation of regulations may pose challenges to organic farms. However, favourable farm conditions, ethical benefits and easy-to-use features of measures and responding to the consumer demand were seen as factors enabling animal welfare improvements. 

Increase in organic product consumption product-specific. Niemi, J. & Väre, M. 2022. Pages 82-86 in: Finnish agri-food sector outlook 2022. https://jukuri.luke.fi/handle/10024/552051

4: Prevalence of Swine Gastrointestinal Parasites in Two Free-Range Farms from Nord-West Region of Romania – by Vasile Cozma (USAMV)

The cost-effectiveness of raising pigs primarily depends on the health of the farmed animals. Swine diseases pose a significant economic problem throughout the world, with losses from parasitic diseases being substantial compared to those caused by bacterial and viral infections. Parasites precede bacterial and viral diseases, exacerbated by the deteriorating condition of pigs. Parasitic infections cause significant economic losses on swine farms by decreased production and reproduction, and also by augmented morbidity and mortality. The vast majority of swine in Romania, are raised on low input farms, the number of which has been registered as increasing in the last decades. Organic farming depends on the ecological factors focusing on environment protection, plant health, animal health, food safety, and consumer health. The free-range raising system is a type of farming where the animals, for at least part of the day, can roam freely outdoors rather than being confined in an enclosure for 24 h each day. The current study aimed at identifying the parasitic profile of swine raised on two free-range farms in Transylvania included in three age categories. Romania has a temperate-continental climate of transitional type, with four clearly defined seasons, therefore systematic sampling over a year would also allow the investigation of possible seasonal trends of the identified parasitic infections. The samples were collected from two free-range farms, both raising Mangalitza and Bazna local swine breeds. The farms were located in Nord-West Region of Romania, a hilly area defined by abundant pastures, forests and specific temperate-continental climate. Drinking water for the animals was provided from a local fresh water source. The shelters were periodically cleaned throughout the year. The animals had access to outdoor areas at all times. A total of 960 fecal samples from the two farms were collected and examined during the experiment. Collected samples were examined by centrifugal sedimentation, flotation—Willis method, fecal smear stained by modified Ziehl-Neelsen technique, Blagg method, McMaster egg counting technique, and fecal cultures. The coproparasitological examination revealed co-infections with several species of parasites, respectively, Eimeria spp., Balantidium coli, Ascaris suum, Trichuris suis, Oesophagostomum spp., Strongyloides ransomi and Cryptosporidium spp. This study provides essential information on Transylvania’s distribution of gastrointestinal parasites in pigs. It was demonstrated that different species of gastrointestinal parasites are present in most pigs reared in free-range farms in the study area. The current information has great value to farmers, policy makers, and researchers alike, that should contribute to safer and healthier pork production for public consumption. Specifically, control strategies are needed to raise awareness among pig farmers about the negative impact of these parasites on the productivity and health of pigs and, in some cases, on human health (certain pig parasites are zoonotic).

Coproparasitological examination: a- Eimeria spp. oocyst, b- Cryptosporidium spp. cyst, c- Oesophagostomum spp. egg, d- T. suis egg, e- A. suum egg, f- S. ransomi female and g-B.coli cyst






a.                                        b.                                     d.                                     f.  

Prevalence of Swine Gastrointestinal Parasites in Two Free-Range Farms from Nord-West Region of Romania. H. Băieş, Z. Boros, C. M. Gherman, M. Spînu, A. Mathe, S. Pataky, M. Lefkaditis and V. Cozma. Pathogens, 11(9), 954, August 2022. https://doi.org/10.3390/pathogens11090954








Local breeds of Mangalitza and Bazna pigs, in different seasons – © USAVM