ClearFarm assesses animal welfare in pig farms

Researchers from Wageningen University, Autonomous University of Barcelona, Aarhus University and University of Murcia are applying non-invasive and currently available validated sensor technology for assessing and monitoring welfare in the pig production chain.

Based on literature and consultations with stakeholders, ClearFarm researchers selected a list of animal-based indicators for animal welfare, such as feeding behaviour, body weight and temperature, activity and some biomarkers present in saliva. These indicators are assessed over the life time of individual animals, rather than at group level and at one limited point in time.

Indicators will be tested through trials on commercial and experimental farms in Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands. Researchers will use sensors available on the market to collect data. In addition, they will collect information on the environment, such as ambient temperature, ammonia level and humidity.  

Data from sensor technologies will be integrated and via intelligent algorithms be used to identify, for example, changes that are likely to be indicative of welfare problems and less efficient production performance. The aim is to transform sensor data into welfare-relevant information, but simultaneously taking environmental impact and economic performance into account.

The animal welfare and environmental monitoring will cover all pork production stages, from breeding, rearing, fattening, transport and slaughter.