• Good animal welfare makes economic sense: potential of pig abattoir meat inspection as a welfare surveillance tool

      Harley, Sarah; More, Simon J; Boyle, Laura; O'Connell, Niamh; Hanlon, Alison (Biomed Central, 2012-06-27)
      During abattoir meat inspection pig carcasses are partially or fully condemned upon detection of disease that poses a risk to public health or welfare conditions that cause animal suffering e.g. fractures. This incurs direct financial losses to producers and processors. Other health and welfare-related conditions may not result in condemnation but can necessitate ‘trimming’ of the carcass e.g. bruising, and result in financial losses to the processor. Since animal health is a component of animal welfare these represent a clear link between suboptimal pig welfare and financial losses to the pig industry. Meat inspection data can be used to inform herd health programmes, thereby reducing the risk of injury and disease and improving production efficiency. Furthermore, meat inspection has the potential to contribute to surveillance of animal welfare. Such data could contribute to reduced losses to producers and processors through lower rates of carcass condemnations, trimming and downgrading in conjunction with higher pig welfare standards on farm. Currently meat inspection data are under-utilised in the EU, even as a means of informing herd health programmes. This includes the island of Ireland but particularly the Republic. This review describes the current situation with regard to meat inspection regulation, method, data capture and utilisation across the EU, with special reference to the island of Ireland. It also describes the financial losses arising from poor animal welfare (and health) on farms. This review seeks to contribute to efforts to evaluate the role of meat inspection as a surveillance tool for animal welfare on-farm, using pigs as a case example.