ANIMAL, vol.8, no.12, pp.2058-2068, 2014 (SCI-Expanded)
The aim of this paper is to present an approach for an integrated evaluation of the sustainability of pig farming systems, taking into account the three classical pillars: economy, environment and society. Eight sustainability themes were considered: Animal Welfare (AW), Animal Health (AH), Breeding Programmes (BP), Environment (EN), Meat Safety (MS), Market Conformity (MC), Economy (EC) and Working Conditions (WC). A total of 37 primary indicators were identified and used for the evaluation of 15 much contrasted pig farming systems in five EU countries. The results show that the eight themes were not redundant and all contributed to the observed variation between systems. The tool was very robust for highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the systems along the eight themes that were considered. The number of primary indicators could be reduced from 37 to 18 with limited impact on the strengths/weaknesses profile of the individual systems. Integrating the eight theme evaluations into a single sustainability score is based on hypotheses or presumptions on the relative weights that should be given to the eight themes, which are very dependent on the context and on the purpose of the users of the tool. Therefore, the present paper does not have the ambition to provide a ready-for-use tool, rather to suggest an approach for the integrated evaluation of the sustainability of pig farming systems.