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Institute of

OF Organic Farming


Environmental and welfare aspects of pig outdoor runs

Lead Institute OL Institute of Organic Farming
Involved Institutes AT Institute of Agricultural Technology

Effects of roofing percentage and straw litter amount of an outdoor run on emissions and presence frequency in the outdoor run exemplified by growing pigs

Organic livestock production shall promote animal welfare and environmental compatibility. To this effect, pig outdoor runs exemplarily demonstrate a still unresolved contradiction.

Background and Objective

Outdoor runs in organic animal husbandry are mandatory. Full roofing is not allowed due to the assumption that the open access to the external climate promotes animal welfare. But the outdoor run will also be used as an urination and defecation area which promotes emissions. They are enhanced by temperature, precipitation and solar radiation also, and just because of missing or only partial roofing.

The project aims to develop a pig outdoor run management which reduces emissions without significant impairment of animal welfare.


In collaboration with the Thünen-Institute of Agricultural Technology, the effects of varying roofing percentages (0% vs. 100%) and amounts of litter straw (more vs. less than 0.5kg straw per pig & day) on emissions and presence frequency of the pigs in the outdoor run are investigated.

Data and Methods

The experiment is realised on the eco-certified research farm of the Thünen-Institute of Organic Farming. Emissions are measured in the outdoor runs of four barns - each with ten fattening pigs - twice per week over a period of about two months within the grower period. Gaseous emissions are measured via a mobile chamber of 1 m2 with an integrated multigas-detector based on photo-acoustic spectroscopy within the whole outdoor run. For liquid N-emission measuring, samples of (i) off-flow from the joint drain of two adjacent outdoor runs and of (ii) manure of the grid of the mobile chamber get taken parallel to gaseous emission measurements for chemical analyses. Furthermore, the outdoor run presence of the pigs (referred to the measurement grid) is documented by video.


The project is still running.

At the moment, there is an adaption of the ambitious measurement technology for N-emissions and of the video technology to the specific on-site conditions in Trenthorst.

In 2014, a bachelor thesis serves as pre-trial to test various planar grids in the outdoor run for the detection of liquid and gaseous N-emissions.


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    Mielke G, Bussemas R, Clauß M, Linke S, Georg H (2015) Der Auslauf in der ökologischen Schweinemast: Punktuelle Messung von Ammoniakemissionen mit einer dynamischen Haube. In: 12. Tagung: Bau, Technik und Umwelt 2015 in der landwirtschaftlichen Nutztierhaltung. Münster: KTBL-Schriften-Vertrieb im Landwirtschaftsverl, pp 329-334

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    Mielke G, Bussemas R, Clauß M, Linke S, Weißmann F, Georg H (2015) Der Auslauf in der ökologischen Schweinemast: Verschmutzungsverteilung und Ammoniakemissionen. In: Häring AM, Hörning B, Hoffmann-Bahnsen R, Luley H (eds) Beiträge zur 13. Wissenschaftstagung Ökologischer Landbau "Am Mut hängt der Erfolg: Rückblicke und Ausblicke auf die ökologische Landbewirtschaftung". pp 512-515

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