SmartResilience: towards a sustainable, future-oriented pig production system that supports and predicts resilience and welfare in pigs

Last changed: 25 October 2023

Current pig production systems seem to come at a cost of the animals’ resilience and are subject to societal concerns. Therefore, a system change is inevitable. Recent work indicates that housing systems that support the execution of important natural behaviours may improve resilience of pigs as a whole. This project aims, firstly, to contribute to the viability and implementation of a novel pig production system that meets the behavioural needs of pigs and is expected to enhance welfare and resilience. Key-features of this system are group housing of lactating sows and their piglets, a later weaning age and an enriched environment. In addition, the project intends to develop smart sensing technology and biomarkers to measure and predict (loss of) resilience and health and behavioural problems in pigs. Resilience of pigs kept in the novel system will be compared to that of pigs kept under commercial conditions and the underlying key components of improved resilience will be mapped. Finally, the project will analyse the extent to which the novel pig production system addresses societal demands. Collectively, the project should result in an innovative system that improves pig resilience and pig welfare, that provides the pig industry with smart sensing tools to prevent problems and that allows for the production of pork meat in a sustainable way that is accepted by society.


The project is funded by: EU/Breed4Food

Duration of the project: 2018-…

Project Leader: Dr. ir. J.E. Bolhuis, WUR (Wageningen University)

Other contributors: Dr. F.L.B. (Franck) Meijboom, UU (Utrecht University), Prof. dr. ir. T.B. (Bas) Rodenburg, UU,  Dr. (DVM, MSc, PhD) Oleksiy Guzhva SLU (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences), Lisette van der Zande, WUR/UU – PhD student.