Organic Agriculture

, Volume 7, Issue 3, pp 267–279 | Cite as

Effect of six 100 % organic feeding strategies differing in external input demand on animal performance and production costs of piglets before and after weaning

  • L. Baldinger
  • R. Bussemas
  • K. Höinghaus
  • A. Renger
  • F. Weißmann


Organic agriculture aims at incorporating livestock as part of the farm ecosystem and therefore strives to minimize the use of external inputs. Minimizing external inputs is especially challenging in feeding of piglets, because the high-quality protein feeds needed to meet their demand are usually not available on farm or at least not in sufficient quantity. In an experiment, 1509 piglets were allocated to six different feeding strategies before and shortly after weaning at 49 days. Each feeding strategy was a combination of one out of three 100 % organic concentrates differing in external input demand (bought in protein-rich feeds) and one out of two forages (grass-clover silage and straw). The type of forage had no influence on piglets’ performance before and after weaning, but the type of concentrate had: the lowest quality concentrate with the lowest amount of external inputs led to the lowest daily weight gain, while the medium- and high-external input demand concentrates did not differ. The higher the proportion of external inputs, the better the concentrate conversion ratio but also the higher the price. Despite slower growth, the time and amount of concentrate needed to raise a 20-kg piglet were not influenced by dietary treatment and neither was piglet health. Therefore, the use of the cheapest concentrate with the lowest proportion of external inputs can be recommended for piglets with a 49-day suckling period and under generally good management conditions.


Organic farming Nutrition Piglet External input 



This experiment was a part of the ICOPP project (improved contribution of local feed to support 100 % organic feed supply to pigs and poultry, within the ERA-NET CORE Organic II program. Funding by the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture within the Federal program for organic farming and other sustainable forms of agriculture (BÖLN, grant no. 2811oe021) is greatly acknowledged. Also, we would like to thank the farm staff at the experimental station for their diligent work during the experiment.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Baldinger
    • 1
  • R. Bussemas
    • 1
  • K. Höinghaus
    • 1
  • A. Renger
    • 1
  • F. Weißmann
    • 1
  1. 1.Thuenen Institute of Organic FarmingWesterauGermany

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