Following extensive work by researchers at University of Bristol, University of Newcastle and RSPCA over several years, the AHDB Pork Real Welfare scheme was launched as a requirement of Red Tractor Farm Assurance on 1st April 2013. Real Welfare involves on-farm assessment of pig welfare using a set of five objective and repeatable measures. These measures are known as ‘welfare outcomes’ which are animal-based, meaning that they are obtained from the animals themselves, rather than from their environment. Real Welfare was developed in response to the pig industry’s need for strong, science-based evidence to demonstrate its husbandry standards to retailers, animal welfare lobby groups, policy makers and consumers. Real Welfare is also used to collect information on other variables, such as feeding practices, pen variables, and whether tails are docked or undocked.
Real Welfare assessments are carried out by veterinary surgeons who are members of the Pig Veterinary Society. Real Welfare assessments take place 2 – 4 times a year, depending on how the farm operates. Real Welfare outcomes are reported back to the producers as a rolling total, combining all assessments from the previous 365 days. This means Real Welfare reports on the general welfare status and welfare management of finisher pigs on farm and means that variation between batches through disease or extreme weather, is evened out. Real Welfare also allows farmers to benchmark their welfare outcomes against other farms, as well as against their peers.
AHDB Pork manages the anonymised data set amalgamated across all units, which enables us to monitor welfare outcomes across the whole industry. Your veterinary surgeon is able to access your unit’s Real Welfare results and should discuss these with you.
Abyssinian Guinea Pig: Care and Characteristics
The Abyssinian guinea pig is a popular and exotic brand of guinea pig that originates from the Andean region of South America. Contrary to popular belief, the Abyssinian guinea pig did not originate from the Abyssinia region of Africa, which covers northern Ethiopia and Eritrea. Abyssinian guinea pigs are considered to be among the oldest breeds of guinea pigs still in existence today. This particular type of guinea pig, the Abyssinian was marketed originally as coming from the Abyssinia region of Africa on ships that were apart of the guinea slave trade. The male Abyssinian guinea pig, known as a ‘boar’, can successfully mate with the female at around three weeks of age.
The average lifespan of an Abyssinian guinea pig is very similar to other breeds of guinea pigs. How long the Abyssinian guinea pig lives depend on a lot of outside factors. The most important aspect of an Abyssinian guinea pig’s health is its’ intake of daily vitamins like Vitamin C. If they don’t have enough of it in their daily diet, the Abyssinian will run the risk of contracting scurvy or other diseases. A study in 2010 conducted by David Williams and Ann Sullivan had concluded that the Abyssinian guinea pigs were at higher risk for eye problems than other breeds of guinea pigs.
Abyssinian guinea pigs are known for being very rambunctious, energetic, and more spirited than other breeds. If you’re looking for a pet that’s fun, playful, and independent, the Abyssinian guinea pig may be perfect for you and your family. With unique physical characteristics and a life span that has longevity, the Abyssinian is a strong and healthy breed of guinea pig that any pet owner would appreciate and enjoy.
Guinea Pig Weight Guide
Your guinea pig’s weight is one of the most important indicators of its health and wellbeing. As such it is very important that you track and monitor your pets’ weight over time, to see if they are developing normally, and so that you can spot any unusual changes early and act quickly. The following guide describes what is considered to be a ‘normal’ guinea pig weight at various ages, and also describes how to measure it. As your guinea pigs grow and mature, you should be able to see their size and weight increasing gradually and consistently. As they reach adulthood, this weight gain will begin to decline, and eventually stop at somewhere around 12 to 14 months old.
During this time you may notice that males gain more weight than females. If your pet fidgets and moves around a lot, it can often be a good idea to place them in a bowl or tin during the weighing – just remember to subtract the weight of the bowl or you’ll get inaccurate readings. Monitoring your guinea pigs’ weight is absolutely essential. Any sudden changes or prolonged decline in the weight of your pet are an excellent indicator that something is wrong, and so it is wise to get into the habit of measuring and recording your animals’ weight on a weekly basis. A spreadsheet is ideal because it also allows you to plot a graph, which is an even easier way to spot weight changes and trends.
Be sure to take your weight record with you as well, as this could provide the vet with useful information to help make a diagnosis. One thing to be aware of is that a pregnant sow can get significantly heavier during the gestation period, and it is not uncommon for her weight to go up to as much as double its usual level.