FAWEC works with farmers to develop practical, welfare friendly and sustainable methods of keeping farmed animals. Practice-driven innovations have been successfully undergone on commercial farms through the creation of multi-actor networks where farmers had a high level of engagement.


The livestock guardian dog: the best friend of livestock in extensive systems


Livestock guardian dogs are considered the most effective method of protecting livestock from attacks by large wild  carnivores

and also owned and feral dogs.

Livestock guardian dogs are mainly used to protect sheep, goats and poultry, but they can also work with any other type of

livestock, including, for example, cows or horses. These dogs live with the herd or flock, protecting it from anything they

perceive as a threat.

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Alpacas as guardians of free range hens at Mas Castanyer


Mas Castanyer (www.mascastanyer.cat), an organic farm of 1300 hens located at La Garrotxa Volcanic Zone Natural Park, 

decided to fight against constant attacks from predators to their hens with an innovative and sustainable method: 

introducing two young male alpacas to the range.

This practice-led innovation has been part of the Hennovation EU project (www.hennovation.eu).

Ecogarrotxa and AlpacaTrax also collaborated with this project. 

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New housing system for the farrowing sows at Mas Vilallonga


 The Rubirola brothers decided to undertake huge structural changes in the farrowing unit of Mas Vilallonga (www.gerfamrubirola.info)

located at Riudellots de la Selva to improve the welfare of their sows. Conventional crates have been replaced by free-farrowing pens with

temporary crating on slatted floors. Mas Vilallonga innovation has been possible thanks to the high motivation and engagement of several

stakeholders of the pig sector: Rotecna, L’Ekip, Jyden, Agrener and FAWEC (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona).

This change represents a big challenge for the catalan producers in terms of management of sows and piglets around farrowing as those

types of systems have never been implemented on commercial building. Several concerns are still unknown and will be explored through

this innovation in Mas Vilallonga:

  • How do breeds such as the Duroc breed adapt to more space and free farrowing?
  • Where and how do the sows and piglets rest and interact in thermal stress conditions?

And many more questions to discover in the new farrowing building at Mas Vilallonga.



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Farm Animal Welfare Education Centre
Dr. Xavier Manteca Vilanova
Dra. Eva Mainau Brunsó
Dra. Déborah Temple

Tel: +34 93 581 1647 | +34 93 581 1352
Fax: +34 93 581 14 94
email: info@fawec.org


Farm Animal Welfare Education Centre
Departament de Ciència Animal i dels Aliments, VO-135 Edifici V - Campus UAB -
08193 Bellaterra (Barcelona - Spain) 


 Servicio de Nutrición y Bienestar Animal (SNIBA)  Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

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