Practice-led innovations

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. These practice-led approaches respond to the demand for innovation to solve local problems using practical knowledge and creativity at the farm level.

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.

Through this project, we want to advise and support farmers on the management of livestock protection dogs to obtain the best possible results and avoid behavioral problems such as aggression towards people. The bond between the farmer and his / her dogs is key for the dogs to feel safe and carry out their work effectively. The involvement of the farmer with the education and care of the dogs is essential.

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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.infolocated 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 Conventional crates have been replaced by free-farrowing pens with temporary crating on slatted floors.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).

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