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Clear answers to key questions

Experts from the Danish Trade Association of Agricultural & Food Industries provide documented facts on relevant issues in the areas of sustainability, animal welfare, quality and antibiotic resistance.


Despite their increasing production levels year on year since 1990, Danish agriculture has reduced the impact of total production on the environment and the climate.

This may sound unlikely, but it corresponds to reality. With their strong focus on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Danish farmers have achieved impressive results: Compared with 1990, the greenhouse gas emissions have been cut by a total of 20%, with production up 34%.

How sustainable a production is can be determined by means of environmental life cycle assessments or life-cycle analyses, which record all environmental impacts - a complex process that requires a high level of expertise. Only a few of the overall studies meet the high standards.

Climate protection
The Danish authorities, in collaboration with universities, have carefully examined a whole series of analyses of greenhouse gas emissions from livestock production and have concluded that, Greenhouse gas emission profiles of European livestock sectors' by J.P. Lesschen, M. van den Berg, H.J.Westhoek, H.P.Witzke and O. Oenema is currently considered as the study with the highest validity.

According to this study, the Danish production of pork and beef is one of the most climate-friendly in the world. For both types of meat, Denmark ranks second in Europe, just behind Sweden.

One of the reasons is the optimal use of the produced animals, which, in addition to meat, milk, leather and bioenergy, supply raw materials for pharmaceuticals.
Targeted advice has also proven itself in Denmark. In 2016/2017, the climate consultation of 600 Danish farmers reduced the CO2 emissions by 25 million kg. This roughly corresponds to the food waste by 120,000 Danes.

Incidentally, contrary to a widespread opinion, free-range farming does not have a positive meaning but has a negative impact on the sustainability of meat products.

Animal welfare

This is primarily about, but not limited only to the welfare of animals. In Danish pig production, comprehensive animal welfare has a higher significance because this produces strong and healthy animals.

For example, animal welfare in Danish pig production goes beyond what the EU requires. For example, Danish pigs are entitled to spray/shower systems to regulate body temperature as well as daily fresh natural rooting and employable materials.

Docking of tails
In order to prevent tail biting, Danish farmers comply not only with the applicable EU-Guidelines on space but also with the Danish additional requirements with regard to rooting and employment materials. If tail biting still occurs, the Danish pig industry - also in the sense of the animal welfare - considers tail docking as the best solution at present. The goal is the minimisation of tail docking and remains so.

Piglets’ mortality
In spite of the increasing productivity and litter sizes of their sows, the Danish Pig Farmers were able to reduce the mortality of piglets. According to InterPig , the Danish piglet mortality in 2015 was below the piglet mortality rates of the countries like Germany, the Netherlands, France or Sweden whose litter sizes are below that of Denmark.

Antibiotic resistance

To begin with: You cannot be infected with Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) by eating pork. And: MRSA-Infections can be treated with antibiotics, just not with the antibiotics against which MRSA-microbes are resistant.

Although the use of antibiotics in the production of farm animals can contribute to the formation of resistance in human pathogens, this is extremely rare, at least in Scandinavia. In other countries, for example, the usage of fluoroquinolones in the veterinary medicine has contributed to the development of resistant Salmonellae, but not in Scandinavia.

Increasing consumption of antibiotics in pig production?

In Danish pig production, the use of antibiotics has been halved over the last 20 years. In 2009, it was reduced by 27%.

Is there a connection between the antibiotics for pigs and MRSA?

In specific countries with high antibiotic consumption in the pig production (USA, Great Britain), there was no MRSA, whereas the resistant staphylococci are prevalent in many countries with low antibiotic usage.

What we know for sure: MRSA-bacteria spread among pigs, horses, calves, birds etc. through the trade with animals and contact with humans.