Acta Vet. Brno 2006, 75: 533-540

Influence of Porcine Housing Density on Species Diversity and Number of Airborne Microorganisms at Fattening Facilities

Ž. Pavičić1, T. Balenović2, H. Valpotić3, A. Tofant1, M. Popović4, M. Balenović5, K. Matković1, I. Valpotić4

1Department of Animal Hygiene, Environment and Ethology
2Department of Stockbreeding
3Department of Animal Nutrition
4Department of Biology, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Zagreb, Zagreb
5Croatian Veterinary Institute, Zagreb, Croatia

Received December 28, 2005
Accepted June 30, 2006

Microbiological composition of air, as a factor of ambient conditions in animal facilities can significantly influence performance, health and animal welfare in the swine production. The aim of this investigation was to determine, by monitoring primary microclimatic conditions, the possible association of the number of fattening pigs per unit of housing space with species diversity and number of airborne microorganisms. The research was conducted at a fattening and finishing facility of 450 m2 (equipped with 44 pens designed for 10 animals each) with low-pressure ventilation in three different trials. The first trial was conducted during the autumn-winter period with the capacity of 440 animals (0.7 m2 of pen area per fattening pig), the second trial was conducted during the winter-spring period with 356 animals (0.8 m2 of pen area per fattening pig), and the third trial was conducted during the spring-summer period with 312 animals (1.0 m2 of pen area per fattening pig). The air samples for isolation of fungi and mesophilic, haemolytic, and coliform bacteria were taken and microclimatic conditions were monitored during each trial at the same consecutive weekly periods. According to the data obtained from all trials, the total number of bacteria and fungi did not exceed 104 and 103 CFU per m3, respectively. The most numerous were gram-positive bacteria, followed by gram-negative bacteria and fungi. The total number of airborne microorganisms correlates significantly (at p < 0.05) with porcine housing density. These data may be useful for the assessment of housing density at fattening facilities that will not compromise swine health and welfare regarding the microbiological air quality, and thus may contribute to the implementation of optimal rearing conditions in large-scale animal producing units.