In Austria there are just a little less than 54,000 pig breeding farms with a total of about 3.1 million pigs. Every year, about 5 million pigs are fattened. This quantity produces just a little less than 470,000 tons of pork, almost 2% of the total pig breeding production in the EU. Even so, pig breeding accounts for approximately 12.5% of agricultural produce in Austria (about 675 million euros).
Quality is what counts
Maintaining excellent quality is the main concern of Austrian pig breeders. This is why quality parameters such as pH-values, the colour of the meat, the water content and the intra-muscular fat content have played a role since the eighties.
The best from each breed
Pig breeding in Austria means cross-breeding, combining the positive characteristics of three breeds - pedigree pig, country breed and Pietrain. The female lines (pedigree pig or pedigree pig x country breed) guarantee high fertility, vitality and excellent pork quality. Cross-breeding with the Petrain male line produces porkers (F1), which are not only economically viable for the breeder, but also produce the desired meat quality for processors and consumers.
A high health standard - The basis of Austrian pig breeding
Austria is known worldwide for the high health standard of its livestock. Thus, within the framework of what is known as the "Animal Health Services", the health, hygienic and economic conditions in many important areas of pig breeding are continually improved. This effort has been duly recognised by the EU, which has confirmed that this sector has the highest standards of veterinary hygiene. Regular inspections guarantee the high quality standard that consumers rely on.
Pig fattening predominantly in the lowlands and hilly country of Austria
Approximately 90% of pigs are fattened in the provinces of Upper Austria, Lower Austria and Styria. The climatic conditions in these areas favour maize, which forms the basic diet for pig production. Recently, traditional feed such as barley and rye have been gaining in importance, a development producers of bacon have also come to appreciate. Domestic alternatives such as pea feed, canola and field beans have been increasingly replacing soya. The use of chemical and antibiotic performance enhancers is strictly taboo for Austrian farmers.
Producer co-operatives benefit farmers and consumers
In order to supply the market with the high quality it demands, almost one-third of all pig farmers have become members of producer co-operatives. As members they accept requirements with regard to feeding, keeping and transporting animals that are even more rigid than the already existing strict laws.
Firmly in the hands of the farmers
Legal provisions in Austria guarantee that a statutory acreage of farmland is available for every animal of a breeding farm. This assures breeding which is both environmentally sound and orientated towards a natural cycle. And it also explains why pig breeding in Austria is still firmly in the hands of farm owners.