This was the finding in the latest research published in the in the Universities Federation for Animal Welfare (UFAW) journal, which focussed specifically on animal welfare.
It said that while animal welfare is not compromised on larger farmers, there is room for improvement.
The study, responding to ‘criticism and concern’ for animal welfare amongst consumers and some politicians that so-called intensive farming methods are believed to compromise welfare and increase the potential for diseases to spread, found that none of the farm sizes looked at scored as ‘excellent’ in terms of animal welfare.
Researchers looked at the welfare level of 60 conventional fattening pig farms in Northern Germany with a range of 250 pigs to 11,000 pigs per farm.
The four principles of good feeding, good housing, good health and appropriate behaviour were measured.
Farm size was found not to affect the principle of good feeding, which scored the highest of all four principles. This was thought to be mainly due to the fact that only a very limited number of pigs had a poor body condition score.
Water supply was found to be insufficient on 16 of the farms, with poorly functioning drinkers found across all the farm sizes.
Farm size was also found not affect the principle of good health, although this was scored the lowest of the four principles.
One of the report’s authors, Dr Christian Lambertz says: “Our study did not show that farm size was a factor for the animals’ welfare, however, the high occurrence of bursitis and soiled animals, which are known to be affected by floor type and quality, underline the necessity of improving the quality of floors and of climate management.
"Simple adjustments in the management of space allowances and of water supply can also improve welfare.”