Animal welfare

Through this Production Chain, OPAS has set itself the objective of being able to offer the final consumer a controlled food product from the birth stage. This is in order to safeguard the aspects inherent to animal welfare and the correct and responsible use of medicine used in pig farming.

The Animal Welfare production chain follows the animals in all the processes of birth, growth, feed, transport and slaughtering, guaranteeing that the animals won’t be hungry nor thirsty. In addition, it ensures that the animals live in comfortable environments, don’t feel any pain, fear or excessive stress.

The animal welfare represents a topical issue of great importance in the agri-food sector. Over the years, the interest has grown not only as regards to topics such as food safety and quality, but also as regards to the environmental impact and the conditions of rearing, transport and slaughtering of animals.

The protection of the animal welfare is carried out complying with the awareness of the respect of the five freedoms (Farm Animal Welfare Council- FAWC), that is:

  • Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition, with ready access to fresh and clean water and adequate diet to maintain perfect health and vigour;

  • Freedom from discomfort, by providing an appropriate environment for the species, with adequate shelter and comfortable resting areas;

  • Freedom from pain, injuries and disease, by prevention and rapid diagnosis and treatment;

  • Freedom to express normal behaviours, by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and social contacts with animals of the same species.

  • Freedom from fear and distress, by guaranteeing the life conditions and the treatments to avoid mental suffering.

OPAS, sensitive to this issue, has long since developed, together with its stakeholders, specific parameters and requirements as regards animal welfare.

Aimed at maintaining and continuously improving animal welfare, an important role is played by the continual raising of awareness and training of all the staff involved in the management of the operational guidelines inherent to the phases of the life cycle.

The distinguishing characteristic is to include only those pigs of Italian origin that are born, reared in Italy and slaughtered at the OPAS plant. These pigs may or may not belong to the P.D.O. Parma and San Daniele ham circuit. If they belong to the mentioned P.D.O., the pigs are fed with raw materials and feed that comply with and are established in the specification of S. Daniele and Parma Ham Consortium or with GMO FREE food.


  • Animal welfare: “The state of an animal as regards to its attempts to cope with the environment”

  • Biosafety: high hygiene and health standards aimed at protecting the livestock from infections that may come from the external environment and, at the same time, checking the spread of illnesses in the very same company

  • Medicine: Any substance or combination of substances presented as having properties for treating or preventing disease in animals or any substance or combination of substances that may be used on the animal or administered to the animal in order to restore, correct or modify physiological functions by exerting a pharmacological, immunological or metabolic action, or to make a medical diagnosis (art.1 Legislative D. 193/2006)

  • Correct and responsible use of the medicine : The antibiotic shall be chosen according to the sensitivity of the target bacterial species, only administered to animals with current infectious illnesses or at real risk of developing it, therefore their use on the asymptomatic animals shall be carefully assessed in case of proven needs.


Meat products object of the certificate are all those meat cuts that are commercialized with the origin certificate of OPAS controlled production chain “Animal Welfare and responsible use of medicine on the livestock”.


Everybody, suppliers (farmers) and sub-suppliers (feed manufacturers), by signing OPAS technical specifications for OPAS “Animal Welfare and responsible use of medicine on the livestock” Controlled Production Chain, accept the content, complies with the requirements and officially adhere to the above mentioned production chain, thus directly becoming the person responsible at their own plants.

The partners commit themselves, each one according to their own skills, to follow the several provisions reported in the technical production specifications. OPAS “Animal Welfare and responsible use of the medicine on the livestock” controlled production chain products are only manufactured at the sites properly designated and controlled by Opas.



Considering that all the breeding farms shall be subject to the compliance with the legislation in force, OPAS has decided to distinguish itself by imposing regulations that may be stricter than the very same legislation in force on the farmers involved in the supply chain. In fact, it is necessary to guarantee that all the participants of the supply chain are properly trained in the specific procedure.


A significant element that has to be fulfilled for maintaining a good sanitary level is the high biosecurity and hygiene standard inside and outside the company. To this purpose, the point to take into consideration is the adoption of all the strategies to protect the breeding farm and therefore the pigs from the infections that come from the outside and, at the same time, to control the circulation of pathogens that are in the very same facility. It is necessary to guarantee that all the players of the production chain are adequately trained as regards to the specific procedure.


The use of antimicrobial medicines remain, for the veterinarian, a fundamental element for the care and welfare of the animals. However, their use shall not be independent from the context concerning the phenomena of resistance, cause of reduction in the effectiveness of medicines. This necessarily avoids the abuse of them and leads to their responsible use. To support this aspect, an intense training activity is carried out for all the staff members involved in the breeding farms.


The farmers are trained in the correct management of the procedures and of good management practices in the breeding farms. The carriers are provided with authorization/certificates required by the reference legislation. In addition, they are trained by the Manager of the Animal Welfare Protection as regards to the important aspects of the management of pigs, from the loading at the breading farm, transport up to the unloading, through specific operative instruction.

The production chain breeding farms’ managers are in charge of checking the compliance with the legislative requirements and of the procedures and/or specifications of the animal welfare at the breeding farm.

The Animal Welfare Protection manager has the task of verifying the compliance with the legislative requirements and procedures and/or company specifications about animal welfare. The staff members of the concerned organizations, who may influence OPAS “Animal Welfare and responsible use of the medicine on the livestock” Controlled Production Chain, are adequately trained, made aware and involved in order to guarantee a correct implementation of the very same production chain.  The staff members are aware of the importance of their own function and of the consequences of their behaviour.



The pigs of the production chain, on arrival, are provided with the following documents:

  • Declaration of animal origin that reports possible health treatments carried out over the last 90 days

  • Information on food chain

  • Supplementary Sanitary Attestation


As regards to the laboratory controls carried out on the feed department, OPAS follows the self-monitoring plan implemented by the feed manufacturers specifically for the feed production delivered to the breeding farms of OPAS controlled production chain.


The traceability is guaranteed in all the phases of the process, in particular:

  • The animals moved for the passage to rearing/fattening phases following to weaning, are properly identified with batch and lettering “Animal Welfare and responsible use of the medicine on the breeding of Opas Supply Chain” in the pertinent documents.

  • The animals destined to slaughtering are specifically identified with batch and lettering “Animal Welfare and responsible use of the medicine on the breeding of Opas Production Chain” in the pertinent documents.

  • In all the stages towards slaughtering, from an operator to another one right after, meat is identified with batch and lettering “Animal Welfare and responsible use of the medicine on the breeding”.

  • The external certifying body Kiwa guarantees the coherence and the implementation of OPAS Animal Welfare supply chain.