Confinement of breeding sows is one of the most controversial issues in livestock production (1). In the United States, the majority (~70%) of sows are housed in confinement facilities (1,2). The most common housing system for pregnant sows
Sows increase in size as parity and stage of gestation progress (2,4). Consequently, freedom of movement becomes more restricted as body length and width increases. A study done by McGlone et al. (2004) found that 95% of sows would need a stall with a width of 71.6 cm or greater to be fully contained within stalls. This means that common gestation stalls are not wide enough to allow sows to be contained within the width of the stall while laying down. Fewer than 40% of sows in conventional gestation stalls are contained without some body parts (legs, tail, etc.) protruding outside the bars or being compressed (2). Additionally, restriction of movement can cause biomechanical stress on sows and may contribute to
Long term confinement of sows during gestation restricts the
The Prairie Swine Centre in Saskatoon, SK is doing excellent work on pig welfare, particularly around stall to group housing conversion and environmental enrichment for sows, piglets, and weaners. Visit www.prairieswine.com to learn more.
- Karlen, G. A. M., Hemsworth, P. H., Gonyou, H. W.,
Fabrega, E., Strom, A. D., and Smits,
- J. 2007. The welfare of gestating sows in conventional stalls and large groups of deep litter. Appl. Anim. Behav. Sci. 105: 87-101.
- McGlone, J. J., Vines, B., Rudine, A. C., and DuBois, P. 2004. The physical size of gestating sows. J. Anim. Sci. 82: 2421-2427.
- Jansen, J., Kirkwood, R. N., Zanella, A. J., and Templeman, R. J. 2007. Influence of gestation housing on sow
behaviorand fertility. J Swine Health Prod. 15:132-136.
- Marchant, J. N., and Broom, D. M. 1996. Factors affecting posture-changing in loose-housed and confined gestating sows. Anim Sci. 63:477-485.
- Rhodes, R. T., Appleby, M. C., Chinn, K., Douglas, L., Firkins, L. D., Houpt, K. A., and Wills, R. W. 2005. A comprehensive review of housing for pregnant sows. 227:1580-1590.
- den Hartog, L. A., Backus, G. B. C., and Vermeer, H. M. 1993. Evaluation of housing systems for sows. J. Anim. Sci. 71: 1339-1344.