Housing of sows during farrowing: a review on pen design, welfare and productivity

In: Livestock housing
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L. J. Pedersen
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J. Malmkvist
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H.M.L. Andersen
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Housing of sows during farrowing occurs mainly in farrowing crates where the sows are confined between bars without the possibility to turn around. The existing farrowing crates are associated with a number of negative welfare consequences for sows. Furthermore, breeding more piglets in the litter, combined with the fact that sows have generally become both longer and wider over the past 15 years, means that the size of the current crates is not large enough neither to accommodate the sow nor piglets until 4 weeks after birth. Therefore, alternatives to the current farrowing crate are necessary. Pens for loose housed sows are good alternatives for the sake of sow welfare. Review of the existing literature does not suggest that loose housing is associated with higher general piglet mortality than housing in farrowing crates. Knowledge from studies on behavioural needs of sow and piglet during farrowing and lactation is reviewed and used to make general recommendations on pen design. From this knowledge, prototypes of farrowing pens have been developed and are currently tested in smaller scale in production herds. Through this, more experience is being gathered on the pens' function in practice that contribute to having the first prototypes adapted and further developed so that they become an attractive alternative to the farrowing crate for the farmer both economically and with regard to animal welfare.

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Livestock housing

Modern management to ensure optimal health and welfare of farm animals

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