Pregnant Sow Housing

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Pregnant sows are kept in a variety of housing systems. Sow housing and management systems should:

  • Provide every animal access to appropriate food and water;
  • Promote good air quality and allow proper sanitation;
  • Protect sows from environmental extremes;
  • Reduce exposure to hazards that result in injuries, pain, or disease;
  • Facilitate the observation of individual sows to assess their welfare;
  • Allow sows to express normal patterns of behavior.

There are advantages and disadvantages to any sow housing system. Appropriate training is required for any management system to accommodate the welfare of the sow. Gestation stall systems may minimize aggression and injury, reduce competition, and allow individual feeding and nutritional management, assisting in control of body condition. Stall systems restrict normal behavioral expression. Group housing systems are less restrictive but allow aggressive and competitive behaviors that could be detrimental to individual sows. Genetics and breed selection could promote good sow welfare by matching animals to the appropriate housing system. To address animal welfare in the long term, advantages of current housing systems should be retained while making improvements in design to overcome problems identified.

The AVMA encourages research into housing systems for pregnant sows that improve their welfare.

Literature Reviews:

Welfare Implications of Gestation Sow Housing (PDF)

Additional Resources:

A Comprehensive Review of Housing for Pregnant Sows (PDF)

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