Pros And Cons Of Group Housing In Sows, Beneficial And Negatives For Animal Welfare
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Group housing in sows, beneficial or detrimental for animal welfare?
At this time, individual housing is the most common way of sow housing in the commercial pig industry worldwide. Individual sow housing often consists of sows housed in stalls or crates for most of their reproductive life; during pregnancy, lactation and between weaning and oestrus. These systems are believed to offer an economic advantage and control of the individual animal aspects like feed intake, health and oestrus (Kemp and Soede, 2012). Individual housing, however, restricts sows and piglets from expressing natural behaviour, reduces animal production, causes sow injuries and results in stress at weaning (e.g. Kemp and Soede, 2012; KilBride et al., 2009). Public demand for more welfare-friendly pig husbandry systems has resulted in a ban on individual housing for pregnant sows and gilts during a period starting from 4 weeks after service to 1 week before the expected time of farrowing. (Van Nieuwamerongen et al., 2014; The European Commission Council Directive 91/630/EC). This paper will focus on the pros and cons of group housing sows on animal welfare and production, concluding that group housing is an improvement of pig welfare.
Effects of group housing sows:
Individual housing of sows contradicts the natural situation of feral pigs and swine. Under natural conditions pigs live in family groups consisting of several females and their offspring. When gestating, sows separate