Pros And Cons Of Sow Housing

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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
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However, within group housing there are many variations which can affect sows differently. A review by Kemp and Soede (2012) enumerates six types of group housing as an impression of group housing variability. Van der Peet-Schwering et al. (2003) and Backus et al. (1997) studied differences between a number of these group housing systems. The first study compared the electronic sow feeding (ESF) system with free access stalls and found a higher number of sows returning to oestrus in ESF. The study by Backus et al. (1997) found that ESF sows had more skin and claw lesion than other group systems (free access and trickle feeding). This shows that group housing types differ in impact on sows but a clear comparison of all types has yet to be

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