Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/15/2006
Publication Date: 1/12/2009
Citation: Marchant Forde, J.N., Pajor, E.A. 2009. Welfare of Gestating Sows. In: Marchant-Forde, J.N., editor. The Welfare of Pigs. Dordrecht, The Netherlands:Springer Science + Business Media B.V. p. 95-140.
Technical Abstract: The welfare of sows during gestation continues to be a controversial topic, with both close confinement systems, such as stalls, and loose-housing, group-based systems both having welfare advantages and disadvantages. Within the European Union, legislation has already been enacted that prohibits the keeping of sows in stalls over the whole of gestation. However, over the rest of the world, the debate continues, with proponents of stalls stating that in this type of system, sows are protected from aggression from other sows. The biggest difficulty with assessing the scientific evidence for sows kept in groups or stalls, is that there is a wide disparity of group systems in use. This chapter attempts to catalogue the different aspects of a housing system, such as group size, feed delivery system, bedding etc., and then discuss the pluses and minuses of each aspect in isolation. There is focus given to the two major, often-conflicting welfare concerns of restriction of movement and protection from aggression, with the scientific evidence reviewed in each instance. We conclude that there is no perfect housing system design that currently meets all welfare concerns, but with attention to detail in the day-to-day husbandry, many of the different systems in use can safeguard the welfare of at least the vast majority of animals housed within them.