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Industry Dynamics POSITION:HOME > NEWS > Industry Dynamics >
Loose house farrowing systems – where do we start?
Time: 2017/05/19 11:29:00 Author:admin Click: Second
From an animal welfare standpoint, much focus has been placed on assessing how the sow’s environment during farrowing can negatively or positively impact welfare for the sow.
This has been primarily focused on improving the ability for the sow to perform nest building (a complex set of behaviours driven by hormonal regulation and environmental feedback). To do this, the design of the farrowing crate has changed with greater freedom of movement provided by larger pens and substrate such as straw given to the sow prior to parturition.
Disadvantages for piglets and producers
But this solution for the sow comes with some disadvantages to the piglet and the producer.

A free farrowing crate by ACO Funki, at Siljebjerggaard Farm, Denmark. Photo: Danish Pig Research Centre
From the piglet standpoint, the greatest challenge with implementing loose house or modified crate farrowing systems deals with piglet mortality.
From the producer standpoint, loose housing systems are difficult to implement in already established barn infrastructure and dramatically change the available space needed for the same number of sows.
Implementing other solutions to improve pig welfare
So what other options can we implement to improve welfare in farrowing? From the sow perspective, much work is being conducted to provide a larger pen that is feasible for the sow and the producer.
The Danish Swine Research Centre (
SEGES) has recently announced the opening of their Farrowing Showroom. The research centre welcomes visitors to the showroom to observe and discuss 10 different farrowing pens currently being tested by the group.