Summer-winter behavioural comparisons of allowing the farrowing and lactating sow greater freedom


Freedom of movement and freedom to express normal behaviour are fundamental principles underlying most welfare guidelines (e.g. Brambell, 1965). The restrictive nature of the farrowing crate and its potential to limit the repertoire of species specific behaviours may influence the welfare of the sow (Higginson, 1985). The objective of this study was to examine sow behaviour in different farrowing systems and specifically to investigate the behavioural component of improved winter production results in a less restrictive farrowing pen system (Rudd et al., Paper 18, 1993 BSAP Winter Meeting).Three farrowing systems in neighbouring rooms were compared. Two systems allowed the sows to move freely, i) five strawed pens (2.5m x 1.5m) with farrowing rail (Pen), and ii) five crates modified to allow the sows to walk through (Free Crate). Sows had access via a passageway to a transponder-controlled feeder and a North facing (shaded) outside area with two water drinkers. Piglets were contained in their home Pen or Free Crate area by a small barrier (30cm high).