The effects of farrowing system design on welfare of sows and piglets of different genotypes


Although often described as “welfare-friendly”, the greater freedom of movement and choice of environments offered by communal farrowing systems does have potential welfare risks, primarily for the piglets. The maternal qualities of the sow will have a greater influence on the survival and growth of piglets in this communal farrowing system, than in a conventional farrowing crate and may be influenced by genotype. The objectives of this study were to compare the welfare of sows and piglets housed in farrowing crates and a communal farrowing system and to investigate whether sow genotype influences the quantity and quality of maternal behaviour and subsequent litter performance.