The majority of sows reared in indoor, commercial pig production farms farrow their piglets in crates. Farrowing crates were originally introduced to reduce the risk of sows crushing their piglets, by limiting the sow’s movement, particularly as they lie down.
However farrowing crates raise serious animal welfare concerns, as they limit the most basic behaviours of the sow: inability to turn around, walk, nest build or form a good maternal bond with their new-borns. In addition, there is an increased risk of piglets being born dead or attacked by their mothers (especially for first-time mothers), and piglet behaviour is severely restricted due to the barren environment.
In contrast to this, free farrowing systems offer more space, flooring is part solid/part slatted and is covered with nesting material. Our higher welfare systems commit to the use of free farrowing systems and one of our Italian partners (Fumagalli), at the forefront of the Italian pig sector, have been working hard to implement free farrowing. In 2015 they gained a Good Sow Commendation, going onto gain a Good Pig Award (the very first in Italy) in 2016 from Compassion in World Farming.
This work has been part of a larger project working with Waitrose, as part of their continuous commitment to higher welfare standards. To read the case study in full, click here to download.