Five Freedoms Key for Sow Housing Systems23 September 2013
CANADA - The director of veterinary services with the Progressive Group of Companies suggests the use of gestation stalls for housing pregnant sows offers both advantages and disadvantages, according to Bruce Cochrane.
As part of a proposed updated Code of Practice for the care and handling of pigs in Canada, the National Farm Animal Care Council is proposing the elimination of gestation stalls for housing pregnant sows by 2024.
Dr Tony Nikkel, the director of veterinary services with the Progressive Group of Companies observes, when you consider the five freedoms, gestation stalls offer the advantage in terms of providing freedom from Hunger and Thirst, Freedom from Fear and Distress and Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease where as loose housing offers the advantage in terms of freedom to Express Normal Behavior.
Tony Nikkel-the Progressive Group of Companies
We've got to remember the history of these gestation stalls is pig producers were concerned about the safety, and the amount of fighting that was exhibited among sows penned together.
To try to improve their welfare they segregated those animals to try to eliminate a lot of the fighting that was going on to try to better their welfare.
That's kind of where these gestation stalls came from.
Pigs inherently are herd animals.
They have a very definitive hierarchy that they need to establish when they're in groups and so a dominant sow needs to be established within a short period of time in any group.
They'll fight their way to the top and the dominant sow will emerge.
The role of these other sows will be beaten up quite badly in this whole process until that hierarchy is established.
That's why these stalls were originally designed was to eliminate a lot of that type fighting and injury that results from it.
Dr Nikkel says the choice of which system offers better overall animal welfare is by no means definitive so it should be left up to pork producers to make their own decisions.
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