There are a growing number of experienced people who work with non-confined sows during farrowing and lactation, including those who manage outdoor systems and those who have adopted indoor free farrowing.
Standard operating procedures for free farrowing systems are difficult to provide as each system is different. However working in these systems for any length of time means developing routines and top tips to optimise free farrowing management.
There are a number of things to consider when managing free farrowing systems.
What to consider when managing free farrowing systems
- Stockperson Safety
- Time Management
- Human-Animal Relationship
How can free farrowing management be optimised?
Optimum system design
A well designed free farrowing pen with features that promote good maternal behaviour and also help the stockperson is important and information on this can be found on our specific pen features page and in research.
Staff training and attitude
Approach with an open-mind:
- Systems can be very different to conventional crates and trying to manage them as crates may slow progress.
- Sows will behave differently when unrestrained. But having a good human-animal relationship with the sow (including in the dry sow house) will benefit working routines, piglet and sow welfare.
View our top tips for managing loose-housed sows and their piglets.
What are the optimum building size and pen number per room?
There will be recommendations for building height and width in terms of ventilation, building regulations etc… However have you thought about how many pens you put in a room? This might be important for your farm staff and sow behaviour. Costs are important considerations and walls cost money, but by not thinking about the working routine and sow behaviour one big room might be a false economy.
- Too many pens per room could create a lot of disturbance for the sows
- One badly behaved sow in a room could affect other sows around her
- One badly behaved sow in a room can end up being the focus and affect staff morale
- Multiple rooms can allow staff to plan their working routine more efficiently
- Multiple rooms can lower the risk of disturbance spreading
Please get in touch if you have any questions about optimum building size and pen number. We can advise you and put you in touch with experts.