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Can We Keep Piglets Safe Without Crates?

Producer Concerns

Producers have valid concerns about piglet survival. Modern sows range in weight with some of the hyper-prolific breeds reaching 300+kg. They give birth to multiple piglets weighing, on average 1-2kg each. Piglets are vulnerable when they are first born. They can suffer easily from chilling if they do not get to the udder and drink colostrum quickly. If the sow does not control her posture changes carefully she is at risk of crushing her piglets.

How do we Keep Piglets Safe Without Restraining the Sow?

There are successful systems in operation that have demonstrated the same production figures as farrowing crate systems. Successful systems consider design details that promote good maternal behaviour and features that can protect the piglets without restraining the sow. Included in those features can be those that allow staff to provide good management to maximise piglet survival.

Maternal Behaviour Adj2Promote Good Maternal Behaviour

Sows that are calm, displaying careful posture changes and allowing safe access to the udder are good mothers.

  • Provide design features that stimulate good maternal behaviour - to learn about this visit our Research pages on Design Criteria and our Specific Pen Features pages for best practices recommendations for providing these criteria.
  • Select for good maternal behaviour - there is evidence that maternal behaviour traits are heritable. To learn more visit our Research pages.
  • Develop good human-animal relationships - the stockperson can influence maternal behaviour. Visit our Free Farrowing Husbandry pages for best practice recommendations.

Piglet Protection Features

There are piglet protection features that can promote piglet survival without restraining the sow.

  • Consider adopting a free farrowing system that provides features that protect the piglet and allow the stockperson to perform best practice protocols for maximising piglet survival. To learn about the different options and their key features visit our Farrowing Systems pages.
  • Install piglet protection features. For recommendations on this visit our Piglet Protection page.

Contact Us

For further information feel free to get in touch.

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