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What Are The Welfare Issues With Crates?

CrateThe farrowing crate predominantly raises welfare concerns for the sow, but there are also welfare issues for the piglets.

Piglet Welfare Issues

  • Increased risk of stillbirth - although crushing risk is reduced in farrowing crates, there is evidence of increased risk of stillbirth.
  • Increased risk of mis-mothering - there is evidence of increased incidences of savaging behaviour (particularly in primiparous sows)
  • Lack of enrichment opportunities - the crates are commonly built on fully or partially slatted floors which prevent provision of some enrichment materials

Sow Welfare Issues

  • Physical restriction - the crate limits the sow's movements and prevents her from turning around
  • Behavioural restriction via restraint - the crate prevents adequate expression of genetically programmed behaviours including mother-young interactions and nest-building behaviour
  • Behavioural restriction via inadequate provision of nest-building substrate as crates are commonly built on fully or partially slatted floors

Nest-building behaviour is one of the most important behaviours that an expectant sow needs to perform. Learn more about the importance of nest-building behaviour.

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