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Farm Animal Practice
Housing the breeding sow
  1. Sandra Edwards

    Sandra Edwards graduated in natural sciences from Cambridge University and obtained her PhD at Reading University. She subsequently joined the UK Agricultural Development and Advisory Service, specialising in the development of animal production systems which enhance animal welfare, while still being practical and economic at the farm level. She is currently senior pig specialist and head of the animal management and health department at SAC Aberdeen.


FROM 1 January 1999, the housing of pigs in stall or tether systems will be banned in the UK. This does not affect the use of stalls for temporary confinement during veterinary treatment or feeding, or the use of farrowing crates from seven days before predicted farrowing until weaning. However, it precludes any other housing of non-lactating sows in pens with an internal area of less than the square of the length of the pig, or with any side shorter than 75 per cent of this length. While it is still permissible to house dry sows individually in pens meeting these conditions, it is uneconomic to do so routinely in practice and all farms will consequently be obliged to adopt some form of group housing. Farms which are setting up new herds, or have still to change from individual housing systems, are faced with a wide array of alternative housing systems. There is no single ideal system, as location, farm system, standards of stockmanship, capital availability and personal preference will all influence the selection. Each individual case must therefore be carefully considered before making a commitment to the most appropriate longterm investment.

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