SPCA supports a move towards a farrowing system that protects the welfare of both the sow and the piglets.
SPCA opposes the use of farrowing crates, including temporary crating systems.
The use of farrowing crates causes significant animal welfare problems for both sow and piglets. For piglets, their use is associated with stillbirth, poorer maternal attention, and a lack of enrichment and sow-piglet interaction. For sows, the crate restricts the expression of almost all normal behaviour, including nesting behaviour, and is associated with health problems such as pressure sores and lameness. Prolonged confinement has a negative impact on the mental wellbeing of sows.
To reduce piglet mortality, all farrowing and lactating sows should have access to abundant nesting material and must be provided with farrowing accommodation with enough space for separate lying/nesting, dunging and feeding areas.
SPCA considers that pig breeding companies should breed sows that have good mothering abilities and stop breeding to achieve increasingly large litters.
(See ‘Selective Breeding and Genetic Technologies’ for more information)