The Gestation Barn
Most pregnant (or gestating) pigs are housed in the gestation barn. Their pregnancy lasts for 3 months, 3 weeks, and 3 days (about 115 days). During this time, farmers work particularly hard to reduce the sows’ stress. This involves managing the sows in a way that minimizes fighting between them.
Today’s pig farms are designed to help farmers provide the best possible care for their animals. There is no one perfect housing system. In all systems, animal welfare and food safety are a top priority.
Individual maternity pens can be used to house sows during pregnancy, to reduce sows’ natural aggression that may result in serious injuries. The pens also help keep sows clean and healthy, and provide for individual feeding and care. However, this type of system somewhat limits the sows’ movement and ability to socialize.
Group maternity pens are another type of indoor housing system. They offer sows more freedom of movement and opportunities for social interaction, but do increase the risk of fighting.
Outdoor housing systems require more time and effort to manage, and are best suited to more temperate climates. Sows have the ability to move freely, but this leaves them exposed to the elements, as well as pests, parasites and predators. These risks can compromise the sows’ health, productivity and food safety.
Did you know?
Pigs are naturally playful and curious. Farmers try to enrich their lives by:
- Providing items for the pigs to chew and play with.
- Allowing pigs to interact with one another.
- Interacting with the pigs themselves.
- Playing music in the barn.
- Alternating the type of feed.