Sow Group Housing – Dine in or carry out

Sow Group Housing – Dine in or carry out

Have you ever eaten at a restaurant that had a limited food buffet for one reason or another? My guess is you probably have, and I would be bold enough to say that you felt anxious, stressed, frustrated and angry. While you have the freedom to roam that really didn’t impact how you felt emotionally. Sows can feel a similar anxiety; while they will leave their stalls to roam, proven if given a choice, a sow will often prefer to stay in her stall. Here are some reasons why.

In every pen of sows there is a social order of dominance. Submissive sows feel comfortable being within the protection of their own environment. In this case, the submissive sow would prefer to stay within the protection of her own personal stall.

If sows continually compete for food every day, then without a doubt the sow is experiencing a high level of stress. By remaining in the stall and being fed, this will give the sow the opportunity to release endorphins to the brain which provides a sense of stress relief.

Pigs are a herd animal; they have a natural prey mentality. We know this by the simple placement of the eyes on a sow’s head – a sow’s eyes are located on the side of their head which gives them the ability to identify a predator that could be lurking nearby.


You make the call

So, understanding the social behaviors of pigs helps us identify how we might be able to provide for them to meet their needs better. While the outside world might think that a sow having the opportunity to roam freely is best for them, it doesn’t necessarily mean that their needs are being met. Acknowledging that some sows do like to roam and enjoy being social, but they also appreciate privacy and security to feed, means we can work to create a new kind of environment that balances sow welfare and productivity.

Be safe and God Bless.

Boyd Rice
Territory Sales Manager – Swine


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