Why do farmers use individual stalls for mother pigs?
Sows (and piglets) are kept in “farrowing crates”. This allows the farmer to monitor how much each sow is eating and ensure proper nutrition while nursing her litter. The crates also protect the piglets from being accidentally injured or crushed by their mother.
Raising animals is a balancing act!
There are benefits and drawbacks to both individual stalls for pigs and group housing (where pigs all live together).
Pigs live in social hierarchies, which means that some sows dominate others and can become aggressive. This can result in some pigs being bullied, and/or getting injured. At the same time, pigs are curious, social animals and like the ability to move around and explore.
Farmers realize that it’s important for pigs to be in an environment where they can behave in natural ways. However, they also understand that the social stress of keeping pigs in groups can cause injuries because some sows are dominant and can be aggressive. On-going research into pig housing will continue to guide farmers as they raise their animals by balancing natural behavior with animal welfare.