The Advantages of Gestation Crates
A great blog post: http://jentsfrontporch.blogspot.com/2011/01/gestation-crates-good.html
Something else to note: A European University compared individual farrowing crates (no room for sows to roam) with group farrowing (Sows had access to individual crates, but could also mingle with other sows and their piglets). Results: individually-kept piglets gained 9% more weight during the nursing period, same number of piglets weaned, sow lost more body condition in group housing, and a lot more injuries to the teats/udder of the sows in group housing - especially the young sows.
I have always been a supporter of individual crate housing for sows- both for the sow and the piglets. As a high school student, I delivered a number of litters from my jobs three sows. On occasions where we moved the sow early from her crate into a large pen (especially during January/ February farrows), I picked up at least one squashed piglet- sometimes up to three piglets per litter. I’ve also seen what has happened to sows that are group housed and cannot understand why people push for this in large settings. Illness is detected less, feed efficiency is not increased (and at times can be decreased based on sow personalities) and there seems to be an increase in wounds/ injuries due to females tendencies to be bullies around the feed bunks.
Each producer has the right to decide how they want to run their operation, but companies/ government mandating that certain production styles be put into place is ludicrous. Any idea what that does to the producer? How much money is costs a producer to adjust an entire housing operation? What the effects of these changes will have on market prices? It has been confirmed that Hormel will stop using gestation stalls my 2017- much to market dismay. This is, no doubt, in acted to keep the HSUS off their back.
It is sad when farmers no longer get to decide how they raise their own livestock. That we have to listen to people who have no conception of what is best for animals and even worse don’t want to see these animals exist as they do. There are days that I fear for our future.