Pigs (England): Code of Recommendations for the Welfare of Livestock: Pigs (PB7950)

Section 2 - Specific recommendations

Dry sows and gilts

The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2003 (S.I. 2003 No. 299), Schedule 6, Part IV, paragraphs 36 to 42 state:
  1. Sows and gilts shall be kept in groups except during the period between seven days before the predicted day of farrowing and the day on which the weaning of piglets (including any piglets fostered) is complete.
  2. The pen where the group is kept must have sides greater than 2.8 m in length, except where there are less than 6 individuals in the group, when the sides of the pen must be no less than 2.4 m in length.
  3. The total unobstructed floor area available to each gilt after service and to each sow when gilts and/or sows are kept in groups must be at least 1.64 m2 and 2.25 m2 respectively. When these animals are kept in groups of less than 6 individuals the unobstructed floor area must be increased by 10%. When these animals are kept in groups of 40 or more individuals the unobstructed floor area may be decreased by 10%.
  4. For gilts after service and pregnant sows a part of the area required in paragraph 38 equal to at least 0.95 m2 per gilt and 1.3 m2 per sow must be of continuous solid floor of which a maximum of 15% is reserved for drainage openings.
  5. Sows and gilts kept on holdings of fewer than 10 sows may be kept individually provided that their accommodation complies with the requirements of paragraphs 6 and 7 of Part II of this Schedule [see the box above paragraph 47].
  6. In addition to the requirements of paragraph 14 of Part II of this Schedule [see the box above paragraph 67], sows and gilts must be fed using a system which ensures that each individual can obtain sufficient food even when competitors for the food are present.
  7. All dry pregnant sows and gilts must be given a sufficient quantity of bulky or high fibre food as well as high energy food to satisfy their hunger and need to chew.
102. Innate aggressiveness can present a severe problem where sows and gilts are kept in groups. Much depends on the temperament of individual animals. Adequate space is particularly important at the time of mixing sows so that animals can escape from aggressors. First parity sows and sows that have lost body condition should be managed as separate groups. Stock-keepers should ensure that persistent bullying, which could lead to severe injury or deprivation of food, does not take place. You should remove any animal suffering persistent bullying to different accommodation.
103. Feeding facilities in which animals can be fed individually and thereafter released are recommended. However, if you feed sows using a system that does not include some form of protection during feeding, such as floor feeding, then you must distribute the feed widely and in such a way to ensure that all members of the group can obtain their allocation.
104. Breeding sows and gilts should be fed simultaneously wherever possible to avoid undue excitement. Some feeding systems have been designed to feed animals sequentially without interference from pen-mates. You need to pay special attention to the proper functioning of such equipment and also make sure that all members of the group can obtain their allocation.
105. The provision of bedding in loose housing systems for sows and gilts is strongly recommended.
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