Higher welfare alternatives
Higher welfare alternatives to intensive pig farming already exist and are commercially successful.
Free-range sow and piglets
In the UK, pregnant sows are kept in groups and are often provided with straw for bedding, rooting and chewing.
Around 40% of UK sows are kept free-range outdoors and farrow in huts on their range.
Higher welfare indoor systems
Pigs are kept in groups on solid floors with straw or other material for bedding and rooting.
Although there is no access to the outdoors, there is greater opportunity for natural behaviour, free movement within the pen orshed, less crowding, conflict, boredom and tail-biting. Deep bedded systems allow foraging and comfort.
Sows may still give birth in farrowing crates, but in the better systems they give birth in huts or pens.
Sows are kept free-range outdoors with huts for shelter and for having piglets. There are no sow stalls or farrowing crates. The huts are provided with straw. At weaning, the piglets are taken indoors and reared in extensive or intensive conditions.
In these systems, sows have a higher quality of life and are able to act naturally by building nests, rooting, wallowing and foraging. The piglets benefit from the free-range conditions until they are weaned.
Piglets are born outside (without stalls or crates) and spend around half of their lives outside.
Whilst there is no legal definition of ‘free-range pork’, a voluntary industry code in the UK requires that free-range pigs have permanent access to pasture: born outside (without stalls or crates) and then reared outside throughout their lives.
In the best free-range and organic pig farms, the sows and the growing pigs are kept outside for their entire lives.
The piglets stay with their mothers for longer (up to 6 to 8 weeks), mixing of unfamiliar pigs is reduced and tail-docking is not used.
Pigs spend their lives more like they would naturally.
Find out how you can help to end the suffering of intensively farmed pigs.