Sow Stalls - Explained
Traditionally, in the EU, a breeding sow has been kept in a stall throughout her 16½-week pregnancy. These stalls are narrow, so narrow in fact that a sow cannot turn around, with her movement restricted to just a few basic steps forward or backwards. For an animal that scientific research shows to be highly active, being confined to a life in a stall is severely limiting, curtailing such natural behaviours as rooting, foraging and exploring.*
- As well as restricting a sow’s movement, the environment that she is kept in while confined in a stall is generally barren and empty.
- Lying on slats or a concrete floor for months on end, there is little for her to do, the result of which can be bar biting, where a sow will chew on the metal bars in front of her, simply through frustration, boredom or hunger.
- Additionally in a stall she will also be unable to defecate in a separate area to her lying space and she will not be able to control her temperature significantly by following natural behaviours such as to wallow to cool down or huddle together with other pigs or use bedding to keep warm.
- Sows in stalls usually have no access to any form of substrate such as straw bedding which is important for physical and thermal comfort.
Campaigning for an end to sow stalls
Warning: film contains images of animal suffering
At Compassion in World Farming we believe a sow should not have to spend her life imprisoned in a stall. Thankfully, in 2001 the EU followed the example of the UK, Sweden and Luxembourg in agreeing a ban on the sow stall, but with an exemption for the period up till four weeks into a sow’s pregnancy.
While we believe that that the first four weeks exception should be removed from the legislation, i.e. sow stalls should be banned throughout the pregnancy, it is vitally important for millions of sows across the EU that this legislation is properly enforced across all 27 member states. The ban on the sow stall came in to force on 1 January 2013. Project Pig is Compassion’s campaign that focuses on putting pressure on nations to comply on time and in full.
* Research suggests that in natural conditions, 75% of a pig’s day is spent undertaking just such exploratory activity.