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Higher welfare housing for sows

News Section Icon Published 14/01/2013

With the partial sow stall ban in place across the EU as of 1st January, 2013 and 14 countries remaining non-compliant, Compassion has published a technical leaflet that provides useful guidance on well managed and designed housing systems.

The technical booklet uses official terminology, referring to pregnant sows as 'dry' and sows that are yet to have a litter as 'gilts'. Indoor Housing Systems for Dry Sows - practical options draws on the four key legislative points of the new Council Directive 2008/120/EC stating that all holdings must comply with the following:

  • Part of the unobstructed floor area available to sows and gilts must be of continuous solid flooring
  • Sow stalls will be prohibited from four weeks after service to one week before the expected time of farrowing
  • Sows and gilts must have permanent access to manipulable material
  • In order to satisfy hunger, all dry pregnant sows and gilts must be provided with bulky or high fibre food


Compassion is delighted that more than 13 million sows are set to have their lives greatly improved by the implementation of this landmark EU legislation. However, given the number of non-compliant countries, we felt it would be valuable to offer practical support and guidance for those who remain non-compliant but need to move to higher welfare housing for sows.

Indoor Housing Systems for Dry Sows - practical options presents the elements required for good housing, focusing on space, flooring and bedding and managing aggression. In addition, the booklet offers measurements of yards and individual feeders.

In the UK, a complete ban on the use of sow stalls has been in place since 1999 and the EU legislation has applied to all newly built, rebuilt or newly commissioned buildings since 2003.

Compassion's Food Business team is delighted to report that many EU food retailers have pledged to source only from compliant countries. There are some leading EU food businesses who are making commitments well beyond legislative requirements for sows, by eliminating stalls from their housing systems altogether; and providing bedding and manipulable material throughout the sow's life.

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