Biennial survey: transition to group housing of sows

    Project Details


    Main research question/goal
    The objective of this project is to evaluate the transition from individual housing to group housing of sows and to share and exchange the gained knowledge so far. With the ultimate goal to improve sow welfare.  Since 1/1/2013 it is obliged by law to house pregnant sows in groups from 28 days after service until one week before farrowing. ILVO examines the technical functioning of the new system, and its effect on animal welfare (including health), labour and performances. With the results of this survey a strategy can be made to optimise the management with the new housing system.

    Research approach
    We survey a random and representative sample of 250 to 350 Flemish sow farmers who converted to group housing no later than 1 January 2013. The written questionnaire surveys the selected sow farmers in detail about the transition to group housing and their experiences with it. The answers on the survey are then compared with the results of the surveys performed biennially since 2003 with the same target audience. We search for typical difficulties with group housing sows and the solutions already found in practice.

    In Belgium, the conversion to group housing of sows was difficult and was done reluctantly. The uncertain future and the delay in making the transition (only one-third of the farms had converted in 2011) has resulted in a sector that is still learning about this management system that has been mandatory for 1.5 years already. We expect the results from this study to be useful and conducive to further optimisations, not only for sow farmers themselves, but also for other pig farmers, researchers, veterinarians, feed manufacturers, governments, etc. The results are reported in trade press.

    Funding provider(s)
    Hogeschool Gent
    ILVO - Instituut voor Landbouw-, Visserij- en voedingsonderzoek
    Effective start/end date1/01/0331/12/14