One hot topic in the hog industry these days (and for a while now) is the use of gestation stalls, or individual maternity pens, versus group housing for pregnant sows.  Sows can be aggressive (hello, huge & pregnant!) and often try to bully each other out of food.  The individual gestation stalls make sure the animals get the right amount of food, and they keep the sows safe as well humans that work with the animals.  But, they’re small enough that they don’t allow the sow much room to move, which some people think isn’t a humane experience for the sow.  Thus, the popularity of group housing, where all the sows basically live together.  There are certainly benefits and downsides to each approach, and I’m thankful that most farmers have a choice of which sow housing method they want to use.

What is missing from many conversations, editorials and news articles about sow housing is a third option, that’s actually a really cool concept – a free access gestation stall, or Freedom Stall, which provides choice for the sows and the producers.

Our Freedom Stall recently had some glamour shots taken for marketing materials.

Stay tuned for more photos and information on this innovative solution in sow housing.

[If you’re interested in learning more about the first two types of sow housing I mentioned, here’s a couple of good posts: Agricultured / Mom at the Meat Counter.]