Sow Stalls: A Mother’s Worst Nightmare

 Sow Stalls: A Mother’s Worst Nightmare


Sow stalls (or gestation crates) confine female pigs for their adult lives in a space so small they cannot turn around. Following two or three years of intensive confinement, sows are trucked to slaughter.

Sows must live in a space barely larger than their bodies. The stall limits their movement to a couple of steps forward or back. Sows are selectively bred to produce ever larger litters and as a result, many sows no longer fit this tiny space (2′ x 7′). Many of the sows shown in this video are young and have just been put into the crates. As they grow, the amount of space afforded them will become smaller and smaller.

Sows must live on hard, cold concrete flooring. They are not provided nesting or rooting material, or other bedding. Over time, the hard surface and metal bars cause painful abrasions and sores from lying on the hard, damp surface. Lack of exercise often results in muscle atrophy, arthritis and lameness. Many sows cannot walk when they are removed for slaughter.

Concrete floors are slatted for the sow’s urine and feces to drop into a pit below. Many sows develop respiratory ailments from living above the toxic waste. Pneumonia is not uncommon.

More than 1.3 million sows are kept in Canada, with about 318,000 in Manitoba, and the vast majority are intensively confined in sow stalls.

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