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The UK is ahead of most other pig producing countries in that an estimated 40% of breeding sows in the UK are kept outdoors and farrow freely. Of the 60% of sows kept in indoor group housed systems the majority will use farrowing crates, of which there are many different designs. I believe the aim should be for farrowing crates not to be necessary. It is important that we make progress towards a system which both safeguards the welfare of the sow as well as the piglets and also works commercially, and that we do so as quickly as possible so that crates can be consigned to history.
A new statutory welfare code for pigs was laid in Parliament on 9 September 2019 and includes guidance on farrowing to protect the welfare of both sows and piglets. The code will come into force shortly.