From Jan. 1 2013, sows will have to be kept in groups rather than in individual stalls during most of their pregnancy. Let us remmember the origin of them.
In 1807, an English hog farmer named Joseph Pattinson of Essex County, England, introduced a unique method of fattening hogs for the market. A General View of the Agriculture of the County of Essex, (1813), notes “he builds his styes in divisions, each to contain a pig, and to fit him as near as may be. He finds that they fatten far better in these styes than in common ones, and attributes it to their being much more quiet.”

Two centuries later, Pattinson’s method of individual housing has been creating quite a stir. Introduced into modern production in 1969, gestation crates are stalls in which breeding sows spend almost their entire adult lives. The system provides several benefits for producers, including lower space requirements, individual control of feeding, reduced social stress and a safer work environment for handlers. Resulting in lower costs for producers and improved physical safety for sows, this led to widespread expansion of the system in the 1980s and 90s. It is estimated that 83 percent of all breeding sows are now housed in gestation crates.

We will publish USDA´s report on sow individual housing on Friday 22nd.