1. Animal Husbandry

Pig farming: An insight to details and laws of industry under animal husbandry

Dr. Sangeeta Soi
Dr. Sangeeta Soi

The place where the rearing of pigs takes place is called Intensive piggeries. They are generally large warehouse-like buildings or barns with little exposure to sunlight or the outdoors. Most pigs are formally entitled to less than one square meter of space each. Indoor pig systems allow many more pigs to be monitored than traditional methods, ensuring minimum fatalities, lowered cost, and increased productivity.

Buildings are ventilated and their temperature regulated. Most domestic pig varieties are susceptible to sunburn and heat stress and all pigs lack sweat glands and cannot cool themselves. Intensive piggeries control temperature through ventilation or drip water systems. Pigs have a limited tolerance to high temperatures and heat stress can lead to death. In order to maximize the growth and growth-to-feed ratio maintaining a more specific temperature within the pig-tolerance range is a good idea. Indoor piggeries have allowed pig farming to be undertaken in countries or areas with unsuitable climate or soil for out of doors pig raising. In these kinds of piggeries, pigs no longer need access to a wallow (mud), which is their natural cooling mechanism.

About Gestation crates

A gestation crate is a place called a small pen with a central cage where the pigs begin life, designed to allow the piglets to feed from their mother, the sow, along with it preventing her from moving around, crushing her children, and reducing aggression. The crates are so small that it doesn't allow their movement also. In pregnant stage, sows are moved to farrowing crates, with litter, and will spend their time in gestation crates from before farrowing until weaning. They are also injected with a high availability iron solution provided quite often, in order to provide iron milk. Lack of sunlight is compensated with Vitamin D supplements. Depending on economic viability, housing of animals in intensive systems vary, dry or open time for sows can sometimes be spent in indoor pens or outdoor pens or pastures.

Artificial insemination in pigs

Inspite of natural mating, artificial insemination is much more common. For more than two decades, In Western Europe, more than 90% of the sows have been bred by AI (Gerrits et al., 2005; Vyt, 2007). When compared with natural mating, AI is a very useful tool to introduce superior genes into sow herds, with a minimal risk of disease (Maes et al., 2008). Semen quality and the insemination procedure is the outcome of AI. Intracervical insemination using fresh diluted semen is in practice for intracervical insemination is most pigs. Boars on farms or specialised AI-centres are the place of semen collection.  As a result of this a diversity of breeds and genetic lines and distribute ready-to-use semen doses of constant quality to different sow herds.

Growing the young ones

While wild piglets stay with their mothers for around twelve to fourteen weeks, farmed piglets are weaned and removed from their mothers at between two and five weeks old. They are then placed in sheds, nursery barns or directly to grow out barns. An alternative indoor housing is used for Grower pigs which are usually housed in alternative indoor housing, such as batch pens. Group pens generally require higher stockmanship skills. Straw or other material will usually not be included. Alternatively, a straw-lined shed may house a larger group in age groups. Larger swine operations use slotted floors for waste removal, and deliver bulk feed into feeders in each pen; feed is available ad libitum.

A combination of grains and protein sources (soybeans, or meat and bone meal is provided as feed to pigs which are naturally omnivorous. In order to grow their food large farmlands are their around intensive pig farms where feed-grain crops are grown. Consequently, piggeries are reliant on the grains industry. Pig feed are available in packets, in bulk or mixed on-site. Each pig IS allotted a portion of feed, where pigs are confined in individual stalls. Facility of individual medication of pigs through feed is also applied. Diseases spread more rapidly due to the proximity to other animals, therefore it has more significance. Vitamins and antibiotics are administered preemptively.

Vitamins and antibiotics are administered preemptively in order to prevent disease spreading and encourage growth. Waste can be collected easily due to Indoor system. Other waste-management system or a lagoon system is used for waste-management system. Management of waste smell remains a tedious problem which is rather difficult to manage. Rather than this, pigs in the wild or on open farmland are naturally clean animals. While capable of living 10–12 years. Most pigs are slaughtered when they are 5–6 months old, inspite of the fact that they are capable of living 10–12 years,


The number of pig farm in U.K. is around 11,000. Approximately 1,400 of these units house more than 1,000 pigs and contain about 85% of the total UK pig population. Due to this reason, the vast majority of the pork products sold in the UK come from intensive farms. In the 1960s, there were around 50,000 pig farms in Australia. Today the situation is that there are less than 1,400, and yet the total number of pigs bred and slaughtered for food has increased. In year 2015, 49 farms housed 60% of the country’s total pig population.


Only 3 percent of UK pigs spend their entire lives outdoors. Laws to regulate treatment of intensively farmed pigs have been introduced by many countries. Retailers can label pork products as free-range without having to adhere to any standards or guidelines. However, there is no legal definition for free-range pigs.

EU legislation act for pigs

As of 2016, according to the European Union legislation act 2016, pigs should  be given environmental enrichment, specifically they must have permanent access to a sufficient quantity of material to enable proper investigation and manipulation activities.

The law provides that farmers must first take measures to improve the pigs’ conditions and tail docking must only be used in the condition when they have failed to prevent tail biting. Under the legislation tail docking could only be used as a last resort.

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