The Beauty of Farrowing Crates

Getting a better understanding…

Here at the Western Illinois University, I’ve spent many days studying a lot of different plant species, types of soil, and weed classes. Though I have always had a passion toward agriculture I also enjoy working with animals. In my second semester of my freshman year I took Animal Science 112 with Dr. Hoge. That’s when I realized I had to add a minor degree to my education, which is Animal Science. To this day I still enjoy taking animal science classes and focus much of my time working with animals. People told me that they feel there is so much cruelty in livestock production. This has happened to me in face-to-face conversations but also I have seen a lot of these conversations on social media in places like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I feel like it is time for me to step up and explain some things to non-agriculture people. According to the American Farm Bureau 2% of the population understand the livestock industry. A big part of our population seems to feel that there is cruelty in the production of livestock. The use of farrowing crates often comes under scrutiny. So this blog will be about farrowing crates and how the use of these crates benefits swine and the people that raise them.

How it benefit sows…

            The beauty of farrowing crates is that it provides maternal boarding. Sows can become aggressive and possibly attack each other. These attacks can cause death or some serious injuries. When placed in open pens or pastures sows can become cannibalistic and eat another sow’s piglets and they will often fight for dominance. Farrowing crates will provide constant access to feed and water which increases their comfort level while giving them a stress free environment.

It will also benefit piglets too…

Photo Credit: Morgan Dahl 

            When its time for sows to have their babies the sows weigh around 350 to 600 pounds. When the baby pigs are born they can weigh around 3-5 pounds. The farrowing crates help to protect the piglets from getting stomped or laid on by the sows, which could cause death for the piglets. This is why the farrowing crates have angled, vertical bars so the sows can lie down and stand up without killing the piglets. The sows will lay down to rest and get up to eat. On average pigs will sleep twenty-one hours a day. The farrowing crates have space on both sides for piglets to rest or nurse.

 It’s not only about protecting sow/piglets but farmers too…

            When sows are ready to have their babies they can become aggressive so the famers need to protect themselves. The farrowing crates not only protect farmers, but it makes it easier for them to monitor the birthing process. The farrowing crates make it easier for the farmer to manually assist the sow if she has trouble or becomes distressed while birthing her babies. Sows often become lazy while farrowing and the farmer may have to get in the crate to make sure that the babies are safe after they’re born. Making sure that the sow is lactating is very important along with making sure she is eating and drinking.

Oh then there’s environment…

Photo Credit: Morgan Dahl 

            The farrowing crates would be inside so that protects the sows and the piglets from the environment. The floor helps the pigs stay dry and that will increase their chances of staying healthy and disease free. The farrowing crates are win-win situation because it provides a cooler area for the sows and warm areas on the side of the crates for the piglets. The crates usually have heat lamps on the side to provide warmth and a dry environment. The farrowing crates are designed to provide a protective environment and the health of the sows and the piglets. The farrowing crates have slotted floors that will allow all urine and feces to go through to the waste canal, which is located under the confinement, and then collected by the farmers and reused by applying the waste back to the field(s). The housing provided for swine is often ventilated with electric fans to assist in the circulation of fresh air and to ensure the internal climate is controlled during the hotter and colder months of the year for maximum comfort. A clean environment is crucial to the health of swine. Power washing the crates is a great way to keep them clean and ensuring the elimination of harmful pathogens or bacteria.

Ask Questions Before You Assume…

In my blog, I’m only focusing on farrowing crates. Every practice that we use in raising livestock has a reason and a purpose. In the swine industry everything comes down to timing, whether it’s breeding, farrowing or feeding. I encourage my readers to ask questions or do accurate research before you assume anything about livestock practices. Today with social media negativity and misinformation can spread quickly. Livestock professionals are usually very happy to answer any questions you have so ask away. If you wish to contact me please email me at this address: Think Ag! Think purple!


Written By:
My name is Jacob Bowen, and I am from Jacksonville, Illinois. Currently I am a senior at Western Illinois University. I’m majoring in Agricultural Science with an Animal Science minor. My family does not farm or own pigs, but I’m taking swine science class and I also help out at the farm. My hobbies include racing, working with animals, and traveling. I went to Australia for study abroad and will be going to Costa Rica in 2017.  I’m planning on continuing working and learning about animals. Thank you for reading my blog!


3 thoughts on “The Beauty of Farrowing Crates

  1. vanessamaye35

    Great blog, Jacob! You touched on some interesting facts about farrowing crates. I agree with your views on how important crates are in the swine industry. It can definitely be assumed that the mortality of young piglets is drastically reduced with the use of farrowing crates but there are still several producers, in a niche markets, that are required to farrow on the dirt. What are your thoughts in regards to these “specialized” markets where modern confinements and farrowing crates are not allowed?


  2. bellamaefrisk

    Excellent job on this blog, Jacob! I really enjoyed reading this because it answered some unclear questions I have always had about the swine industry. My farm background has been primarily row crops, horses, and cattle, so it was nice to be able to broaden my knowledge about the swine industry.


  3. Joe Breece

    Great write up on the benefits of farrowing crates Jacob! If you are not familiar with the safety of and process of breeding pigs this is a good insight for a what goes on in a little more in depth!


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