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No starvation of sows

Natural pig farming respects the sows natural appetite

Natural pig farming believes that feeding the sow well with appropriate feed throughout her life is important in sow and piglet health and welfare. We make sure that our pigs are well fed. and believe it is fundamentally wrong to deprive any living animal the food it needs in the quantities it needs. We refuse to countenance it.

Our sows are fed quantities that ensure the sow is not hungry (see How to section on feed). To achieve this aim we provide bulk to their feed in the form of high fiber fresh greens and vegetables. This provides good stomach fill whilst minimizing excess weight gain.

Our beliefs are contrary to that of the pig industry as a whole which has an overwhelming focus on severely restricting the amount of feed a pig eats on a daily basis to the final half gram. They drastically restrict the amount of feed a sow eats and this results in high levels of sow hunger. Our sows are more filled out than the factory farm norm, because the factory farm norm is wrong. Sows are not supposed to be possess thin ‘supermodel’ figures. It is an abuse of nature. It’s totally cruel, and is totally unnecessary. Providing feed rich in bulk is the answer to ensure sows do not experience hunger. They can eat fully whilst not becoming overweight. And good animal husbandry and pen environment is the answer to achieving high live piglet yields.

The science behind sow feed is now clearly showing the natural pig farming approach is right. Ensuring sows are well fed throughout gestation and lactation and through to the next mating increases the size of litters, the average weight per piglet, and the survival rate of piglets.

Factory farms systematically starve their sows

To maximize the number of live piglets born and ensure short farrowing times, the factory farm model of pig raising believe sows should be thin. Unnaturally thin, given that today?s pigs have been bred to have healthy appetites and to be highly motivated to eat. To achieve this unnaturally light weight the sows are fed severely reduced rations. Whereas a gilt (a female pig that hasn?t been raised for breeding) is normally fed between 3 - 3.5 kg of feed a day, a sow is fed 2.0 -2.8 kg or less. The result? The sow is in almost constant state of hunger. And its not just me saying that.

5.2.11 69 in the EU Scientific Vetinary Committee?s report ? The Welfare of Intensively Kept Pigs 1997? concludes that ?the food provided for dry sows is usually much less than that which sows would choose to consume? and that 'the animals are hungry throughout much of their lives'.

The extent of the hunger is demonstrated by an experiment conducted by Hudson 1989. This study showed that sows were prepared to use more energy pressing a food release panel to be given food than they obtained from food. This is contrary to normal scientific expectation and clearly shows that sows are suffering extreme hunger and are in desperate want of food.

This hunger is compounded by the type of feed being fed to the sow and how it is often fed. The dry processed pig feed given lacks the bulk needed to achieve stomach fill. Therefore not only is the sow feed less than it would normally choose to eat, it is fed the type of feed that cannot provide the stomach fill needed to alleviate its hunger. This is a deplorable state of affairs that is currently not even on the political agenda to change. Factory farms also increasingly ignore the fact that it is in a pig?s natural behavior is to feed twice a day, once in the early morning and once in the late afternoon / early evening. Many factory farms use an ad libum feed allowance system (where pigs are given a set amount of food that can be accessed at any time through automated feeders). This often results in the hungry sows eating all of their allowance for feed in one go, normally in the morning and then spend the rest of the day hungry until the next days feeding.

In the USA, the starvation diet feeding of the sow is exacerbated by the use of laxatives in sow feed. This prevents the sow getting the full nutritional benefit of what she has eaten.

To see how you can help change this deplorable situation click here: Fight for pig welfare

Natural pig farming v factory farming