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Sow Stalls

Intensive pig farming has developped a lot in Europe during the last fifty years. As a result of this system of pig production, indoor housing has increased as well as the use of individual housing in so-called "sow stalls" for pregnant sows.

This leads to significant animal welfare concerns.

A serious harm to welfare of sows

To avoid the the high piglet mortality due to the high density of pigs, individual housing is used for the pregnant sows, in barren cages.  This aims to restrain the sow's movement and avoid it to trample on the piglets.

The bare stall prevents the sow from all natural movement and social interraction with other pigs. This leads to an increase of abnormal behaviour such as sham chewing and bar-biting.

The sow is put in the stall after insemination and stays inside until it cannot produce litter anymore. With this system, one sow can produce up to 24 piglets a year (two litter).

The ban

Considering the huge animal welfare concern created by this practice, in 1999 UK, Luxembourg and Sweden have prohibited the use of sow stalls.


In 2001, the EU started to plan the full ban of individual housing of sows and the use of sow stalls for 2013 within the Directive 2001/93/EC. The ban entered into force on January 1 2013.


Despite a twelve year enforcement period, enforcement of the sow stall ban has not been easy.

In January 2013, only 10 Member States were estimated in full compliance. In February, the EU Commission has started infringement procedures against Belgium, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Poland and Portugal.