gestation crate free

A gestation crate is a metal stall where sows (pregnant pigs) are kept throughout their pregnancies. These crates are a mere 7 feet long by 2 feet wide (14 square feet).

While pigs raised for meat are housed in open pens, industry practice has been to confine sows in gestation crates for their entire lives. At Greenfield Natural Meat Co., we challenged ourselves to do better and have invested in research and significant barn redesign to convert all our sows to open sow housing, and are proud to announce that we are now Gestation Crate Free!


The different types of sow housing

conventional sow housing

The majority of the industry applies this conventional system for their breeding practices.

In conventional sow housing, a sow:

  • Cannot turn around, exercise or socialize with each other
  • Has limited interaction with caregivers
  • Is more prone to injury due to lack of movement
  • Spends their entire lifetime in confinement

loose sow

A small percentage of the industry has adopted a system that allows sows more movement during pregnancy. *Sows remain in stalls, but with the back gate removed, so they have the option to back out of their individual stalls to socialize. However, animal behaviour often limits the sow’s willingness to take advantage of this option and they often remain in their individual stalls.

In loose sow housing, a sow:

  • Has limited opportunity to exercise or socialize with each other
  • Is still housed in stalls during their nursing & breeding stages for safety of the animals and caregivers
  • Spends 45% of their lifetime in confinement

crate free

Also referred to as Advanced Open Sow Housing, our Greenfield approach significantly reduces the time a sow spends in breeding stalls and provides 100% open housing during pregnancy. The sows are free to roam, feed and socialize with the other animals.

In advanced open sow housing, a sow:

  • Is free to explore their surroundings, have social interactions with each other and their caregivers
  • Has improved wellbeing, leg and joint health and reduced aggressive behaviour
  • Is fed through electronic sow feeding system that ensures optimal nutrition for each individual animal
  • Spends only 20% of their entire lifetime in confinement, only during the breeding and nursing stages for the safety of the animals and caregivers