Performance, labour and economic aspects of different farrowing systems


  • Elisabeth Quendler Dr. DI MSc
  • Podiwinsky Christiane DI
  • Baumgartner Johannes Dr.
  • Winckler Christoph Prof. Dr.


Pig farming is undergoing significant changes. Animal welfare is gaining importance in our society and the long-term future of the pork industry depends upon production methods being accepted by consumers and retailers alike. Farmers have to find economically viable systems as an alternative to farrowing crates that must also be competitive. There are several different farrowing systems available on the Austrian market today. They can be roughly divided into two categories: pens and farrowing crates allowing various degrees of freedom of movement and nest building of sows and litters.

The eight systems studied differed in design, space allowance, door opening and closing devices; as well as wall, feeder, crate and creep area design. These differences created variations in performance, work time requirements and gross margin. The number of piglets weaned per litter and sow (from 8.87 to 9.73 piglets) differed significantly among the systems investigated. The system related differences in average piglet weight at weaning time were as high as 4.7%. The system related labour requirements (not including work time requirements for management) ranged from 4.2 to 6.0 hours annually per sow. Labour requirement times varied up to 42.7%. According to these differences, the outputs and gross margins were lower for free farrowing pens than for farrowing crate systems. The system-related differences in gross margins annually per sow were as high as 29.3%, the highest variations were found between sows kept in sow pens and those in farrowing crates. Among the different farrowing crates, system related gross margin differences per sow and year were less than 8%.

Author Biography

Elisabeth Quendler, Dr. DI MSc

University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences, Department of Sustainable Agricultural Systems, Division of Agricultural Engineering






V-Management, Ergonomics and Systems Engineering