In order to assess the welfare implications of a site for outdoor pigs, the "five freedoms" should be considered. Because the management factors are so important, the physical characteristics alone are not sufficient to determine the suitability of the site. Each site should be individually assessed and judged on the following basis:
These conditions will most easily be provided on a light, free-draining soil in a low rainfall area. However, good management and stockmanship are essential to ensure that these criteria are met and that the welfare of the pigs is not at risk.
A dry area for the distribution of feed.
A dry, comfortable lying area in the huts.
The ability of pigs to move freely between huts, water and feeding area, without having to go into the waterlogged areas.
The ability of a stockman to be able to get feed, water and straw to the paddocks, to move pigs as required and carry out stockmanship tasks.
Absence of health problems attributable to the conditions of the site.
The Pig Welfare Advisory Group prepared, in 1993, a series of booklets about pig keeping which included Booklet 8, Outdoor Sows. All are available from MAFF Publications, London SE99 7TP (tel: 0645 556000).