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Farmed pigs are raised to produce piglets or to produce meat. Female pigs are raised for breeding and are housed in different systems to pigs raised for their meat. Female pigs raised to breed are called sows and are kept in sow stalls when pregnant and then in farrowing crates when giving birth and then nursing their piglets.
Sow stalls provide no type of bedding, such as straw, for the comfort of the pig. She stands constantly on bare concrete or slatted flooring, which often leads to lameness and injury. Sow stalls are typically 0.7 m wide, which prevents the sow from turning around or lying down comfortably. Sows are confined to an individual stall, which denies social interaction and leads to stereotypical behaviours such as bar-biting and repetitive, compulsive movements.
Conditions for fattening pigs, are typically overcrowded and lacking in mental and physical stimulation for the animals. Fewer that half the fattening pigs in New Zealand are provided with straw. Often they are kept in dim light. They, also, stand on bare concrete or slatted floors, which prevents and stifles their natural urge to root in the earth. The piglets are usually taken from their mothers at 4 weeks old. In natural circumstances, weaning would happen gradually after 3-4 months of age.
Due to overcrowding and an environment devoid of any stimulation, pigs tend to bite each otherís tails. To control this abnormal behaviour, their tails are cut off or 'docked'. In the New Zealand, piglets are castrated at a few weeks old, usually with a knife or scalpel and no anesthetic.