I have been receiving your emails since Iowa Pork Congress this winter and enjoy many of your comments.
I feel I must let you know about the sorry state of our own pig industry, following legislation changes some time ago the sow stall and sow tether were banned as methods of holding sows.
Since 1996 I have been involved in US pig production where the sow stall is the most common form of sow accommodation, I have not seen one case a vice known as vulva biting which as a male I would imagine has to be painful.
During the last few weeks I have worked in a couple of UK farms where the sows are housed in "welfare approved" straw based, group housing [six per group] not confined in any way and allowed to interact with their pen mates. In a study using pure percentages 60% of vulvas were bitten or torn a common method for sows to bully others. In group of six all feed together it is not uncommon to find 4 equal sized, one monster and one poor small bullied sow [I wonder who gets all the cake]
On the same farm fattening pigs are reared in straw based finishing pens, cleaned religiously daily and fresh straw bedding given, compared to most fully slatted US finishing systems the pigs are filthy, the rat a disease ridden species at best loves the atmosphere especially during winter, its warm, food is plentiful how long before the next Black Plague.
Please do not let your own industry go down this welfare friendly, low profit [oh yes and disgusting to work in] route.
John J. Williams