Pork producers are committed to making sure their animals are treated humanely. Not only is that the right thing to do, but anything less would be self-defeating. Consumers also are concerned about the treatment of swine during production and desire accurate information on pork production. The Pork Checkoff understands producers’ and consumers’ interest in the important topic of animal welfare and strives to provide resources that help producers utilize the best, accepted swine care practices and help consumers recognize that pork producers are committed to responsible swine care.

The Pork Checkoff’s Animal Welfare Committee directs the organization’s efforts on this subject. The committee realizes that as the U.S. pork industry becomes a key player in domestic and foreign markets, the treatment of our swine may come under increased scrutiny by all our customers. The Pork Checkoff also works to monitor and correct misinformation from animal rights groups. The organization funds research and education in several priority areas, including further development of a method to assess the well-being of their animals on the farm, stress measurement, segregated early weaning, animal handling and transportation, sow housing, on-farm euthanasia, and animal space requirements.

The Pork Checkoff works to develop guidelines for producers to follow that will create a standard of excellence in care for the pork industry and encourages efforts to inform and educate the public about how they humanely raise swine. Follow these links for more details on commonly used swine care practices.

Sow Housing

There are many different housing designs used in today’s U.S. pork industry that provide for the well-being of the gestating sow. These housing designs usually fit in one of two categories:

  • Individual housing which includes the individual stall system.  In this system, sows are housed in a structure large enough for one sow to stand up and lie down. There are several variations in stall designs.
  • Group housing which includes free access stalls, trickle feeding, electronic sow feeding stations and deep bedded systems to name a few of the many different variations in group housing systems in use.  Group sizes may range from five sows per pen up to more than 100 sows per pen.

Each housing design has unique advantages and disadvantages for the well-being of the sow.  There are many factors that contribute to the success of a particular type of housing system but none more so than the caretaker’s husbandry skills.

Animal Health Update – Preventing Broken Needles

The National Pork Board partnered with National Hog Farmer on a special Animal Health Update focused on preventing broken needles in the administration of medicine to pigs. The webinar offers insight into why proper medical care is important to raising healthy pigs. However, the administration of injectable medicine into a large, mobile animal comes with the potential risk of a broken needle. This webinar addresses this topic to prevent a broken needle from occurring on the farm.

Whether it’s focusing on better injection techniques or simply adhering to the letter of Pork Quality Assurance® Plus management practices, this webinar includes comments from Laura Bachmeier, National Pork Board director of Pork Safety. She provides a brief overview of Pork Checkoff-funded research and the importance of safely administering injectable medicine for the benefits of people and pigs. Steven Hoff, Iowa State University professor of Ag and Biosystems Engineering, discusses how producers can use the right needle size, strength and sharpness and how broken needles can be detected at packing plants. Emily Erickson, New Fashion Pork, brings the practical, on-farm aspect of proper needle/injection management to this webinar. Erickson trains employees in the best practices of injection methods and broken-needle prevention protocols.

Protecting people by providing safe pork is a top priority of the Pork Checkoff. View the full 60-minute webinar.


Sow Housing How-To Guides

These booklets are available in English and Spanish and provide guidance and considerations for the six most common housing designs for gestating sows.
Download     Order Printed Version

2003 Swine Care Handbook

This handbook provides producers with scientifically based guidelines for maintaining and improving the welfare of their animals. Includes information about the pork producers code of practice, husbandry systems, management practices, environmental management, facilities and equipment, feeding and nutrition, and herd health management.
Complete Document

On-Farm Euthanasia Guidelines

Because it is usually impossible or impractical for the veterinarian to be available for all euthanasia on-farm, producers themselves often need to perform humane euthanasia of pigs. On-Farm Euthanasia of Swine, Recommendations for the Producer, developed in cooperation with the American Association of Swine Veterinarians, offers guidelines and considerations.
Complete Document      Spanish Document

Animal Well-Being Fact Sheets

Pain Management

Complete Document

Timely Euthanasia: Well-being and Financial Implications

Complete Document

Captive Bolt Considerations when Humanely Euthanizing Pigs

Complete Document

Animal Ethics

This paper is a discussion of the role of ethics in animal agriculture. It discusses production trends and ways producers can respond to these changes and advancements.
Complete Document

Animal Welfare Position Statement

The National Pork Board continues to support sound science as the only basis for animal welfare guideline decision-making. This fact sheet gives background information on evaluating animal welfare on the farm, and the National Pork Board’s position statement on animal welfare.
Complete Document

Neonatal Management Practices

The neonatal stage of a piglet is a crucial time, and this fact sheet highlights some costs and benefits of neonatal processing practices. This is designed for discussion about the role of such practices in agriculture.
Complete Document

Sows and Space

Complete Document