New research: Free group farrowing, welfare and productivity

Universities  of Helsinki and Wageningen started research collaboration for to study the benefits of free group farrowing on pig welfare and productivity.

Usually sows are farrowing in cages preventing them to turn around. They are nursing their piglets in cages around 4 weeks after which they are separated, and usually housed in insemination cages for a period of another 4 weeks.

The study farm, Ollikkalan piggery, is the 1st fee goup-farowing system in Finalnd. The piggery brings recent scientific results to  a modern pig production: pregnant sows are group-housed , and one-week before expected farrowing they are moved as a group to a group-farrowing unit. In the unit each sow has her own straw-bedded pen in which she can build nest and farrow freely, and from which se has an access to shared area.  Two-week-old piglets are usually capable of jumping over a shallow separator between farrowing pens and yard. Sows and piglets are raised together for 9 weeks.

DVM Maria Nystén is starting her PhD-studies about the effects of free-farrowing systems on sow welfare and productivity. In addition she is interested to study how to synchronize  heats with an interrupted nursing. Usually sow has to be weaned of from her piglets to induce her in heat, but with this new production system she may be able to be longer with her piglets to stimulate the more natural situation.

Faculty of veterinary medicine will use Ollikkala piggery also for teaching purposes, from the 1st to the 6th year students.

Faculty got funding from the Ministry of agriculture and forestry Finland, private funding societies and companies


Maria Nystén maria.nysten(at)
Anna Valros anna.valros(at), p. 029-4157400
Mari Heinonen mari.heinonen(at), p. 0400-687915
Olli Peltoniemi olli.peltoniemi(at)
Claudio Oliviero claudio.oliviero(at)

Pig Research Group in Facebook 

Ollikkala piggery
Veera Ollikkala veera.ollikkala(at)

Ollikkala Piggery in Facebook