Regarding the April 6 letter by Lynn Gallagher “More suffering for sows in confinement”:
Accidental crushing by their mothers is the greatest cause of death for baby pigs. One of the reasons farmers use farrowing crates is to try to prevent crushing. The design allows the babies to move away from the mother sow to the safety and comfort of a warm mat with a heat lamp. They return to the mother to nurse once she has laid down. Baby pigs are mobile and curious. They walk under the mother and can get in the way when she lies down. This can result in death to the baby pigs by crushing.
A novel invention by a University of Iowa student is attempting to decrease crushing. This invention started as a belt but has been revised to a disposable patch. When the sow lies on a baby pig, it squeals. The squealing sound triggers a vibration in the patch, then a mild electrical shock.
This concept is similar to what dog owners use to train their dogs with an invisible fence. What’s encouraging is that early use has shown that the vibration often alerts the sow to stand up and release the baby pig, so no electrical shock is emitted. This device allows farmers to provide individualized care and prevents baby pigs, who weigh only three pounds, from accidentally being crushed by their 500 pound mothers.
It is another example of American farmers providing the best care possible for their animals.