Sow farrowing crates are used to prevent the death of infant pigs caused by a sow that accidentally lies or steps on them. Farrowing crates also accommodate both mother and babies by giving the sow a cooler area to lie while her piglets take advantage of a separate, warmer area.
Sow farrowing crates are designed as a more spacious alternative to a gestation crate. Gestation crates are used as an alternative to an open housing plan, as separate spaces reduce incidents of aggression and make it easier to tailor feeding schedules to an individual sow's needs. While gestation crates are successful in those endeavors, they are barely large enough to accommodate the sow. Because of this lack of space, infant pigs may be trampled as the sow attempts to walk or crushed beneath her weight if she is able to lie down.
The space provided by sow farrowing crates not only reduces infant pig mortality rates; it keeps both the sow and her piglets safe and healthy. The floor of the crate is a grate that allows urine and feces to exit, drastically reducing the chance of disease. The sow's side of the crate is cooler, while the piglets' side is warmed to help them maintain the correct body temperature. Additionally, sow farrowing crates provide enough space for a farmer or veterinarian to assist with difficult births.