Library:Gilts prefer an open pen to a stall (research)

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Gilts prefer an open pen to a stall (research)

Gilts prefer an open pen to a stall is a research paper written by Thomas Ede, Mia Ceribelli & Thomas D. Parsons published on 27 April 20244 in Scientific Reports, volume 14, Article number: 9684 (2024).


  • Study Purpose: The research aimed to understand how housing confinement affects pigs, specifically gilts (young female pigs), by observing their preference for open spaces versus stalls.
  • Method: Over 7 days, gilts were given a choice between a small stall and a larger, shared open area. Their behavior and preferences were recorded.
  • Findings: Most gilts (21 out of 29) preferred spending time in the open area, with an average of 95.2% of their time spent outside the stalls1.
  • Conclusion: The study suggests that when given a choice, gilts prefer more open space, indicating that crate confinement could negatively impact their welfare.


  • Housing Preferences: The study investigates gilts’ preferences between open pens and stalls, revealing a significant preference for open areas.
  • Personality Traits: Gilts’ personality traits, assessed through tests, showed that more engaged gilts spent more time in crates.
  • Time and Preference: The study found that gilts were more likely to use crates at night and as the experiment progressed.
  • Welfare Implications: The clear preference for open areas suggests that confining pigs to crates could negatively impact their welfare.

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