Share This Article:

Pigs can be raised indoors or outside, but since most breeds don’t have fur or wool coats to keep them warm in Canada’s cold winter weather, it is difficult for them to live outdoors all year long.

That’s why most pigs in Canada live in specially-designed barns with fans—or “curtains” that can be opened—to keep a steady, comfortable climate indoors year-round, and to protect the animals against disease.

To learn more about the importance of biosecurity on a pig farm, watch the video below.

Farrowing crates are used to protect piglets and the sow
Ontario Pork
Farrowing crates are used to protect piglets and the sow
Ontario Pork

Did you know?

Pigs can get a sunburn too! That’s why even pigs that live outdoors must have access to some kind of shelter from the sun.

Sows and piglets

Sows are female pigs that “farrow” or give birth to a litter of piglets twice a year. Each litter usually includes 12 to 16 piglets.

Just before giving birth, most sows go into special enclosures called farrowing pens where they stay until they’ve finished nursing their piglets. They can lean against the bars of the pens as they lie down—that’s to make sure they don’t accidentally lie down on top of their piglets and crush them. The pens allow farmers to monitor the piglets and sows closely during this critical time, and also include a special area next to the sow where the piglets sleep, and can be kept warm with a heat lamp or a heating pad. To learn more about how farmers keep pigs safe, visit

Once they are weaned from their mothers, piglets live in groups with other pigs the same size or age. In barns built after 2014, sows live in groups too, as individual stalls are being phased out in Canada. Farmers, researchers, and other welfare experts work continually to improve how pigs are raised, and research in pig health, behaviour and housing is ongoing in Canada and around the world.