Pigs' needs and wants

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Animal welfare is inherently related to animals’ needs and wants. Needs relate to biological requirements, while wants relate to animals’ desires, which may go beyond what is required to maintain health. The Five Freedoms, which underpin much of the guidance and legal frameworks regarding protection of farm animal welfare, are closely related to animals’ needs. Yet despite their acceptance as the basis for minimal welfare standards, it can be argued that many of the freedoms, and thus animals’ needs, are not actually met for pigs kept under commercially intensive conditions. This is particularly the case regarding the ‘Freedom to express normal behaviour’. In many cases, normal behaviour is not merely a desire but innate and needs to be performed in order to remain physically or psychologically healthy or to produce healthy offspring. This chapter aims to reflect on pigs’ needs and wants and how these are met in current pig husbandry systems. We also propose a matrix of needs and wants as guidance for moving towards better standards.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Pig Welfare, Second Edition
EditorsIrene Camerlink, Emma Baxter
PublisherWoodhead Publishing
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9780323856768
ISBN (Print)9780323915731
Publication statusFirst published - 6 Oct 2023


  • Animal welfare
  • five freedoms
  • natural behaviour
  • pigs
  • innate behaviour
  • behavioural expression
  • Five freedoms
  • Preference
  • Innate behaviour
  • Behavioural expression
  • Natural behaviour


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