SMITHFIELD, Va. – Smithfield Foods, Inc. reported a 20 percent increase in the number of pregnant sows the company's production subsidiary, Murphy-Brown LLC, transitioned into group housing on its farms in the United States. By the end of 2014, 71.4 percent of pregnant sows were in group housing.

The company also reported that its international hog production operations also will complete conversions to group housing systems on company-owned farms by 2022. Smithfield's hog production operations in Poland (AgriPlus) and Romania (Smithfield Ferme) have been using group housing systems on company-owned farms for a number of years. The company's Granjas Carroll de México (GCM) and Norson joint ventures in Mexico have committed to phasing out gestation stalls on company-owned farms by 2022.

“We made a business decision in 2007, based on input from our customers, to convert to group housing for our pregnant sows on all of our US farms, and I'm proud of the fact that our employees are working very hard to make good on our commitment and complete this challenging task by 2017,” said C. Larry Pope, president and CEO. “I am very pleased that our employees report that group housing works equally well from both an animal care and a production standpoint.”

The company also recommended that all contract sow growers for Murphy-Brown convert their facilities to group housing systems by 2022. Smithfield is offering a sliding scale of incentives to accelerate conversions.

“We have been encouraged with the initial response to our request to join with us in this commitment,” said Dennis H. Treacy, executive vice president and chief sustainability officer of Smithfield Foods.