SMITHFIELD, Va. – Smithfield Foods began its process to convert its sow housing from the use of gestation crates to group housing in 2007. The company pledged to have all company-owned farms converted to group housing by 2017. At the end of 2015, Smithfield reports having transitioned 81.8 percent of its farms, according to a company press release. The company describes the progress as “significant” and expects to be fully converted by 2017, as planned.
“At Smithfield Foods, we are committed to keeping animals safe, comfortable and healthy,” said Ken Sullivan, Smithfield Foods president and chief executive officer. “As the world’s largest pork producer, we have a responsibility to be a leader in animal care, and we view our conversion of the pregnant sow housing system as a key component of our dedication to this goal.”
At the beginning of 2016, the company reports that more than eight out of every 10 pregnant sows on company-owned farms in the US are within group housing systems. As far as Smithfield’s contract growers are concerned, the company previously announced they would be converted to group housing for pregnant sows by 2022. Smithfield will offer guidance to its contract growers during the process.
Smithfield’s international hog production operations also have a goal of converting to group housing systems on all company-owned farms by 2022, including those in Mexico. Smithfield’s hog production operations in Poland (AgriPlus) and Romania (Smithfield Ferme) have already fully converted to group housing facilities on company-owned farms.
“Smithfield has a robust animal care management program that guides the care animals receive at every stage of their lives. This not only supports our goals for improving the health and well-being of animals, but also provides consumers with the safest food possible,” said Stewart Leeth, Smithfield Food’s vice president and chief sustainability officer. “Our commitment to the transition to group housing for pregnant sows goes hand-in-hand with other pledges, such as our removal of ractopamine from feed for all company-owned animals supplied to our processing facilities, and other steps that have placed us at the forefront of the hog production industry in the United States.”
For more information on sow housing at Smithfield, click here.