SMITHFIELD, Va. – More than a decade has passed since Smithfield Foods made a business decision to house the company’s sows in group housing systems and report antibiotics use in the animals. The release of the Animal Care section of Smithfield’s 2017 Sustainability Report documents the company’s journey to establish practices to ensure animal safety, comfort and health.

“Our approach to animal care is rooted in the fundamental philosophy that the healthier our animals, the healthier our company,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and CEO for Smithfield Foods. “Our bold initiatives create value for our business, our contract growers and supply chain partners, as well as the industry as a whole. Our animal care practices and policies underpin our focus on producing good food the right way.”

The report provides in-depth information on Smithfield’s position as the:

  • First company to commit to group housing systems for pregnant sows on company-owned farms. All pregnant sows on company-owned farms globally, including joint ventures in Mexico, are housed in groups.
  • First and only company in the industry to report antibiotics usage (since 2007).
  • First pork producer to develop and implement a comprehensive, systematic animal welfare management program.
  • First protein company to release virtual reality videos of its hog farms.

The Animal Care report also includes details about the company’s ongoing research into alternatives to antibiotics. Initiatives include a new vaccine research lab, results of internal and third-party animal care audits and Smithfield’s ongoing efforts to enhance animal care management systems.

“This past year marked a tremendous milestone for Smithfield with the completion of our sow housing conversion,” said Stewart Leeth, vice president of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods. “We invested more than $360 million and ten years into our transition to group housing systems for pregnant sows on company-owned farms and fulfilled that commitment right on schedule in 2017. We were proud to make this commitment a decade ago, a first in the industry, and even prouder now to have fulfilled it.”

Smithfield also released a new 360-degree virtual reality video to support the release of the Animal Care section of the 2017 report. The experience transports viewers to one of Smithfield’s wean-to-finish hog farms.