Smithfield Cutting Back on Gestation Crates

DanHogs & Pork, Industry News Release

The world’s largest pork producer, Smithfield Foods, said this week they’ve moved 87 percent of their pregnant sows out of gestation crates to group housing. The company is also on track to eliminate all gestation crates by the end of this year. If the company can complete the transition, it would complete a ten-year plan that began back in 2007. The move is seen as a win for the Humane Society of the U.S., which has led successful ballot initiatives in nine states to outlaw the crates. However, the Humane Society is not satisfied with the progress. President Wayne Pacelle is happy with the reforms but notes that cruel treatment continues. Pacelle noted in a blog post, “While Smithfield is moving toward group housing, it’s still confining pregnant sows into cramped spaces for several weeks at the beginning of their pregnancies. This is cruel, and if sows must be individually housed for a period, there’s no reason to give them a space so small they can’t turn around.”

From the National Association of Farm Broadcasting news service.

Image: Smithfield Foods gestation crates, Smithfield Foods / Murphy Brown pig breeding facility, Waverly, Virginia, United States. November / December 2010. Source Humane Society of the United States.

From: Smithfield Foods

Smithfield Foods Nears 2017 Goal for Conversion to Group Housing Systems for Pregnant Sows

Smithfield Foods, Inc. is pleased to report 87 percent of pregnant sows on company-owned farms have been transitioned to group housing systems, a 6 percent increase over 2015. As planned when Smithfield first announced its commitment in 2007, all company-owned farms in the U.S. are expected to be fully converted by 2017.

Today nearly nine out of every ten of our pregnant sows are living in group housing. The change has cost several hundred million dollars, and on many of the farms, the transition process led to additional construction work, equipment and system upgrades and the development of new feeding and watering systems.

“We are proud to have nearly completed our group housing transition — a process that we’ve remained dedicated to for nearly a decade,” said Stewart Leeth, vice president of regulatory affairs and chief sustainability officer for Smithfield Foods. “At each farm along the way, we’ve made changes that have benefited our animals while positively impacting the efficiency and environmental sustainability of our farms.”

Beyond efforts at company-owned farms, Smithfield previously announced it expects all U.S. contract growers to transition to group housing by 2022. Smithfield has committed to providing guidance and expertise to its contract growers to support their conversion process.

Smithfield’s hog production operations in Poland (AgriPlus) and Romania (Smithfield Ferme) fully converted to group housing facilities on company-owned farms several years ago. Smithfield’s other international hog operations, including company-owned farms in Mexico, are expected to convert to group housing by 2022.

“I am proud of the progress we have made toward this bold goal,” said Kenneth M. Sullivan, president and CEO of Smithfield Foods. “It demonstrates our continued commitment to the care and well-being of our animals, our willingness and ability to lead the industry in this arena, and the far-reaching impact these pledges have on creating value for our business, particularly our hog production operations.”

More information on sow housing at Smithfield.

Housing of Pregnant Sows

Our leadership in animal care is reflected in our commitment to transition all pregnant sows on company-owned farms to group housing systems by 2017.

As of December 31, 2016, 87.0 percent of our company-owned farms housed pregnant sows in group systems. We expect to be fully converted on company-owned farms in 2017, as planned when we first announced our commitment in 2007. (Individual stalls are still used for breeding and farrowing.) Our commitment has earned us praise from a variety of organizations, including the Humane Society of the United States.

In addition to the efforts at company-owned farms, we expect all contract sow growers in the United States to complete a transition to group housing by 2022. Contract sow growers who elect not to participate won’t be guaranteed contract extensions. We are providing guidance and expertise to contract growers when requested to help them through the conversion process.

Worldwide, we have pledged to convert all company sow farms by 2022. Operations in Poland and Romania have already completed their conversions from gestation stalls to group housing systems, and our joint ventures in Mexico are currently working toward the 2022 goal.

GOAL 2017: U.S. Company-Owned Farms
GOAL 2022: Contract Producers and International Farms

About Smithfield Foods

Smithfield Foods is a $14 billion global food company and the world’s largest pork processor and hog producer. In the United States, the company is also the leader in numerous packaged meats categories with popular brands including Smithfield®, Eckrich®, Nathan’s Famous®, Farmland®, Armour®, Cook’s®, John Morrell®, Gwaltney®, Kretschmar®, Margherita®, Curly’s®, Carando®, Healthy Ones®, Krakus®, Morliny® and Berlinki®. Smithfield Foods is committed to providing good food in a responsible way and maintains robust animal care, community involvement, employee safety, environmental and food safety and quality programs. For more information, visit