Smithfield reaches 100% open housing goal

Smithfield Foods has reached its goal of 100% open housing for pregnant sows in its company-owned operations. Smithfield says it is a world leader in changing from pen housing to open housing, part of its overall sustainability plans.

Steward Leeth, Smithfield’s chief sustainability officer and vice president of regulatory affairs tells Brownfield Ag News it has been a challenge to change sows from being in stalls to open areas; something that has cost the company more than $360-Million dollars, “And, even today, and I’m not an expert but many of the vets in the studies that look at it don’t differentiate, in terms of the well-being of the sow, between the open sow system and the traditional way in which it’s done.”

Company-owned hog operations make up more than half of Smithfield’s production and Leeth says contract operators do not have to make the changes. But, he says, they are incentivized through contract extensions and other means.

Leeth says Smithfield’s big retail customers still have goals of sourcing meat from operations that have switched to open sow housing and he does not see that trend reversing.

AUDIO: Interview with Stewart Leeth~

Smithfield 2017 Sustainability Report – Animal Care

  • I’m curious to know how many sows are in the open area together. How much space do these sows have? Ample shade? Water? Heat? How are they fed? What happens to the sows at the bottom of the pecking order? Who watches to see that each sow gets her fair share of feed? There’s a lot that you’re not telling here!

    • Hi Janet,

      I will reach out with your specific questions. In the interview, Mr. Leeth says every operation is different. He also addresses the aggression issue in the interview that is attached to the story, and how it is dealt with in the open system. Let me know if you are unable to access the audio.

      Julie Harker
      News Director

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