Its hog production subsidiary, Murphy-Brown LLC, made significant progress at Smithfield’s company-owned farms in the US, increasing the number of sows in group housing by nearly 20% over the year.
C Larry Pope, president and chief executive of Smithfield Foods, said: "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.
"I am very pleased that our employees report that group housing works equally well from both an animal care and a production standpoint."
Last year the firm recommended that all of Murphy-Brown’s contract sow growers join the company in making the move to group housing systems for pregnant sows, by 2022, and offered a sliding scale of incentives to accelerate progress.
"We have been encouraged with the initial response to our request to join with us in this commitment," commented Dennis H Treacy, executive vice-president and chief sustainability officer of Smithfield Foods.
Smithfield’s international hog production operations are also due to complete their conversion from gestation stalls to group housing systems on company-owned farms by 2022. These include its Granjas Carroll de México (GCM) and Norson joint ventures in Mexico.
According to a spokesperson for Smithfield Foods, company-owned farms in the US account for approximately 55-60% of its animals.
The firm had a total of 1,111,000 sows in 2014, comprising 887,000 in the US, 98,000 in Mexico, 81,000 in Poland and 45,000 in Romania, according to Successful Farming’s Top 25 US Pork Powerhouses 2014 report.