IN an effort to help consumers understand how group sow housing works, Smithfield Foods last week released a YouTube video taking a "specific and interesting look" at what sows' lives are like in Smithfield's group housing system.
"We think this is both an entertaining and informative look at how we are caring for pregnant sows, with actual footage from our sow farms that helps to explain how the group housing system ensures the safety, comfort and health of the sows during the gestation process," Dennis Treacy, Smithfield executive vice president and chief sustainability officer, said.
In 2007, Smithfield announced a goal of phasing out individual gestation stalls at all company-owned sow farms by 2017. The company said it is on track to complete its goal, with 38% of sows on company-owned farms already in group housing systems by the end of 2012.
While Smithfield would not discuss specifics about sow herd numbers, a spokesman told Feedstuffs that "a majority" of its total sow herd is housed on company-owned farms.
Smithfield estimates that the cost of conversion will tally upward of $300 million by 2017. Its international hog production operations will convert to group housing by 2022.