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Email Content: Poultry Industry News, Comments and more by Simon M. Shane

HSUS to Sue Smithfield Foods Over Gestation Crate Claims


Major integrators and packers in the U.S. hog industry are requiring sows to be transitioned from gestation crates to group housing.  Smithfield Foods as a prominent hog producer has reported on progress, claiming that three quarters of pregnant sows were held in group housing by the end of 2014 in their North Carolina, Murphy-Brown LLC subsidiary.  The company also claims to have embarked on a worldwide transition with complete conversion by the end of 2022, although it is doubtful whether this includes the parent company WH Group facilities in China and other countries in Asia. The HSUS is challenging these claims perhaps in ignorance of the distinction between farrowing stalls and gestation crates.


At issue is the definition of systems to confine sows.  Obviously farrowing stalls are necessary to prevent overlying of piglets between birth and weaning.  Whether or not Smithfield Foods still uses gestation crates will be a matter of evidence.  If in fact that HSUS wishes the hog industry to abandon farrowing stalls they will be responsible for an untenable situation with heavy mortality of piglets.


Since the distinction between farrowing stalls and gestation crates is misunderstood, it would be appropriate for the hog industry to select new terms for housing sows in the lactating period. Industry associations should post on websites and on social media appropriate descriptions and illustrations, including the purpose of post-natal confinement.

Copyright © 2022 Simon M. Shane