Applaud Pork Producer’s Move to Eliminate Gestation Crates


Target: Joseph W. Luter, III, Chairman, Smithfield Foods

Goal: Praise transfer of hundreds of thousands of pigs to more humane accommodations

Over 70 percent of pregnant sows have been transferred out of gestation crates at a subsidiary of Smithfield Foods, America’s largest pork producer, according to a recent announcement. These tiny cages are designed to house individual sows during pregnancy in order to regulate their food intake and control aggression levels. These cages leave no room for the 900-pound pigs to turn around or even take a step forward or backward.

In these crates, pigs are more likely to experience both mental and physical health issues. Constant chewing at bars and obsessive gnawing of water dispensers (both signs of boredom and chronic frustration) can create wounds in the mouth and face. The lack of mobility results in pressure sores, a loss of bone density and muscle mass, damage to the cardiovascular system, and even lameness. In their close quarters, they are also at higher risk of infections and respiratory diseases.

So far, 71 percent of the subsidiary’s 853,000 pigs have been transferred to group housing systems. Here, they have more room to move around and engage in natural behaviors, and are at less risk of health issues. By 2017, Smithfield Foods plans to get rid of gestation crates entirely in favor of the roomier group accommodations.

As the largest pork producer in America, Smithfield’s move will not only improve the welfare of millions of pigs, but will also put pressure on competitors to put more thought into the welfare of their animals. Sign the petition below to applaud the producer’s progress toward creating a more compassionate pig farming industry.


Dear Mr. Joseph W. Luter, III,

Smithfield Foods’ suppliers have begun transferring pregnant sows from gestation crates into group housing, where they have room to move around and engage in more natural behaviors. Gestation crates house individual sows in pens so small they cannot turn around or take more than a few steps. These tiny quarters leave the pigs at risk of disease, infection, physical weakness, and psychological disturbance.

So far, a subsidiary responsible for over 800,000 pigs has transferred over 70 percent of its animals to the improved conditions. By 2017, Smithfield aims to get rid of cruel and dirty gestation crates entirely. We, the undersigned, praise your efforts to get rid of gestation crates, which will set a positive precedent within the pork industry.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Farm Sanctuary via Creative Commons

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