Skip to Main Content

Pigs Suffer While Smithfield Takes Its Time

Written by Michelle Kretzer | December 9, 2011

Smithfield Foods, Inc., the world’s largest pig supplier, announced yesterday that it will phase out gestation crates for pregnant sows by 2017. Let’s hope it keeps its word this time. Smithfield has promised this before.

Female pigs at Smithfield are forced into continuous cycles of pregnancy and birth, only to have their piglets ripped away from them within weeks. The pregnant pigs are confined to metal-barred gestation crates so small that they are nearly immobilized.

In 2007, Smithfield agreed to phase out the crates in 10 years. The decision followed pressure from animal advocates, including PETA’s public protests, meetings with Smithfield executives, and a shareholder resolution to ban the crates. But after two years, the company dropped the plan, citing economic woes.

Last month, PETA launched a “hashtag hijack,” flooding a Smithfield Twitter event with tweets from supporters demanding the end of gestation crates. Smithfield has now agreed but has given itself another five years to comply and said the ban would apply only to farms owned by the company, not its many contract farms.

A company that earned record profits last year off the misery of pigs could start today to end one of its worst abuses. And it should require its contract farmers to do the same. Hopefully, Smithfield won’t renege again and will listen to our calls to ban all gestation crates. Animal advocates can continue to cut into the company’s profit margins by refusing to eat Smithfield products—or any pigs.

Commenting is closed.
  • Elaine Seidler says:

    It makes me ill to think about how pigs and hogs are being abused at our American farms. It’s bad enough that they are being raised to be eaten. But, to have to live in a crowed, uncomfortable, and inhumane environment or to be killed in a disgusting manner is beyond my comprehension. Why not let them enjoy their young, mates, and health up until their death? The word is out and our government and community needs to take immediate, decisive, and absolute action so that corrections may be addressed. Let’s all do something now, so that this heartbreaking insane mistreatment can be rectified.

  • Elizabeth Ruth says:

    Sure, they use gestation crates to protect the piglets. They cut off chicks beaks, so they won’t peck each other too. How humane of them. These animals are not our business to use and abuse. It is disrespectful to nature to not let them be free in the wild as was intended by God, Mother Nature or whoever or whatever put us all here. Plain and simple. This is why I’m vegan, as much as my circumstances allow. Unfortunately, without much money, people aren’t often treated much better than these animals and my access to quality food and medical care is almost non-existent. And, that pretty much sums up the state of humanity.

  • asdf says:

    i have seen gestation crates at our school farm being used a friend of mine breeds her pig. this article is exagerated quite a bit the crates are used to protect the piglets from the 600 pound mother laying on them and smashing them after all dead piglets are no good to the farmer. and they leave the piglets with the mother because really who wants to bottle feed 15 piglets.

  • Grace says:

    Darius they are NOT the most humane way. Studies have shown that if the sows were simply given more room there would be the same amount of piglets crushed as there is with the farrowing crates. And I wouldn’t call being able to stand up and lie back down “loads of room”, they can’t turn around or walk. And they may only be put into them a day or two before they farrow but they remain in their for a month

  • Elizabeth Ruth says:

    Smithfield is going to continue doing whatever makes them money, and it’s not producing tofu! Asking the company to do this is a waste of time. DO NOT EAT PORK! If you don’t eat it, they won’t sell it. Pigs are this company’s purpose and reason for being. There is no way to make that ethical. The only thing Smithfield could do that would be ethical is to shut down and go into production of veggie burgers. Call me unyielding, but there is just no in-between here. Meat-free Mondays, however, are a great idea. Gotta start somewhere, and even one meal free of pork is less money invested in Smithfield.

  • Darius says:

    I was raised on a pig farm and I LOVE animals and support PETA whole-heartedly. This article, however, is exaggerated and misinformed. The reason sows are placed into gestation crates (and it’s only a day or two before they farrow) is so that they will not CRUSH their piglet after they are born. The sows have plenty of room to move back and forth, but the main thing at this point is to keep the babies alive. The sows are well fed and taken care of. And yes…they are pigs. They’re “job” is to reproduce and continually have pregnancy cycles. “Only to have their piglets ripped away from them” is way too dramatic. It is a working farm. Once the piglets are at the age of weaning 5-7 weeks, they are placed with other weaned piglets. They’re called feeder pigs. This article makes it seem as though the sow weeps for her children. Yes, they ARE intelligent animals, but this is a cycle for them. The piglets don’t have names, they aren’t going off to college, or even helping support the family. They aren’t pets. They’re working animals that help feel the population of this country. Again, I love PETA and I give you money, but this is a gross exaggeration. Don’t do things like this to get people all riled up about nothing. Gestations crates are THE MOST humane way to protect the baby piglets after birth when they’re trying to get to the mother’s tits for nourishment. Would you prefer she crush all of the babies before they’ve even had a chance to live? I know I’ll get lambasted here and yelled at about how I don’t get it and what I have. Thing is, I know more about this than any of you since I grew up in this environment. Trust me, in 2017 when the farrowing crates are phased out, you will talk about how cruel Smithfield is because they allow sows to “murder” their babies.

  • Lisa says:

    2017 are they having a laugh? another 5 years of abuse for these intelligent wonderful animals, i think they are all taking you for a ride.