Imprisoning more than one million breeding sows in the U.S., gestation crates used by Smithfield Farms are severe forms of punishment designed with one goal in mind: increased profit.
In 2007, AWI identified Smithfield’s announcement to phase out gestation crates as a hollow public relations stunt, validated by the company itself in July when it maintained, "Due to…operating losses…we have delayed capital expenditures for the program such that we no longer expect to complete the phase-out within 10 years… ." Despite annual revenue exceeding $12 billion, Smithfield has shelved the $300 million project which has significant animal welfare implications.
Designed to minimize labor and feed costs, gestation crates cause physical and psychological disorders, are conducive to disease and can ultimately result in unhealthy food for humans. They are individual, long, narrow, barren crates atop hard slats in which sows endure the majority of their abbreviated, joyless lives. They thwart sows’ intellect and social nature. On a factory farm, a breeding sow is impregnated, confined in a gestation crate for her nearly four-month pregnancy, transferred to an equally barren crate to deliver her piglets, re-impregnated and returned to the gestation crate. If not pregnant or nursing young through the bars of their crates, sows are slaughtered.
Compassionate consumers don’t buy Smithfield’s public relations pretense or their products. The company confusingly has more than 50 brand names some of which market turkey and peanuts. To boycott them, visit: http://www.smithfieldfoods.com/our_company/view.aspx.