Smithfield’s Hog Production Division has earned the reputation as the leader in the U.S. pork production industry. Everything we do, from raising the standards of production efficiency to an industry-leading focus on environmental stewardship and animal care stems from our commitment to continual improvement in every aspect of our business.
Through our genetics development company, Smithfield Premium Genetics (SPG), we are constantly working to produce animals that have the most desirable traits such as large litters, fast growth rates, efficient feed conversion and nutritious healthy pork products. Our Ph.D. geneticists work on specially designed farms to collect, process and deliver the semen from only the finest breeding stock for use in our artificial
insemination process, thereby ensuring that the hogs we produce for the market will be of the highest quality.
Our swine production practices follow a multi-site concept.
Site 1 — The Sow Farm
We utilize artificial insemination techniques to breed all our sows. We collect and process semen from only the very best, genetically superior, adult male hogs (boars). The boars, kept at a separate specialized facility, have been selected to sire pigs with the best possible combination of desirable traits for today’s consumers. The gestation period for sows is 114 days. During the gestation period sows are individually monitored for a variety of well-being indicators such as adequate food and water intake, weight, body condition, overall health status. Each sow has an individual health record which is used to track her health status and productivity.
A few days before the sow is due to farrow she is moved to a specially designed farrowing barn. In this barn she receives individual attention as she prepares to give birth. If she needs assistance with the delivery, a specially trained person assists with the delivery and immediate care of the newborn pigs. A typical litter has from 10 – 12 piglets.
After the piglets are born they stay with their mother until weaning at approximately four weeks of age. During this time they nurse and also learn to eat a specially prepared dry ration, growing to approximately 14 to 16 pounds each. After the piglets are weaned they are ready to move on to facilities that are designed to give them plenty of space to move around and facilitate their continued growth.
Site 2 — The Nursery
Nursery facilities are designed to meet the unique needs of newly weaned piglets. Nursery barns have special temperature and ventilation equipment and controls to provide the right amount of heat and fresh air as the young piglets grow. Typically, twenty or more piglets are placed in each pen. The pen is sized to ensure plenty of room for the piglets to move around, play and get exercise. Each pen has its own water supply and feeders. The young piglets are fed a series of specially formulated feed diets during their stay at the nursery, formulations which meet the changing nutritional needs of the animal. Piglets in the nursery are looked after by personnel who are trained to understand their special needs.
Piglets typically stay at the nursery facility for approximately seven weeks. During this time they grow to about 60 pounds. At this time they are loaded onto specially designed trucks for transport to a finishing farm.
Site 3 — The Finishing Farm
At the finishing farm the animals are placed in barns, which are very similar to nursery barns, except they are quite a bit larger in order to accommodate the continued growth of the pigs, giving them plenty of room to move around and get exercise.
During their stay, approximately 22 weeks, they grow from approximately 60 pounds to market weight. At this time they are loaded onto specially designed trucks for transport to a processing facility.
At each of these types of farms, the facilities are designed with the well-being, comfort and safety of the animals in mind. At Smithfield’s Hog Production Division, the well-being of our animals is among our highest priorities. Our production practices and procedures were developed to ensure this priority is achieved.
All of our production employees receive specialized training for their particular job duties and our farm managers of on site daily at company owned farms to make sure all of the animals receive appropriate care. At Smithfield’s Hog Production Division our commitments to animal well-being are outlined in a very clear Animal Care Policy.
All of our facilities are designed to separate animal waste from the animals efficiently. The typical barn has a slatted floor which allows feces and urine to pass through and away from the animal into a containment area. Animal manure is a form of natural fertilizer and is later used to grow valuable crops such as corn, soybeans, and wheat on surrounding farmland.
Nutritional needs vary depending on the age of the animals. Our in-house nutritionists formulate different rations for the different stages of an animal’s growth cycle. Adequate amounts of fresh, clean water are provided to all of our animals.