VIRGINIA

Smithfield to stop confining sows in metal crates

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SMITHFIELD, Va. (AP) - Smithfield Foods says it is on track to end the practice of keeping female hogs in small metal crates while pregnant at its U.S. facilities by 2017.

The world's largest pork producer posted a video Wednesday giving viewers a closer look at what sows' lives are like in Smithfield group housing.

Smithfield has been criticized for continuing to breed sows in the crates that severely restrict the animals' movement. It estimates the U.S. conversion will have cost about $300 million when complete.

The Smithfield, Va.-based company also reiterated that its international hog production operations will complete its conversion by 2022.

The Humane Society of the United States had filed a federal complaint in 2011 saying Smithfield was misleading consumers by suggesting it does not abuse pigs.

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