Cargill Pork and Animal Nutrition divisions have collaborated to open the Cargill Sow Innovation Center located in Sugar Grove, Ky., in support of the company's animal welfare efforts and to further improve pork production.
Employees at the center will conduct research focused on maximizing sow lifetime reproductive performance, increasing pig weaning weight, improving pig nutrition while also developing new and better farm production management tools, techniques and systems. The facility will incorporate gestation group housing, as well as evaluate alternative housing for farrowing sows. Cargill's presence in Sugar Grove began in 1992.
The center is the result of a $1.5 million dollar upgrade and renovation, will house 1,800 sows and employ 10 people whose expertise includes animal nutrition, animal husbandry, sow productivity, and data management. The project combines Cargill Pork's extensive swine production expertise and experience in farm management with Cargill Animal Nutrition's swine nutrition and feed formulation knowledge and expertise.
"Health and welfare of the animals we harvest at our pork plants is important because humanely handling sows and their piglets results in better animals and improved meat from those animals," said Dirk Jones, president of Cargill Pork. "We've worked with Dr. Temple Grandin, noted animal welfare expert at Colorado State University, who has helped us design live animal portions of our facilities, in addition to helping us better understand the importance of proper animal handling.”
Cargill harvests approximately 10 million swine annually at its facilities in Iowa and Illinois, making it the fourth largest pork processor in the U.S. The company's live production operations raise approximately 2.5 million market swine annually, making it one of the largest swine producers in the nation. In addition to raising swine, Cargill purchases swine from producers throughout the Midwest. Cargill's pork operations employ approximately 5,000 people.