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  • Livestock


    Cattle on a pasture in GermanyLivestock are domesticated animals raised in an agricultural setting to produce labor and commodities such as meat, eggs, milk, fur, leather, and wool. The term is sometimes used to refer solely to those that are bred for consumption, while other times it refers only to farmed ruminants, such as cattle and goats. In recent years, some organizations have also raised livestock to promote the survival of rare breeds. The breeding, maintenance, and slaughter of these animals, known as animal husbandry, is a component of modern agriculture that has been practiced in many cultures since humanity's transition to farming from hunter-gatherer lifestyles. Animal husbandry practices have varied widely across cultures and time periods. Originally, livestock were not confined by fences or enclosures, but these practices have largely shifted to intensive animal farming, sometimes referred to as "factory farming". Now, over 99% of livestock are raised on factory farms. These practices increase yield of the various commercial outputs, but have also led to negative impacts on animal welfare and the environment.

  • Smithfield Foods


    Smithfield Foods, Inc., is a meat-processing company and wholly owned subsidiary of WH Group of China. Founded in 1936 as the Smithfield Packing Company in Smithfield, Virginia, by Joseph W. Luter and his son, the company is the largest pig and pork producer in the world. In addition to owning over 500 farms in the United States, Smithfield contracts with another 2,000 independent farms around the country to grow Smithfield's pigs. Outside the U.S., the company has facilities in Mexico, Poland, Romania, Germany and the UK. Globally the company employed 50,200 in 2016 and reported an annual revenue of $14 billion. Its 973,000-square-foot meat-processing plant in Tar Heel, North Carolina, was reported in 2000 to be the world's largest, processing 32,000 pigs a day. Then known as Shuanghui Group, WH Group purchased Smithfield Foods in 2013 for $4.72 billion, more than its market value. It was the largest Chinese acquisition of an American company to date. The acquisition of Smithfield's 146,000 acres of land made WH Group, headquartered in Luohe, Henan province, one of the largest overseas leasers of American farmland. Smithfield Foods began its growth in 1981 with the purchase of Gwaltney of Smithfield, followed by the acquisition of nearly 40 companies between then and 2008, including Eckrich; Farmland Foods of Kansas; John Morrell; Murphy Family Farms of North Carolina; Circle Four Farms of Utah; and Premium Standard Farms. The company was able to grow as a result of its highly industrialized pig production, confining thousands of pigs in large barns known as concentrated animal feeding operations, and controlling the animals' development from conception to packing. As of 2006 Smithfield raised 15 million pigs a year and processed 27 million, producing over six billion pounds of pork and, in 2012, 4.7 billion gallons of manure. Killing 114,300 pigs a day, it was the top pig-slaughter operation in the United States in 2007; along with three other companies, it also slaughtered 56 percent of the cattle processed there until it sold its beef group in 2008. The company sells its products under several brand names, including Cook's, Eckrich, Gwaltney, John Morrell, Krakus, and Smithfield. Kenneth M. Sullivan became the president and chief executive officer in 2015.

  • Pig farming


    Large White piglets on a farm Large White sow suckling her piglets Interior of pig farm at Bjärka-Säby Castle, Sweden, 1911.Pig farming is the raising and breeding of domestic pigs as livestock, and is a branch of animal husbandry. Pigs are farmed principally to be eaten (e.g. bacon, gammon) or sometimes skinned. Pigs are amenable to many different styles of farming: intensive commercial units, commercial free range enterprises, or extensive farming (being allowed to wander around a village, town or city, or tethered in a simple shelter or kept in a pen outside the owner’s house). Historically, farm pigs were kept in small numbers and were closely associated with the residence of the owner, or in the same village or town. They were valued as a source of meat, fat and for the ability to turn inedible food into meat, and often fed household food waste if kept on a homestead. Pigs have been farmed to dispose of municipal garbage on a large scale. All these forms of pig farm are in use today. In developed nations, commercial farms house thousands of pigs in climate-controlled buildings. Pigs are a popular form of livestock, with more than one billion pigs butchered each year worldwide, 100 million of them in the USA. The majority of pigs are used for human food but also supply skin, fat and other materials for use as clothing, ingredients for processed foods, cosmetics, and medical use. The activities on a pig farm depend on the husbandry style of the farmer, and range from very little intervention (as when pigs are allowed to roam villages or towns and dispose of garbage) to intensive systems where the pigs are contained in a building for the majority of their lives. Each pig farm will tend to adapt to the local conditions and food supplies and fit their practices to their specific situation. The following factors can influence the type of pig farms in any given region: Available food supply suitable for pigs The ability to deal with manure or other outputs from the pig operation Local beliefs or traditions, including religion The breed or type of pig available to the farm Local diseases or conditions that affect pig growth or fecundity Local requirements, including government zoning and/or land use laws Local and global market conditions and demand

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