Cargill Pork and Cargill Animal Nutrition business units of Cargill, Inc. have joined forces to open the Cargill Sow Innovation Center in Sugar Grove, KY, to support the company’s efforts in animal welfare and pork production.

Research work will focus on maximizing sow lifetime reproductive performance, increasing pig weaning weight and improving pig nutrition, while also developing advanced farm production management tools, techniques and systems.

The facility will incorporate gestation group housing and alternative housing for farrowing.

The center is the result of an extensive $1.5-million renovation that will house 1,800 sows and employ 10 people with expertise in animal nutrition, animal husbandry, sows productivity and data management. The effort will combine Cargill Pork’s expertise in swine production and farm management with Cargill Animal Nutrition’s swine nutrition and feed formulation knowledge.

“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,” states 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 about 10 million hogs annually at its facilities in Iowa and Illinois, establishing it as the fourth-largest U.S. pork processor. The company raises about 2.5 million hogs annually, and purchases hogs from producers throughout the Midwest.

Cargill pork operations employ about 5,000 people.
“This collaboration within Cargill will reinforce our leadership position in animal nutrition and benefit our customers around the world,” states Joe Stone, president of the Cargill Animal Nutrition business.

“Cargill’s new Sow Innovation Center, with its focus on animal welfare, demonstrates our leadership position in, and ongoing commitment to, further improving living conditions for swine that become sources of animal protein for human consumption,” says Mike Siemens, who heads Cargill’s animal welfare efforts. “It is the right thing to do, in addition to being good business.”

Cargill is a privately held company employing 131,000 people worldwide. For more information, visit