Smithfield Foods has delayed its plan to phase out gestation stalls for pregnant sows due to current economic conditions. The company announced the change in plans in its 2009 annual report, The Virginian-Pilot reported.

The company no longer expects to meet its 2017 deadline though it has converted to group housing at three farms, as it lost $190 million in the 2009 fiscal year. The transition is expected to cost about $300 million.

Smithfield's commitment to group-sow gestation, using a phase-in strategy involving new and remodeling facilities, was praised by animal rights groups.