McDonald's Corp. said today it will require its pork suppliers to get rid of gestation pens that animal-rights groups have long deemed cruel to pigs, Bloomberg reported.

"There are alternatives that we think are better for the welfare of sows," Dan Gorsky, McDonald's senior vice president of North America supply chain management, said in a statement that was released with the Humane Society of the United States.

McDonald's uses pork in sausage McMuffins, breakfast platters and McRib sandwiches.

The company will require its suppliers to submit plans by May to phase out the metal cages, which measure about 2 feet by 7 seven feet, Bloomberg said.

The move comes 11 years after Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc.began requiring its pork suppliers to raise pigs outside or in large cages and to use antibiotic-free and vegetarian food, Bloomberg said.

Pigs kept in these pens are more susceptible to disease and illnesses such as urinary tract infections, said Paul Shapiro, a spokesman for the Washington-based Humane Society. They also suffer psychologically because pigs are "very social, intelligent animals," he said.

Cargill Inc. and Smithfield Foods Inc. are leading the way in getting rid of the animal enclosures, McDonald's said.