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Animal Care

Highlights Report 2022

Perdue Commitments to Animal Care:

Creating a Culture of Animal Care

Our Perdue Commitments to Animal Care, launched in 2016, is a four-part program to accelerate our progress in animal care by giving our chickens what they want, strengthening our relationships with our farmers, building trust with multiple stakeholder groups and creating an animal care culture for continuous improvement.

Our Position on Animal Care and Welfare

At Perdue Farms, our vision is “to be the most trusted name in food and agricultural products®”. That trust extends to our animal care and welfare commitments, and we embrace our responsibility to ensure animals are treated with dignity and respect. In fact, animal welfare is an important part of our Company value of Stewardship.

Our standards for animal care are guided by the Five Freedoms, the globally accepted gold standard for animal husbandry, including:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • Freedom to express normal behavior
  • Freedom from fear and disease

For us, the Five Freedoms align with our animal care goal of going beyond giving animals what they need, to giving them what they want.

Our approach to animal care is a process of continuous improvement involving a wide range of stakeholders, with a commitment to transparency. We believe that welfare goes beyond meeting the physical needs of animals and that success is measured by more than efficiency and productivity.

We take a collaborative approach to animal care, adhering to strict requirements under the guidance of a team of veterinarians and animal welfare professionals, and input from third-party experts.

Mistreatment or abuse of animals is never tolerated. All associates handling live animals are provided training, including their responsibility to report any violations of our animal welfare policies. The farmers and ranchers who raise animals for us share in the responsibility to provide care according to our best practices and standards, and to alert us to any issues involving animal health or welfare. We regularly engage them for their input as part of our continuous improvement process.

All species that are raised and sourced for our brands and products are done so under the following standards:

  • The avoidance of confinement for all species.
  • No artificial or hormonal growth-promoting substances used, including beta antagonists or ractopamine.
  • Antibiotics will only be used when prescribed by a veterinarian with duration limits to ensure the best animal welfare for the animals.
  • An emphasis on the freedom to express natural behaviors through environmental enrichments suitable for each specific species.
  • Animals raised and sourced throughout our operations have not been subject to any genetic modification or are derived from cloned stock.
  • The avoidance of routine activities such as tail docking, teeth clipping/grinding on pigs, beak trimming on poultry and tail docking on cows.
  • Travel times for all poultry and livestock are kept to a minimum and our goal is to not exceed eight hours.
  • Animals that are rendered insensible prior to being harvested.
  • Compliance with all legislative standards and raising and sourcing all animals from animal welfare organizations such as Global Animal Partnership, Certified Humane, American Humane, USDA Certified Organic, United Egg Producers certified, National Dairy Farmers Assuring Responsible Management and USDA Processed Verified.

At Perdue Farms, we take pride in being an industry leader in animal care and remain committed to our journey of continuous improvement and doing the right things for the right reasons.  

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Progress

Part 1:
Our Chickens' Needs and Wants

Our Progress
Farmers

Part 2:
Our Farmer
Relationships

Our Progress
Trust

Part 3:
Openness, Transparency and Trust

Our Progress
Improvement

Part 4:
A Journey of Continuous Improvement

Our Progress

Progress

Part 1: Our Chickens' Needs and Wants

Perdue will evaluate and implement production systems specifically designed to go beyond just the “needs” of our chickens to also include what our chickens “want.” We will chart our progress against the “Five Freedoms.”

Freedom From Hunger & Thirst and Discomfort

Freedom From Pain, Injury and Disease

Freedom To Express Normal Behavior

Freedom From Fear and Distress

1 and 2. Freedom From Hunger & Thirst and Discomfort

We are continuing to study the feasibility and potential benefit of On-Farm Hatching (OFH) to improve early chick care. We have conducted additional trails to determine whether taking chicks directly to the farm at 18 days of incubation and placing them directly on the litter to skip the stress of hatching and processing at the hatchery would be feasible. We remain enthusiastic about the viability of OFH and will continue our research.

Our Full Report

3. Freedom From Pain, Injury and Disease

Litter condition can impact the overall health and welfare of broiler chickens. That’s why we developed a litter condition scoring method to implement across all broiler growing programs to include all farms and flocks. Going forward, we’ll study how this scoring method correlates to improved animal welfare.

Our Full Report

4. Freedom To Express Normal Behavior

As part of our journey of continuous improvement, we developed an educational module around normal chicken behavior to help train flock advisors. Our belief is that if you want to encourage normal chicken behavior, you need to understand what normal behavior is.

We are conducting research to establish a method to determine chicken preference for vegetation in the pastures of free-range and pasture-raised programs.

Just as we have implemented enrichments to enable broiler chickens to express their normal behaviors, we believe there is similar value to be gained with breeders. That’s why we are building an enrichment program for breeders to include perches and pecking blocks.

Our Full Report

5. Freedom From Fear and Distress

We remain committed to moving all of our chicken harvest operations way from using electrical shocks to “stun” birds before harvest, to using a multi-stage, dual-gas technology Controlled Atmosphere Stunning (CAS) system to induce insensibility with minimal trauma. We have selected a location for our second chicken CAS system and plan to have it operational in late 2023.

Our Full Report

Our Key Steps Forward from 2021

Establishing a method to determine chicken preference for vegetation in the pastures of free-range and pasture-raised programs.

Developing an educational module around chicken behavior to train our flock advisors.

Building an enrichment program for broiler breeders that encourages positive behaviors and discourages negative behaviors.

Developing a litter condition scoring method to implement across all broiler operations.

Exploring other methods of on-farm hatch to determine viability in our operations.

In October 2022, we held our seventh Animal Care Summit, bringing together animal care experts and advocates, customers, farmers, and our leadership.

2022 Animal Care Summit Highlights

Exploring Chickens Preference For Free-Range Pasture Plants

Meeting Demand For The Better Chicken Commitment

Meeting Demand For The Better Chicken Commitment

Transparency: A Panel Discussion

Transparency: A Panel Discussion

Exploring Chickens Preference For Free-Range Pasture Plants

Exploring Chickens Preference For Free-Range Pasture Plants

Learn About Our Research Into Chickens Feed Preference

Learn About Our Research Into Chickens Feed Preference

Animal Care Summit 2021 Highlights

Animal Care Summit 2021

Strengthening Farmer Relationships Through Our New Young Farmer Development Group

We Are Strengthening Farmer Relationships Through Our New Young Farmer Development Group

Learn What We Are Doing With On-Farm Hatch System Research

Learn How Free-Range Paster Contest Winner Gets More Birds Outside

Using Radio Frequency Identification Technology To Understand How and When Birds Go In Free-Range Pasture

We’re Using Radio Frequency Identification Technology To Under How and When Birds Go In Free-Range Pasture

Animal Care Summit 2020 Highlights

Animal Care Summit 2020 Highlights

We're Advancing Beyond the Status Quo

We're Advancing Beyond the Status Quo

Learn How Free-Range Pasture Contest Winner Gets More Birds Outside

Learn How Free-Range Paster Contest Winner Gets More Birds Outside

Learn About Our 2019 Farmer Chicken Welfare Enrichment Design Contest

2019 Farmer Chicken Welfare Enrichment Design Contest

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What Others Say About the Perdue Commitments to Animal Care

Animal Welfare Advocates

Animal Welfare Advocates

"Perdue has become the leading major poultry producer in shifting toward more humane practices. Perdue is reflecting consumer sentiment that all animalsincluding farm animalsshould be protected from pain by their work to address these issues in a meaningful, transparent and collaborative way."

Josh Balk, Vice President of Farm Animal Protection at the Humane Society of the United States

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Farmers Raising Our Chickens

Farmers Raising Our Chickens

"The animals are treated with the best care and it's not just a facade. This is really what my farm looks like everyday. It's beautiful, there's windows, they run around, it's not dusty and there's no cages."

Bobbi Jo Webber, Perdue Poultry Farmer

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Company Stewardship Report

Learn about the steps we're taking to reach our goal of becoming the most trusted name in food and agricultural products.