See the details in our Company Stewardship Report.
Treating animals with respect means going beyond the minimum to keep animals healthy and to produce safe food. We view animal care as a journey of continuous improvement, evolving with advancements in animal husbandry and behavior, consumer questions and public concerns. This responsibility stretches across all of our raising programs and is shared by the farm families we trust to raise animals for us.
Our programs are designed so that we can raise animals in a reduced-stress environment where we don’t need to rely on human or animal antibiotics to keep them healthy, and we never use drugs for growth promotion or artificial growth promoters.
Perdue Farms is committed to the avoidance of confinement through all species. As of July 2022:
At Perdue Farms, we recognize that providing animals with appropriate, species-specific environmental enrichments can improve their living conditions and help encourage their natural behaviors. As of July 2022:
Perdue Farms is committed to the routine avoidance of activities such as tail docking of pigs and cows, debeaking of chickens and toenail conditioning of turkeys. As of July 2022:
Our objective is to ensure that all animal species, including chicken, turkey, pork, beef, dairy cows, and lamb, are rendered insensible prior to being harvested. As of July 2022:
Travel times for all poultry and livestock are kept to a minimum and our goal is to not exceed eight hours. As of July 2022:
Our beef, lamb and pork programs are incorporating additional welfare outcome measurements, including a commitment to reduce lameness. Baselines, targeted improvements, and reporting will be established in the coming year.
*All species raised and sourced for Perdue Farms brands.
As part of our pledge "to be transparent in our programs, goal and progresses," we committed to share key animal care metrics, openly criticize ourselves when appropriate, and honestly and respectfully answer those who constructively criticize us.
We routinely invite people to tour our farms and plants. We encourage our farmers to be open to visitors within the constraints of biosecurity and business needs. Over the course of a year, a range of stakeholders, including retail and foodservice customers, media, advocacy groups, community members, students, and government represen-tatives, visit our facilities. We track the number of tours by audience and have a goal to conduct 100 tours a year. We conducted 89 tours in FY23.
Perdue Farms is partnering with social-me-dia-active farmers to help increase their visi-bility and share their stories with more people. Five Perdue Farms family farmers — Kenny Young (@KennyYoung K T Young Farm), Laura Landis (@WorthTheWaitFarm), Val Nasir (@ followvalsflock), Tara Green (@greengatefar-mers_wife) and Bobbi Jo Webber(@Webber-FamilyFarm) — are creating social media content including educational pieces about raising chickens as well as stories about their history, farms, families and animals. They are passionate about farming, rais-ing animals thoughtfully and always going the extra mile to produce a better tasting product, and enjoy educating their followers on social media about their work and what it takes to feed America.
By using the hashtags #PerdueProud and #PerdueFarms_FarmerAdvocate, their posts are shared across Perdue’s social media properties, enlightening Perdue Farms’ followers and reaching a wider audience for their information.
The farmers periodically receive product samples from multiple Perdue brands for fun unboxing videos, as well as product bundles and gift certificates to help engage their audiences. Look for our farmer advocates on all the Perdue social channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest.
As part of Perdue’s commitment to transparency, three on-farm Poultry Learning Centers in partnership with families in Georgia, Kentucky, and North Carolina, are providing interactive experiences to learn about various aspects of poultry farming and proper animal care.
At these educational facilities, the family hosts guests of all ages for a transpar-ent, interactive experience to learn about various aspects of poultry farming and proper animal care. Built seamlessly into the side of a working chicken house, each learning center includes a large viewing room that allows guests to observe the birds undisturbed in their environment. Educational videos explain what visitors see inside the chicken house, as well as the timeline from when farmers receive the birds to how they raise and care for them while they are on the farm. Additionally, guests have the opportunity for hands-on learning using actual poultry equipment that replicates what they see through the window, including mechanized feeders and waterers and automated temperature-control technology.
Cooley Farms, founded in 1985 by Larry and Terri Cooley, a multi-generational farm fam-ily in Roberta, Ga., are one of the Perdue farm families to install a viewing room at their farm. They have hosted more than 500 local students and educators.
“This learning center has been a dream of my mom’s for a while, and she’s been the driv-ing force behind making it a reality. The family saw her vision and pulled together to bring it to life,” said Cooley Farms co-owner and operator Leighton Cooley. “There’s a lot of bad information out there about animal agriculture. We want to help people understand where their food comes from and how our animals are raised, and openly discuss any misconceptions they might have. We are proud to raise chickens for Perdue and share likeminded values regarding animal care and doing things the right way.”
Stephen Brake, a second-generation poultry farmer in Pinetops, N.C., has hosted 538 children and adults through 28 tours at his on-farm learning center. His focus is on local universities and community colleges, Future Farmers of America, high schools, and 4H students.
“After speaking with other farmers who had opened Learning Centers on their farms, it opened my eyes to a lot of things. I realized the importance of sharing who we are as farmers and how we care for our animals, because there is a lot of misinformation out there,” said Brake. “We love what we do and want to inform both adults and kids about where their food comes from. It’s one thing to tell people what we do; it’s more meaningful if we can let them see it for themselves.”
We Continue to Learn from RFID and On-Farm Hatching Technology. While it’s one thing to say free-range chickens can access the outdoors, we want to go further to ensure we’re making it easy, and that the environment is what they want - not what we think is best.
One way we are continuing research around this is by using Radio Frequency Identification Devices (RFID) at our Westo-ver, Md., research farm to gather data on birds exiting and entering the “pophole” doors and the time each bird spends in the pasture. Each bird is outfitted with a small tracking device on its leg that is wirelessly read by sensors on the inside and outside of the “pophole” doors to track the birds’ movements in and out of the house.
We believe this to be an industry first. While we have more work to nail down the technology, we believe in this approach of asking what the chicken wants and putting actual data behind our care practices. We’ll continue researching the best ways to get birds to utilize the pasture.
We continue to study the feasibility and potential benefits of on-farm hatching (OFH) to improve early broiler chick quality and welfare.
Our initial studies at our Westover, Md. research farm involved the installation of an OFH system where eggs were incubated through day 18 and then taken directly to the farm to hatch instead of being placed in the hatcher. The eggs are placed in their setter racks in a suspended table or placed directly on the litter depending on the system. The room temperature is adjusted to keep the eggs at the desired temperature and then birds will hatch over the next 24 to 72 hours. We saw some success in improving chick quality and livability with this process.
In FY23, we researched other OFH systems and decided to conduct a pilot in FY24 with a system that transfers the pre-incubated eggs directly on a natural litter bed in the broiler house. As soon as every day-old chick is hatched, they have direct access to feed, water and light. We are the first U.S. poultry company to test this technology.
In FY23, we launched a project called “Pasture Choice” as part of ongoing research to encourage broiler chickens to enter the outside pasture. Operating under the premise that having the birds in the pasture is good for animal welfare, we believe having plants and grasses that will attract them to the pasture to encourage foraging will also improve welfare.
We’re looking at what plants will thrive in the pasture and, more importantly, what plants do the birds prefer. We’ve tested a variety of plants, including alfalfa, clover, buckwheat, marigold and sunflowers. Going forward, we plan to test a mixture of several plant seeds at one or more of our farm partners’ broiler operations and determine the contribution of these plants to the nutritional profile of the meat.
Strengthening relationships with our farmers is one of four pillars of our Commitments to Animal Care poultry program.
In 2016, we created Farmer Councils in each of our poultry live production areas – broilers, breeders and turkey – to share information and receive feedback.
Since then, 15 percent of our farmers have participated in the Farmer Council process. Councils meet four hours every six months to discuss how we can be the farmers’ choice to supply them birds. Our focus is to understand their business from their perspective – a key learning opportunity that is mutually beneficial.
We also established a Young Farmer Development Group to help us foster stronger relationships by meeting the young farmers unique needs.
Now in its third year, the Young Farmer Development Group consists of 12 next-generation farmers under the age of 30 across our broiler growing regions. We’ve conducted virtual meetings to explore their priorities for mentoring, including with experienced poultry farmers, information, and engagement, are developing a program to support their development and long-term success.
While it’s one thing to say free-range chickens can access the outdoors, we want to go further to ensure we’re making it easy, and that the environment is what they want, and not what we think is best.
For the nearly four-month pig gestation period, most sows (mom pigs) in the U.S. live in a gestation crate, a roughly 2-by-7-foot stall where the animals do not have enough room to even turn around, walk or socialize. When the sows are ready to give birth, they are moved to restrictive farrowing crates where they spend the next three to four weeks before going back to a gestation crate for breeding.
Since day one, Niman Ranch has banned the use of gestation and farrowing crates, believing intelligent animals like pigs deserve to have space to root, roam and exhibit their natural behaviors.
With multiple states and corporations setting policies and goals to end the use of crates, Niman Ranch has become a leading voice to highlight a better, more humane way to raise pigs. Niman Ranch farmers and company leadership were featured in numerous media outlets speaking on the topic, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, National Geographic, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, Associated Press, CNN, Newsweek and more.