We know people expect that animals produced for food are raised in a healthy manner and treated with respect at every stage. We also know they expect more from Perdue.
We recognize that animal care is a process of continuous improvement involving a wide range of stakeholders, and commitment to transparency and the knowledge that welfare goes beyond meeting the physical needs of animals and success is measured by more than efficiency and productivity.
Through our almost 100 years of experience in animal agriculture, we’ve always focused on continuous improvement and higher levels of stewardship. All of our raising programs strive to provide a safe, healthy and reduced stress environment in which the animals have the ability to move about freely, without competition for space, and with continuous access to food, water and fresh air. In 2016, PERDUE® became the first major brand to implement progressive animal care practices that go beyond the physical needs of animals, setting new standards for poultry care and stakeholder engagement.
Responsibly raising animals
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 who raise animals for us share equal responsibility to provide care according to our best practices and standards, and to alert us to any issues involving animal health or welfare.
We use different raising programs to meet the varying expectations of our customers and consumers. We responsibly manage each of these programs, and in each case strive to assure that appropriate animal care is provided. Documented best practices, training, auditing and oversight for each of our programs ensure we and our farmers are meeting that responsibility. Numerous internal and third-party audits, customer audits, a USDA Process Verified Program for Poultry Care, Global Animal Partnership (GAP) rankings and the requirements of the National Organic Program provide additional verification across our various production programs.
Accelerating our progress
In June of 2016, we implemented a four-part plan, called "2016 and Beyond: Next Generation of Perdue Commitments to Animal Care,” to accelerate our progress in animal care, strengthen relationships with farmers, build trust with multiple stakeholder groups and create an animal care culture for continued improvement.
As the first major company to commit to implement such progressive practices in raising and harvesting animals system-wide, Perdue goes well beyond most other companies commitments to encompass not only the animals but the people who care for and handle them, as well as stakeholders who have an interest in this area.
Perdue’s four Commitments to Animal Care
The Perdue Commitments to Animal Care summarizes current progress and details next-generation initiatives for each part of the plan. Perdue is putting program measurements in place, including audits by third parties, and will release an annual report announcing its progress in reaching specific goals.
Specifically the four-part plan commits to:
- The wants and needs of the animals. Based on The Five Freedoms, an internationally recognized standard for animal husbandry, Perdue’s commitment document lays out where the company is today on each of the five aspects as well as future goals. For instance, the majority of chickens today are raised in fully enclosed barns without natural light. Perdue is committed to retrofitting 200 chicken houses with windows by the end of 2016 to compare bird health and activity to enclosed housing.
- The farmers that raise the chickens. Appreciating that chickens spend most of their time in the care of farmers, the plan stresses improved relationships with farmers. This includes creating an open dialogue about best practices in animal care, considering the farmer’s well-being and connecting animal care to pay and incentives.
- Openness, transparency and trust. The plan also calls for Perdue to be open to criticism of its current policies and procedures when deserved, share information about animal care initiatives, and proactively engage with a wide variety of animal welfare stakeholders, including advocates, academics and animal care experts.
- A journey of continuous improvement. The fourth part of the plan commits to ongoing learning and advancements in the company’s animal care programs to ensure the health and well-being of its birds through next-generation initiatives. This commitment will be driven by Perdue’s active Animal Care Council, which has been in place for more than 15 years.
For chickens and turkeys (excluding organic) raised for the PERDUE® and HARVESTLAND® brands, we use cage-free, temperature-controlled housing with fresh-air ventilation. Poultry are protected from the elements, disease and predators. They are given constant access to food and water, sufficient room to move about freely without competition or stress, and periods of light and darkness.
Audited and documented best practices, along with designated Poultry Welfare Officers for Perdue and Harvestland operations and veterinarians specializing in poultry care ensure the well-being of our birds. All Perdue and Harvestland farmers and all associates who handle live poultry receive poultry welfare training, including their responsibility to adhere to our best management practices and to report any violations of our welfare programs or standards.
Chickens raised in enclosed houses are covered by our USDA Process Verified Program for Poultry Care. This includes USDA audits of our hatcheries, farms and processing plants to ensure compliance to a welfare program that exceeds industry standards. Chickens (excluding organic) raised for the COLEMAN NATURAL® brand are from GAP-certified farms rated GAP 2 or higher.
Free-range and organic chickens
All of our organic and other free-range chickens are raised on GAP certified farms ranked GAP 2 or above, and that meet all the welfare requirements of the National Organic Program. This includes natural sunlight; open, fresh-air ventilation; enrichments (such as straw or hay that add complexity to the chickens’ environment) and easy access to spacious outdoor pasture areas that offer enrichments and a mixture of grass and earthen areas.
For COLEMAN NATURAL® and PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® pork, we work directly with family farmers who share our commitment to raising healthy pigs without antibiotics or ractopamine. Sow operations do not use gestation crates. Hogs are raised in a combination of pastures, hoop barns, outdoor pastures, and controlled environment barns with fresh-air ventilation, and each must meet our standards for responsible animal husbandry. Furthermore, a portion of our hog supply is raised on GAP-certified farms.
Hogs for Niman Ranch are raised on small family farms in accordance with Niman Ranch’s strict protocols.
We will continue to approach animal care as a journey of continuous improvement, reporting on our progress, listening to stakeholders and sharing our direction forward.