Perdue Farms Aims to Enhance Animal Welfare Standards
For the third consecutive year, Perdue Farms continues its collaborative and transparent journey to change the way it raises chickens, addressing growing public concerns over broiler welfare. On July 11 and 12, Perdue brought together animal care experts, representatives of animal welfare advocacy groups such as the Humane Society of the United States and Compassion in World Farming; animal care researchers; leading retail and foodservice customers such as Blue Apron and Wegmans; and Perdue farmers at the third Annual Perdue Animal Care Summit to share updates on the company’s advancements in animal care and garner feedback from the groups. The event coincides with the release of the 2018 Perdue Commitments to Animal Care report.
In 2016, Perdue introduced the groundbreaking “Commitments to Animal Care” program, challenging the status quo on how the majority of chickens are raised in the US. The announcement was precedent-setting not only because a major poultry company was making significant changes to its welfare practices, but because Perdue was collaborating with animal welfare advocacy groups.
The 2018 Perdue Commitments to Animal Care Report continues that progress with several key initiatives, including:
- Committing to adding windows to 100 percent of chicken houses, after Perdue’s research demonstrated that chickens benefit from natural light
- Identifying alternative breeds that meet the demand for customers who want higher welfare chickens
- Recommitting to better relationships with the farmers who raise its chickens; incentives that reward welfare outcomes and not just productivity; and a farmers-only website, including a Farmer Relationship Index score
- Moving to higher-welfare, controlled atmosphere stunning and a first-in-the-US system to reduce stress and improve bird comfort during catching, transport and at the harvest plant.
- Increasing transparency by publishing audit results and reporting on animal care incidents.
“We also promised increased transparency and building trust with stakeholders, which is why we continue to host our Animal Care Summit,” says Chairman Jim Perdue. “The input from these partners at the Summit will help Perdue continue to identify and implement changes that have a quantifiable impact on welfare improvements for its chickens.”
Those efforts continue to earn recognition from animal welfare advocates. “We are heartened that Perdue keeps making measurable, meaningful progress to improve the lives of chickens,” said Leah Garces, USA Director for Compassion in World Farming. “Perdue keeps rising to the challenge of making better-welfare chicken available to any customer.”
That progress helped Perdue rank among the top 15% of companies in the global 2017 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare. “Perdue is reflecting consumer sentiment that all animals—including farm animals—should be protected from pain by their work to address these issues in a meaningful, transparent and collaborative way,” said Josh Balk, vice president of farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States.
“We moved beyond the basics of food, water, shelter and protection from disease to consider not only what chickens need, but what they want,” said Perdue. The company is basing its changes on “The Five Freedoms,” a globally accepted standard for animal welfare. “Since 2016, we’ve seen more companies talking about the Five Freedoms - but embracing the Five Freedoms takes more than talk, it takes change,” said Perdue.
“I have been growing chickens for 41 years and have always been supportive of the changes Perdue has initiated,” said Delaware farmer Alvin Warner. “It has provided a good life for my family and I am proud that Perdue is taking the lead in animal care.”