Perdue Farms has released its 2018 Commitments to Animal Care report, which reveals the company’s latest efforts to enhance animal welfare.
The Commitments to Animal Care program, originated in 2016, challenges the status quo on how the majority of chickens are raised in the United States, according to the company.
According to a press release from Perdue, the 2018 report calls for:
- 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
- Renewing commitments to better relationships with the farmers who raise Perdue’s 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-U.S. 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.
Animal Care Summit
The release of the 2018 animal care report coincides with the third annual Perdue Animal Care Summit, in which the company brings together animal care experts, representatives of animal welfare advocacy groups, animal care researchers, leading retail and foodservice companies and Perdue farmers.
The summit was held on July 11-12, and during the event, Perdue shared updates on its advancements in animal care, while also gaining feedback from attendees.
"We also promised increased transparency and building trust with stakeholders, which is why we continue to host our Animal Care Summit," said Jim Perdue, chairman of the company. "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."
What Perdue’s advocate partners say
The efforts highlighted in the report 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 percent 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.
Perspective of Perdue farmer
“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."