Tyson Foods CEO stresses emphasis on broiler welfare

Tyson Foods President and CEO Tom Hayes indicated that if the demand for chicken products from slower-growing broiler breeds was strong enough, and it was proven to be good from an animal welfare perspective, the company would be willing to enter into that type of production.

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(Andrea Gantz)
(Andrea Gantz)

Tyson Foods President and CEO Tom Hayes indicated that if the demand for chicken products from slower-growing broiler breeds was strong enough, and it was proven to be good from an animal welfare perspective, the company would be willing to enter into that type of production.

Foodservice and restaurant companies are increasingly signing broiler welfare commitments, which typically call for slower-growing broiler breeds and chickens raised according to Global Animal Partnership (GAP) standards. However, critics have questioned the sustainability of that production model.

Hayes, during an August 7 conference call with journalists that coincided with the release of Tyson Foods’ financial results for the third quarter of fiscal year 2017, stressed that Tyson is a company that looks at sustainability holistically, and, at the same time, takes animal welfare very seriously.

“The reason why there is an interest in the slower growing breeds is the bird health,” Hayes said. “What we focus on is having the right breed with the right animal husbandry. …”

“We do for sure test different breeds all of the time. To the extent that slower-growing breeds become more in demand -- it is a higher cost and it has implications on water usage, grain usage, space -- we will go there,” he said.

However, Hayes stressed that animal well-being is a high priority for Tyson Foods, the largest broiler company in the United States.

“We want to make sure that in our system, the experience for the bird along the journey is a good one. That’s our focus,” Hayes said.

The number of companies to commit to broiler welfare programs through August 1 can be seen in an infographic, created by WATT Global Media staff.

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