We are the nation's leader in poultry production, and we are an innovator in designing the production process. We use vertical integration to control product quality from the egg to the finished product on your table. Vertical integration allows us to oversee every aspect of production.
The parent stock of our birds comes from grandparent stock produced over many generations from suppliers such as Cobb Vantress (now a wholly-owned subsidiary). The modern chicken is much different from the birds of just a couple of decades ago. For example, the American craving for breast meat and further-processed products has had an effect on the shape of the bird. Breeders have been able to choose traits that fit our customers' needs better. These traits are then passed on to later generations.
On chicken farms, bio-security standards are very strict to prevent the possible spread of avian diseases. Special rules and precautions apply to visitors who might have been to other farms and who may carry disease from other flocks.
The breeder birds produce eggs that may be collected by hand or by conveyor belts. The eggs are placed into trays which are then ready to head to a Tyson hatchery.
Tyson birds begin as eggs that come from Tyson breeder farms. These little white packages are the product of generations of careful genetic planning.
The eggs are first put into incubators, or setters, to start the growing process. Trays of eggs are kept at a constant temperature of 99.5 degrees, and the humidity is controlled at a level of 86 percent. The incubator tilts the trays back and forth at regular intervals. This is similar to what a hen would do by rolling the eggs around the nest.
Eighteen days after the eggs are placed into the setter, it's time to go into a hatcher. Before going into the hatcher, the chicks are vaccinated against disease right in the egg. In the hatcher, the temperature and humidity is again closely monitored to give each egg the best chance of hatching.
After three days in the hatcher, the chicks begin to hatch, just like clockwork (or should we say cluckwork?). The new baby chicks are then vaccinated to prevent respiratory problems.
In some hatcheries, Tyson Team Members separate the birds by sex and sort them into baskets of 100 each. They can tell the sex of the birds by the pin feathers on the wings. The wing feathers are of different lengths on males, while on the females they are the same length on both rows.
After being counted and vaccinated, the birds are put into Tyson trucks and taken to the farm.
At Tyson Foods, we work with independent contract growers to raise the birds that go into our products. Approximately 6,800 farms across the country benefit from this working relationship. Growing chickens for Tyson is a stable source of income for family farms that would otherwise have to depend only on the financial ups and downs and unpredictability of other crops.
Tyson birds are raised in large houses that are designed to keep the birds as comfortable as possible. In the winter, thermostatically-controlled heaters keep the birds warm. In the summer, automatic fans and motor-driven curtains keep the air moving. Also, water misters overhead help keep the birds cool by using evaporation.
Automation also helps feed and water the chickens. Birds can drink from nipple drinkers that dispense water with a push of a button. Automatic feeders keep the specially-formulated feed coming when the birds begin to eat.
Everything here on the farm is designed with the quality of the final product in mind. Before houses are built, the soil is tested for contaminants. Each flock of birds is tested in a Tyson quality assurance laboratory for pesticide residue before processing.
Tyson takes animal well being very seriously. In fact, it is a key Tyson Core Value. Dr. Kellye Pfalzgraf, Tyson’s Director of Animal Well-Being, has the responsibility of creating and implementing programs to ensure animals are handled in a humane manner.
Four to six weeks after arriving on the farm, the chickens have reached processing weight and are ready to head to a Tyson processing facility, where the standards of quality continue.
Think of a Tyson processing plant as a big kitchen. In the old days, people raised their own animals, prepared them, and cooked them themselves. Today, Tyson Foods is proud to take on that role, adding convenience and quality to the process.
Many things are done to ensure the quality and safety of our plants and products. You would want your kitchen counters to be clean before you begin to cook, and we want our plants to be just as clean. In fact, you would have to do a lot of scrubbing to get your kitchen as clean as our plants!
Every day, a cleanup crew comes into our plants to wash every nook and cranny of our facilities and equipment. Special cleaning agents are sprayed onto every surface. After cleanup is complete, plant laboratory people check to see that the job has been done properly.
Just as we are concerned about the safety of our products, we are also very concerned about the safety of our people. We concentrate on providing a safe working environment for our more than 114,000 poultry Team Members.
We know our people are the key to our success, and we treat them well with an excellent benefits package and competitive wages.
But back to the plant...
After manufacturing, our products go to a Tyson distribution center or a similar outside facility for storage until a customer needs them. Then, a Tyson truck carries them to our customer, who gets them to you.