Tyson Foods has long been committed to animal well-being and has had formal programs in place for some time. We believe proper animal handling is an important moral and ethical obligation we owe to our suppliers, customers, ourselves and, most of all, to the animals we depend on for our products and our livelihood.
Tyson was the first U.S. poultry company to establish an Office of Animal Well-Being. It is managed by Dr. Kellye Pfalzgraf, a veterinarian who has more than 30 years of experience in the livestock industry and has received training from various animal welfare specialists including Dr. Temple Grandin, who has conducted audits at a number of Tyson plants.
Animal well-being is part of Tyson’s Core Values, which call on the company’s Team Members to “serve as stewards of the animals, land and environment entrusted to us.”
We have developed and implemented animal well-being programs for our chicken, beef, and pork businesses. They include:
-Internal audits by live production and quality assurance professionals
-Training and monitoring of Team Members as they work with the animals
-Inspection of facilities used for housing, staging, and handling of animals
-Independent third-party validation and review of operations and facilities
In addition to plant site functions and activities, we also cooperatively engage and train our live-haul personnel and independent chicken producers to further promote and provide conditions that support animal well-being.
Because we purchase beef and most of our pork from independent suppliers, we have less control of these animals’ well-being prior to processing. However, we still strive to ensure their well-being is maintained from the farm to our facilities. For example:
-We buy only healthy animals.
-We provide manuals that outline good management and well-being practices to the drivers who transport livestock to our plants.
-We have management positions certified to train swine truckers in the Trucker Quality Assurance program developed and managed by the National Pork Board.
Educating Team Members on the company’s expectations, standards, and practices is a key component of our approach to animal well-being. Team Members who routinely work with live birds in Tyson chicken processing and hatchery facilities must complete initial training and be recertified every 12 months by attending a review session.
The training covers proper handling of birds during transport, maintaining adequate ventilation and temperatures for bird well-being, effective stunning of birds, and avoiding injuries to birds, among other topics. To demonstrate understanding, Team Members must pass a written test and sign an agreement to comply with the company’s bird well-being requirements.
In our beef and pork division, Team Members who work with live animals, as well as managers and supervisors working in these areas, are required to be Tyson Foods certified Trained Animal Handlers.
Certification requires successful completion of a class in animal handling and stunning practices, a written test to demonstrate mastery of the class material, and signing an agreement to comply with the company’s animal wellbeing requirements. Handlers must be recertified every 12 months. Posters and signs throughout all Tyson facilities constantly remind Team Members of our commitment to proper animal handling.
To evaluate the effectiveness of our animal well-being training and to ensure Team Members are following procedures and practices correctly, we routinely audit all Tyson plants. For chicken processing facilities and hatcheries, bird well-being audits are conducted using protocols developed in conjunction with the National Chicken Council animal well-being guidelines. Auditors inspect birds for injury during transportation and handling, and observe handlers to ensure humane treatment of birds. Audits are performed on a weekly basis by the plant management and Team Members, and monthly by our quality assurance staff (processing facilities) or live production managers (hatcheries). Tyson’s in-house veterinarians are also trained in proper animal handling procedures.
For beef and pork processing plants, Tyson has developed an audit program using the American Meat Institute animal well-being guidelines. Audits are performed weekly by plant management and monthly by our quality assurance staff. In our beef and pork operations, the plant manager also performs an in-depth animal well-being audit twice yearly. Yard supervisors conduct quarterly yard condition and trucker transportation audits. In addition, USDA evaluates our well-being practices on a continual basis. Many customers, or professional auditing companies representing them, conduct independent annual audits of animal well-being at our chicken, beef, and pork facilities.