We depend on animals for our livelihood, and believe in the humane stewardship of them. All Tyson Foods team members and independent farmers are expected to house their poultry, cattle and hogs in comfortable environments consistent with industry best practices and guidelines.
We work with thousands of independent farmers every day who help raise the animals we use to produce safe, nutritious food for people all over the world. Treating the animals responsibly and with respect starts with where they’re housed.
Raising birds right
On the farm, birds are kept in enclosed barns to protect them from bad weather, extreme temperatures, diseases, and predators. No cages are used and birds can move freely within the barn. Stocking density, the number of birds within the available space in the barn, is carefully calculated to comply with national standards and to ensure that all birds can easily move to access feed and water and to express normal behavior.
Barns are equipped with specially designed equipment to deliver a balanced feed ration and fresh water to ensure the birds receive the correct nutritional requirements to meet the growth and production needs throughout their lives.
Giving cattle the space they need
While we don’t own any cattle growing or finishing facilities, we do require all of our beef producers to participate in Beef Quality Assurance (BQA), a national program that provides guidelines for beef cattle production, educational programs, and industry cooperation for improving best practices. BQA’s guidelines state cattle must be offered adequate space for comfort, socialization and environmental management. Pens are maintained for proper drainage and dust control.
We also support the Livestock Marketing Association’s (LMA) Guide to Animal Handling. Their suggested guidelines are to provide adequate pen space and secure footing for animals. For large animals in overnight pens, animals should have space to lie down. For large animals in day pens, animals should have room to stand with heads down. Increased access to water, sprinklers, and shade, should be provided as conditions change to prevent overheating.
Better housing for better pigs
Unlike some of our competitors, we rely almost entirely on independent farmers to sell us the pigs we need for our pork plants. We support continuous improvement in the way farmers manage their pigs, including the type of housing they use for pregnant mother pigs, known as sows. We have encouraged them to focus on the quality and quantity of the space for pregnant sows when they remodel or build new barns.
As of December 2017, 45% of the sows from our contract sow farmers are housed in open pens. We expect that number to grow to 58% by the end of calendar year 2018.