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 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.
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 portion and fresh water to ensure the birds receive the correct nutritional requirements to meet the growth and production needs throughout their lives. The floor of a typical barn is covered with plant-based recyclable materials, such as wood shavings or rice hulls. The barns also use automatic equipment to provide lighting and ventilation to maintain a climate-controlled environment that is suitable for the bird’s age.
Approximately 31% of our chickens grown for special product lines such as Cornish are raised in houses with a maximum stocking density equal to or less than 6.5 lbs. per square foot.
In fiscal 2018, we surveyed a group of our suppliers that make up more than 80-percent of the money we spend with third parties to purchase chicken, beef, pork and dairy. Based on a 72-percent response rate, we learned the chicken meat we procure is from birds raised in open barns.
Housing of cattle
While we don’t own any cattle growing or finishing facilities, 100-percent of the cattle we source are raised in open pens. Additionally, we established a goal that requires all of our beef producers to be Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) trained by 2019. BQA is 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.
Parts of our company rely on dairy to produce their final food products. In fiscal 2018, we surveyed a group of our suppliers that make up more than 80-percent of the money we spend with third parties to purchase chicken, beef, pork and dairy. Based on a 72-percent response rate, we learned more than 60-percent of our dairy suppliers provide enrichments for their cattle, such as brushes and other items cattle can rub against.
Housing for pigs
Unlike some of our competitors, we rely almost entirely on independent farmers to sell us the pigs we need for our pork plants. 100-percent of the market hogs we procure are raised in open pens.
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 55% by the end of calendar year 2018. Additionally, in fiscal 2018, we surveyed a group of our suppliers that make up more than 80-percent of the money we spend with third parties to purchase chicken, beef, pork and dairy. Based on a 72-percent response rate, we learned the pork meat we procure is from hogs that are monitored by a health plan developed by a veterinarian.