Research and Partnerships
Using the best scientific research available to us and under the guidance of our advisory board, we continue to explore new technologies to improve animal welfare in our supply chain. We also partner with researchers on potential animal welfare improvements in animal mobility and lameness, antibiotics alternatives, and good production management. Over the past 18 months, we have invested approximately $170,000 in research initiated by universities, agricultural organizations or companies. Below are example of new technologies we piloted in FY2017.
Updated Stunning Methods: We have piloted an alternative stunning method, Controlled Atmosphere Stunning (CAS), and currently are applying this technology in our turkey plant and two of our pork plants with plans to expand this to several more plants, including poultry, during FY2018. CAS has the potential to be a more humane harvesting technique by using carbon dioxide, rather than electricity, to render the animal unconscious and insensible to pain in advance of processing.
Future Housing Systems: We support our farming partners in learning new and improved ways of raising and managing their hogs, which we purchase. We began piloting additional housing systems for pregnant sows in FY2017, including open pen gestation. When farmers are building or rebuilding housing systems for sows, we urge them to consider open pen gestation as well since there are advantages to both systems. At the completion of calendar 2017, 45 percent of our sows from our contract farms are housed in open pens. Our target is 58 percent by the end of calendar 2018.
Lighting Project: Tyson Foods is conducting research to identify lighting systems that chickens prefer, both from a performance and physiological basis. Initial results across multiple light intensities, including one scenario where chickens choose a bright or dim light, suggest they prefer to eat in bright light and then move to dimmer areas for rest. Neurological markers in the birds indicate a gradient lighting system may provide a more satisfactory environment for the chickens than high-intensity lighting alone. Further exploration is needed and Tyson Foods maintains ongoing research on lighting as well as other management practices that promote animal welfare and natural behaviors.
Tylan and Roughage Experiment on Finishing Cattle: In December 2017, we completed a project to better understand the effects of removing tylosin, an antibiotic and bacteriostatic feed additive, from finishing cattle. This project focused on the performance of roughage (fibrous indigestible material in vegetable foodstuffs that aids the passage of food and waste products through the gut) on cattle growth, carcass characteristics, and prevalence of liver abscesses. Additional research is needed.
In addition to our research and funding we provide to animal welfare, in fiscal 2018, we surveyed a group of our suppliers that make up more than 80-percent of the money we spent with third parties on to purchase chicken, beef, pork and dairy.
Based on a 72-percent response rate, we learned that more than half of the suppliers who responded are investing in projects or research dedicated to advancing animal welfare.
We collaborate with various stakeholders, including academic institutions, industry groups and subject matter experts to advance innovative research in critical areas of animal welfare across the meat industry supply chain.
CattleTrace Pilot Project: Cattle disease traceability, a top priority in the U.S. beef cattle industry and an important component in overall biosecurity, plays a significant role in resuming and maintaining commerce in the event of a disease outbreak. The development of a viable end-to-end cattle disease traceability system is a key focus in the beef industry across the United States, with several organizations having conversations about the potential structure and the implications to producers and industry stakeholders. On June 30, 2018 the CattleTrace pilot project for animal disease traceability launched in Kansas as a collaborative partnership between Kansas State University, the Kansas Livestock Association, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, USDA and individual stakeholders, including Tyson Foods. Participation in this pilot supports Tyson’s mission of raising the world’s expectations for how much good food, including the industries and people who produce it, can do. For more information about CattleTrace, go to www.cattletrace.org.
Sustainable Beef Pilot: Tyson Foods, along with McDonald’s USA, Noble Research Institute, Beef Marketing Group (BMG), and Golden State Foods is participating in a two-year pilot research project that seeks to improve sustainability across the entire beef value chain, test metrics established by the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) and explore scalable solutions that could be applicable to beef production across the country.
$500,000 Gift to Build New Research Facility: Merck Animal Health and Tyson Foods provided a $500,000 gift to Texas A&M University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Poultry Science department to build a new research facility in June of 2018.
The laboratory represents an effort to enhance the school’s research, outreach and educational capacity to benefit the field of poultry science, the companies said. Scientists will focus on solving intestinal health issues in poultry at the new Biological Safety Level-II (BSL-II) facility.
Animal Welfare Education: We work in cooperation with our supply chain, as well as customers, academics and audit firms, to provide the use of our facilities and expertise in animal welfare auditing. This allows individuals outside of Tyson Foods to gain professional animal auditor certification through the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO).
We also provide learning opportunities at our facilities for university undergraduate and graduate students studying animal science. The use of our facilities provides them a place where they can evaluate welfare dynamics similar to those included in the North American Meat Institute recommended animal handling guidelines.
Additionally, our facilities also serve as locations for a variety of supply chain and customer educational events focused on animal welfare policies and practices, where Tyson Foods and our partners have the renowned Dr. Temple Grandin as a training partner.
In June 2017, we also hosted a Facebook Live video session on our Corporate Facebook Page. The sessions included a Tyson Foods animal welfare specialist, Tyson Foods veterinarian and a poultry farmer who offered viewers an opportunity to see first-hand how chickens are raised. Key topics discussed including housing conditions, animal nutrition, and humane handling and welfare.