The vast majority of our U.S. harvest facilities are raised by independent producers. Through shared values to animal welfare, we emphasize responsible animal care and a focus on continuous improvement. This is demonstrated through proper care for pigs, provision of quality nutrition and other best practices as generally defined by Pork Quality Assurance PLUS (PQA Plus®) guidelines. In support of this, suppliers are required to maintain PQA Plus® training and certification, as well as participate in our FarmCheck® on farm verification program.
In support of this, preparation and management of site-specific protocols are essential not only for animal health and welfare, but the success of the operation in general. Each operation has standard operating procedures in place to effectively address the health, care, handling and overall welfare of the animals— as specified through PQA Plus® program. Accurate record-keeping and documentation of certain activities or processes demonstrate that the operation’s SOPs and management plan are being followed. Records also aid in the evaluation of the effectiveness of a site’s management strategy.
All farm caretakers have a responsibility to protect and promote the welfare of animals in their care. In addition to PQA Plus® training and certification, caretakers receive training on protocols specific to their duties, facilitating proper evaluation and prompt delivery of care necessary to address any animal health, facility or management issues.
Daily monitoring ensures that all animals have access to feed and water. High-quality feed that meets the nutritional needs of the hogs on a specific farm, is free of contaminants and adheres to any applicable requirements for added medications is essential for the welfare, growth and maintenance of pigs, as well as ensuring a safe and wholesome pork product.
The handling and moving of pigs is done by caretakers and transporters trained in basic pig behavior principles, using techniques appropriate for the age and condition of the animal(s). Piglet care and management plans are developed with consideration for the health, welfare and productivity of the herd—following recommendations and best practices established through PQA Plus® program and American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV). In general, procedures such as teeth clipping, tail docking, castration and identification methods such as ear notching should be performed only when necessary and early on to allow for proper healing prior to weaning. They should only be performed by trained individuals with appropriate and clean equipment/tools. Efforts remain underway throughout the industry to identify and develop practical, effective and legal pain mitigation options, at which point such methods will be supported. Globally, we do not knowingly purchase any genetically engineered animals or animal products for our processing operations.>
Timely euthanasia is critical to support animal welfare. In the U.S., every site should have a plan in place to address appropriate methods and equipment for euthanasia that complies with AASV On-Farm Euthanasia of Swine Guidelines. Caretakers should be trained in both performing euthanasia as well as determining when it is appropriate.
Beginning in 2007, we undertook the challenge of understanding how to successfully manage open pen or group gestation systems within our own live swine operations. As a result, we have increased the number of Tyson Foods-owned sows managed in open pen gestation systems. This was accomplished through the transition of several contract sow farms along with our company-owned sow farms to these systems. When including our independent supply partners, more than 20 percent of our total pork supply is derived from sows housed in open pen systems, which encompasses independent supply partners, contract sow farms and company-owned sow farms.