The US poultry business, Perdue Foods, has announced a “renewed focus” on animal care, launching a four-part plan designed to accelerate its progress in animal care, strengthen relationships with farmers, build trust with multiple stakeholder groups and create an animal care culture for continued improvement.
The new plan has been developed with input from farmers, academics and leaders of animal organisations, all of whom were invited by Perdue to help shape its “progressive” creation of new industry standards.
“As we continue to learn about innovative and better ways to raise animals through our ‘No Antibiotics Ever’ journey and our experience in raising organic chickens, we are adopting the four-part plan which will result in changing how we raise chickens,” said group chairman, Jim Perdue.
The new plan commits the company to the following:
- The wants and needs of the animals. Based on “The Five Freedoms”, an internationally recognised standard for animal husbandry, Perdue’s commitment document lays out where the company is today on each of the five aspects as well as future goals. For instance, the majority of chickens today are raised in fully enclosed barns without natural light. Perdue is committed to retrofitting 200 chicken houses with windows by the end of 2016 to compare bird health and activity to enclosed housing.
- The farmers that raise the chickens. Appreciating that chickens spend most of their time in the care of farmers, the plan stresses improved relationships with farmers. This includes creating an open dialogue about best practices in animal care, considering the farmer’s well-being and connecting animal care to pay and incentives.
- Openness, transparency and trust. The plan also calls for Perdue to be open to criticism of its current policies and procedures when deserved, share information about animal care initiatives, and proactively engage with a wide variety of animal welfare stakeholders, including advocates, academics and animal care experts.
- A journey of continuous improvement. The fourth part of the plan commits to ongoing learning and advancements in the company’s animal care programs to ensure the health and well-being of its birds through next-generation initiatives. This commitment will be driven by Perdue’s animal care council, which has been in place for more than 15 years.
“We are only just getting started,” said Mr Perdue. “Our animal care plan is not a static document; it is an ongoing journey focused on learning, listening and responding to further advance how we care for animals as well as how we will continue to strengthen our relationship with the farmers who raise our chickens.”