US-based poultry giant Perdue Farms has become the latest American company to announce further animal welfare improvements.
Perdue Farms said this week that it would continue to progress its adoption of the Five Freedoms, a globally accepted standard for animal husbandry. Specific advances will include research into fully enclosed, climate-controlled de-stress staging areas for birds arriving at the slaughterhouse.
The company, the fourth largest poultry business in the US, will also continue its work with slower-growing broiler breeds and carry out further implementation of controlled atmosphere stunning.
Announcing the moves ahead of its Animal Care Summit, Perdue Farms chair Jim Perdue said: “We know that trust is earned by responding to consumers and other stakeholders, and that includes a willingness to make significant changes.
“It’s not easy and it requires commitment, resources and time. But people expect more from Perdue, and we have to keep improving.”
The announcement follows the recent move, reported in Poultry World, by Tyson Foods to improve its poultry welfare. Perdue Farms last year became the first major poultry company to promise its current and future customers a sustainable supply of chicken that meets all the animal welfare criteria outlined in the “Joint Animal Agency Statement on Broiler Chicken Welfare Issues.”
The standards, agreed by a coalition of nine advocacy groups, match many of the changes Perdue was already exploring as part of its animal care programme.
• Giving chickens more space, more light during the day and longer lights-off periods for rest;
• Increasing the number of chicken houses with windows;
• Continuing to study the role of enrichments in encouraging active behaviour;
• Strengthening relationships with farmers.
Josh Balk, Humane Society of the United States farm animal protection vice-president, applauded Perdue for focusing its improvements on the core areas of concern.
“Their holistic approach demonstrates all that’s possible in creating better lives for billions of chickens.”
Leah Garces, Compassion in World Farming executive director, added: “We commend Perdue’s commitment to meet the rapidly growing demands for higher welfare chicken. Not only is it the right thing to do for the birds but it’s the right thing to do for the business given the certain direction of the market.
“Their transformation and willingness to collaborate, be transparent and continually do better makes them a pioneer among poultry producers,” she added.