Further animal welfare commitments have been introduced by broiler giant Perdue, challenging the status quo on how the majority of chickens are raised in the United States.
Perdue introduced its Commitments to Animal Care programme three years ago and this week announced several key initiatives, including:
• Committing to adding windows to 100% of chicken houses following research which demonstrated that chickens benefit from natural light
• Identifying alternative breed that meet the demand for customers who want higher welfare chickens
• Moving to higher-welfare, controlled atmosphere stunning, and a first-in-the-US system to reduce stress and improve bird comfort during catching, transport and at the harvest plant
• Increasing transparency by publishing audit results and reporting on animal care incidents
• Recommitting to better relationships with its farmers, including a welfare outcome reward and a farmers only website, including a farmer relationship index score
Photo: Reina De Vries
The announcement came during two days of talks between the company and representatives from animal welfare groups, researchers, retailers and food service customers at the third annual Perdue Animal Care Summit.
Chairman Jim Perdue said: “We also promised increased transparency and building trust with our stakeholders, which is why we continue to host our Animal Care Summit. The input from these partners at the Summit will help Perdue continue to identify and implement changes that have a quantifiable impact on welfare improvements for its chickens.”
Fourth generation poultry farmer Alvin Warner, from Delaware, said he had been growing chickens for 41 years and was proud that the company was taking the lead on animal care.
The move welcomed by Josh Balk, vice president of farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States, said: “Perdue is reflecting consumer sentiment that all animals – including farm animals – should be protected from pain by their work to address these issues in a meaningful, transparent and collaborative way.”
Leah Garces, USA Compassion in World Farming director, said she was impressed that Perdue was rising to the challenge of making better-welfare chicken available to any customer.
Perdue received recognition last Autumn when it was ranked among the top 15% of companies in the global 2017 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare.