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Brazilian companies slightly improve animal welfare

2 Brazilian animal protein companies have improved animal welfare policies in 2020, according to the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW).

Marfrig and Aurora climbed one level whilst 3 others (BRF, JBS and Minerva) kept their ranks. Minerva and Marfrig are focused just on beef, while JBS, BRF, and Aurora produce poultry and pigs. BBFAW evaluates companies with score rankings from 1 (best animal welfare policies) to 6 (worst performance). 5 Brazilian slaughterhouses were scored: Marfrig (grade 2), BRF, JBS, Minerva, (grade 3) and Aurora (grade 4).

One of the welfare measures is the move to cage-free layer housing systems. Photo: Bert Jansen
One of the welfare measures is the move to cage-free layer housing systems. Photo: Bert Jansen

Survey executed with support of animal welfare organisations

The survey, which is in its 9 year after launch, is executed with support of the World Animal Protection and Compassion in World Farming organisations and include 150 global food companies. One of the highlights of the survey is that Latin America has evolved more than North America did in 2020. Improvements have been made in practices such as prophylactic use of antibiotics and cage-free production. According to José Rodolfo Ciocca, manager of sustainable agriculture at World Animal Protection, this was the first time Latin American companies have advanced more than their North American peers. “We need to work with more ethical and sustainable systems in the production chains,” he says.

The future of bird welfare
According to a leading animal welfare behaviour specialist, greater use of on-farm hatcheries will reduce the stress of young chicks, which has an adverse effect on growth and mortality rates.

Brazilian companies at level 3 and 4

JBS, which owns Seara, kept their level 3 classification, just as they did last year. According to the company, they invested R$ 162.8 million (US$ 28.39 million) in animal welfare improvements in Brazil and trained more than 27,000 people on the subject last year. In its poultry production chain, Seara has invested in modernisation and air conditioning of layer houses, expansion or replacement of infrastructure, totaling 1 million m² for breeding stock, and cage-free layer housing. With a score of 4, Aurora ended up as the worst ranked among Brazilian companies. At the BBFAW of 2021, the Santa Catarina cooperative central was invited to clarify some practices, such as reducing or avoiding the routine use of antibiotics.