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Animal Welfare
Animal Welfare

Our mission is to deliver on our purpose to raise the world’s expectations for how much good food can do by continuously improving the welfare of the animals entrusted to our care.

Our vision is to be the world leader in animal welfare through compassionate care based in sound science. Accomplishing this vision requires the efforts not just of our team members who have daily interactions with animals but also includes engagement with our senior leadership team.

Our Corporate Office of Animal Welfare (OAW), led by Vice President of Welfare and International Sustainability, Ken Opengart DVM, PhD, is dedicated exclusively to animal welfare. The OAW is comprised of passionate team members who work diligently to guide and support our business units and supply partners in reinforcing our commitment to responsible animal care and handling while driving continuous improvement throughout our supply chain.

To further enhance this effort, each of our facilities that harvest animals in the U.S., including chicken, turkey, beef and pork plants, is directly supported by a professionally trained animal welfare specialist. These specialists conduct internal audits of our facilities and provide service, assistance and expertise to our team members about animal welfare. Specialists are embedded in the day-to-day operations at each facility, serving as resources for our operation teams and plant managers. They also serve as advocates for the animals themselves and work to enhance our animal welfare culture and awareness throughout our facilities.

This team was the first in the industry to be certified as Internal Auditors by PAACO. The continuous education required of our specialists annually to keep their certification makes them a critical resource on animal welfare across our entire company. Due to this extensive knowledge, specialists also support and lead team member training on animal handling and welfare.

Our animal welfare specialists also gather each year at a Welfare Summit to collaborate with their peers on various animal welfare opportunities they have identified at the facilities they support. Since 2018, more than 77 animal welfare improvement projects have been presented and best practices shared during these working sessions.

Our vertically integrated systems allow our poultry welfare specialists to also support the FarmCheck® program through supplemental internal auditing of essential parts of the animal handling process on our contract poultry farms in the U.S. They monitor animal welfare on-farm, assisting farmers in complying with animal welfare policies and regulations.

Animal Welfare Advisory Panel

Our Animal Welfare Advisory Panel not only provides guidance on current animal welfare topics, but also helps us:

  • determine ways to improve our FarmCheck® program;
  • advises us on research priorities and projects;
  • alerts us to emerging issues or technologies that may affect our industry and business; and
  • helps us understand proactive approaches we can take to address areas such as ethical issues, consumer interests, and new research and technologies.

The Panel’s direction helps to ensure we’re taking a leadership position on the most relevant and critical areas of animal welfare.

The intent of the Panel is to maintain a balanced dialogue that includes experts from across various fields, including academia, regulatory, producers and scientists, to bring a diversity of perspectives on animal behavior, health, welfare, production and ethics. Meetings include sub-groups focused on each supply chain (beef, pork and poultry) to allow for more in-depth discussion and guidance that is relevant to the current challenges we face as a company today.

The Panel continues to help us identify potential gaps and opportunities for improvement in animal welfare, such as focusing our research on poultry lighting, environmental enrichments, facility design and animal housing.

Team Member Training

Our culture is grounded in comprehensive animal welfare training and accountability. Team members are required to report any acts of abuse immediately to their supervisor or by calling our third-party, anonymous ethics and compliance hotline available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Our expert animal welfare specialists provide comprehensive animal welfare training to every team member that comes in contact with live animals. This consists of training prior to entry, tests to ensure understanding of proper techniques, and confirmation of agreement to comply with animal welfare requirements. Those in positions that require live animal handling—including catch crews, livestock haulers and team members in breeding, grow-out houses and harvest facilities—complete more extensive animal welfare training in advance of interacting with live animals. This expectation also extends to any team member, visitor or supplier who may have intermittent or limited access to live animal handling areas. In addition, the animal welfare specialists receive continuous education and in turn, pass those learnings on to the team members responsible for handling animals as well as the plant facility animal welfare committee.

In 2019, we also offered education on the ethics of animal welfare—not just what we do, but why it matters. Dr. Dorothy McKeegan, an animal welfare expert from the University of Glasgow and member of Tyson Foods’ Animal Welfare Advisory Panel, gave a two-day course on animal welfare ethics. The intent of this course was not to persuade, but rather aid our animal welfare specialists, managers and OAW leadership team in understanding the fundamental beliefs about animals that shape thoughts and actions both personally and as an enterprise.

Tyson Foods also advances animal welfare education beyond our community of team members. We provide access to our facilities and expertise in animal welfare auditing, in cooperation with our supply chain, as well as customers, academics and audit firms. This enables external stakeholders and individuals to gain professional animal auditor certification through PAACO. We open our doors to undergraduate and graduate students in animal science for educational opportunities, providing a place to evaluate welfare practices. Our facilities also serve as locations for various supply chain and customer educational events focused on animal welfare policies and practices.