October 18, 2023
Perdue Farms recently hosted its eighth annual Animal Care Summit near its Salisbury, Maryland headquarters. The annual event plays an integral role in the company’s animal care strategy, with this year’s summit focused on reaffirming the importance of, and Perdue’s commitment to, “No Antibiotics Ever” (NAE) practices.
“In 2002, we listened to consumers and made the decision to transform our company in order to remove all antibiotics from Perdue products. To accomplish that, we needed to enhance our animal care practices, ultimately benefitting the health, environment, and quality of our chickens,” said Dr. Bruce Stewart-Brown, Perdue’s senior vice president of technical services and innovation and veterinarian who is helping guide Perdue’s approach to animal care. “Using antibiotics for preventive care can be a crutch, and we firmly believe a better, more sustainable approach is to provide better care, and stop covering up poor environmental conditions and bad practices.”
Drew Getty, vice president of environmental sustainability at Perdue Farms, said the summit allows the company to share its progress and challenges, including the balance of advancing animal care practices while leveraging vertical integration to improve environmental impacts across the supply chain.
“We’re proud of our long legacy of animal care, which dates back to the company’s founding in 1920. It’s not always the easy way, but it’s the Perdue way,” he said.
This year, summit attendees, including farmers, retailers, and animal advocates, experienced an interactive farm tour for an inside look at how Perdue is investing in the future, including:
A first-ever look into the future of chicken house enrichments, an innovative advancement that shows how enrichments can provide space improvements, giving chickens the opportunity to move beyond the floor of the chicken house.
A deep dive into on-farm hatcheries, showcasing the positive benefits of this unique practice and the interesting research behind Perdue’s strategy.
An interactive chicken feed demonstration, transparently explaining the benefits of the nutritious, all vegetarian, no-antibiotic-ever feed that is given to every Perdue chicken.
Dr. Stewart-Brown, Dr. Lance Price, professor at George Washington University, and Dr. Michelle Kromm, principal at FoodForward LLC, offered an in-depth look at the state of antibiotics in livestock, including roadblocks to curbing unnecessary use and the implications of overuse, from diminished efficacy of antibiotics for humans to lessened ability to treat sick animals. The panel also emphasized the importance of working closely with veterinarians to bring solutions to the broader animal agriculture industry.
In addition, attendees heard from experts on a variety of topics, including the Better Chicken Commitment and our research into slower growing breeds. Perdue presented the results of a 26-flock trial involving side by side houses comparing the current commercial breed compared to a GAP/BCC compliant slower growing breed. This trial also included a Life Cycle Assessment comparing the carbon footprint of these two breeds.
A worldwide expert on avian influenza, Dr. David Swayne helped the audience understand the current state of avian influenza. His comments included the disease’s history as well as what might be expected in the coming year.
Perdue’s annual Animal Care Summit highlighted the company’s transparency in its practices to key stakeholders by showing its progress to its Commitments to Animal Care program established in 2016.
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