Perdue Farms recently hosted its fifth annual Animal Care Summit, held virtually this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. During the meeting, the company provided a progress update on its current animal care commitments and also announced a number of new initiatives it plans for next year.
“Now in our company’s 100th year, we are proud to continue making advancements and leading our industry in the standards to which we raise our animals,” said Mark McKay, president of Perdue poultry and meat. “Strong animal husbandry and stewardship keep our animals healthier and, importantly, we believe, translate to a better product for consumers.”
At the meeting, Perdue subject-matter experts shared the latest updates on the company’s industry-leading animal welfare goals and initiatives, including:
- Raising more than 25% of chickens with outdoor access;
- Testing the feasibility and benefits of on-farm hatching to improve early chicken care;
- Collaborating on a first-of-its-kind animal welfare research with an animal advocacy group, and
- Opening three Poultry Learning Centers, which are viewing farms that offer an interactive experience for visitors to learn about poultry farming and proper animal care.
Perdue also announced 10 new initiatives it will implement in 2021, including:
- Working to identify the top three issues in "heavy birds”;
- Researching the welfare implications of raising birds of different ages, growth rates, feather color and other factors in the same flock;
- Researching on-farm hatching;
- Researching the animal care advantages of getting chicks to feed and water faster;
- Holding a second “Free Range Pasture Contest”;
- Testing an early chick water supplement for nutritional and stress support;
- Determining one method to describe and measure success in getting free-range birds to utilize pasture;
- Reducing culls in the two- to four-week time period by 15%;
- Introducing a Young Farmer Development group, and
- Expanding Animal Care Incentives, which can generate more revenue for farmers, to a second operation.
Perdue’s Animal Care program now includes nearly 70 initiatives within the company’s four-part plan to accelerate its progress in poultry care.