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Perdue Farms highlights animal welfare advancements

TAGS: Business
Company commits to more chicken house windows and identifying alternate breeds.

Perdue Farms announced this week that it continues its collaborative and transparent journey to change the way it raises chickens -- a move the company says addresses growing public concerns over broiler chicken welfare.

On July 11-12, Perdue will bring together animal care experts, Perdue farmers, representatives of animal welfare advocacy groups such as The Humane Society of the United States and Compassion in World Farming, animal care researchers and leading retail and foodservice customers such as Blue Apron and Wegmans at the third Annual Perdue Animal Care Summit to share updates on the company's advancements in animal care and gather feedback from the groups. The event coincides with the release of the “2018 Perdue Commitments to Animal Care Report.”

In 2016, Perdue introduced its Commitments to Animal Care program, which it said was precedent-setting not only because a major poultry company was making significant changes to its welfare practices but because Perdue was collaborating with animal welfare advocacy groups.

The “2018 Perdue Commitments to Animal Care Report” continues that progress with several key initiatives, including:

  • Committing to adding windows to 100% of chicken houses after Perdue's research demonstrated that chickens benefit from natural light;
  • Identifying alternative breeds that meet the demand for customers who want higher-welfare chickens;
  • Recommitting to better relationships with the farmers who raise chickens for Perdue, incentives that reward not just productivity but also welfare outcomes and a farmers-only website that includes a Farmer Relationship Index score;
  • Moving to higher-welfare, controlled-atmosphere stunning and a first-in-the-U.S. system to reduce stress and improve bird comfort during catching, transport and at the harvest plant, and
  • Increasing transparency by publishing audit results and reporting on animal care incidents.

Company chairman Jim Perdue said, "We also promised increased transparency and building trust with 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." 

Those efforts continue to earn recognition from animal welfare advocates, the company reported.

"We are heartened that Perdue keeps making measurable, meaningful progress to improve the lives of chickens," said Leah Garces, USA director for Compassion in World Farming. "Perdue keeps rising to the challenge of making better-welfare chicken available to any customer." 

That progress ranked Perdue among the top 15% of companies in the global 2017 Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare.

"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," said Josh Balk, vice president of farm animal protection at The Humane Society of the United States.

Perdue added, "We moved beyond the basics of food, water, shelter and protection from disease to consider not only what chickens need but what they want."

The company is basing its changes on The Five Freedoms, a globally accepted standard for animal welfare. "Since 2016, we've seen more companies talking about the Five Freedoms, but embracing the Five Freedoms takes more than talk; it takes change," Perdue said.

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