Our Corporate Office of Animal Welfare (OAW), led by Senior Director Dr. Karen Christensen, is dedicated exclusively to animal welfare. The OAW is comprised of passionate team members who work diligently to ensure we act responsibly about the care and treatment of the animals in our supply chain.
Our OAW also includes our Animal Welfare Specialists. At the completion of FY2018, we had 53 animal welfare specialists on staff – one for each of our facilities that harvest animals in the U.S., including chicken, cattle, turkey and swine processing plants. These specialists conduct internal audits of our facilities, provide service, assistance and expertise to Tyson team members about animal welfare. Specialists are embedded in the day-to-day operations at each facility, acting as a liaison between our operation teams and plant managers, as well as serving as advocates for the animals themselves.
This team, both in Poultry and Fresh Meats (which includes our beef and pork operations), were the first in the industry to be certified as Internal Auditors by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (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 participate in and lead team member training on animal handling and welfare.
As an example of their dedication to ensuring alignment with our high level of animal welfare standards, animal welfare specialists partnered with operational teams to identify and target an animal welfare opportunity specific to their location. Projects were completed that evaluated several different welfare opportunities from different perspectives within the production scope. Some involved hatcheries, processing plants, farms or transportation. All of them brought knowledge, perspective and illustrated that animal welfare priorities and profitability are not mutually exclusive, but rather synergistic.
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 U.S. poultry farms. In addition, they also monitor animal welfare on-farm, assisting farmers in complying with animal welfare policies and regulations.