2018 Sustainability Report

Animal Welfare Approach

We’re committed to offering consumers the most humanely raised food possible

Fostering A Culture That Supports Animal Welfare

We’ve built an internal culture of caring about animals and delivering excellence in animal welfare is inherent to who we are as an organization. This applies not just to our team members who have daily interaction with animals, but extends all the way up to our senior leadership team.

animal welfare

improving chicken living conditions

Improving Poultry Living Conditions, Together

Tammy Karr, the animal welfare specialist at our Noel, Missouri, chicken complex, identified – through auditing – an opportunity to improve the paw conditions of the birds that she was charged with monitoring. Tammy partnered with the complex’s live production team to identify a specific test farm and to develop a specific water line management plan that targeted improved floor conditions.

The result produced harvested birds with not only improved paw condition, but also more marketable product. This is a win-win scenario as it leads to a better life for the bird and better income for the farmer. In addition to the results specific to that farm and location, the project provided information that can be utilized at other locations and farms to replicate the success.

An Office Dedicated to Animal Welfare

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.

panel meeting group

Training and Communication

Our animal welfare culture is grounded in training and feedback mechanisms that encourage team members to report unacceptable treatment of animals. Our expert animal welfare specialists provide high-level animal welfare training to every team member that comes in contact with live animals. Those in positions that require live animal handling – including catch crews, livestock haulers, and team members in breeding and grow-out houses and plants – complete more extensive animal welfare training in advance of interacting with live animals.

Animal Welfare in our International Operations

We’re dedicated to improving visibility into our international supply chain and continuing to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the animal welfare impacts in our operations in India and China. In these markets, animal welfare practices are overseen by our veterinary staff, who make regular visits to monitor facilities. Our veterinary staff help us prioritize research efforts for all species; continue to guide direction of our FarmCheck on farm audit program; and help us understand what is in the pipeline within each respective area and how we can be proactive in addressing them, such as customer demands, ethical issues and new research and innovation.

Any poultry we raise or purchase in India, and China are pre-stunned before slaughter. The impact of FY2018 acquisitions on animal welfare in our international operations is currently under evaluation.

lady and a pig


Animal Welfare Mission Statement

Team with Temple Grandin



Member Bios

Animal Welfare Advisory Panel

Our Animal Welfare Advisory Panel provides guidance on current animal welfare affairs; helps us determine ways to improve our FarmCheck® program; advises us on research priorities and projects; and alerts us to emerging issues or technologies that may affect our industry and business. 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 has always been to maintain a balanced dialogue that includes experts from across various fields, including academia, producers and scientists, to bring a diversity of perspectives on animal behavior, health, welfare, production and ethics. In 2018, we added several new members to ensure the panel was representative of these different backgrounds and expertise. We also restructured meetings to allow for more in-depth discussion and guidance that is relevant to the current challenges we face as a company today. We did so through the facilitation of sub-groups focused on each supply chain – beef, pork and poultry. The panel continues to help us identify potential gaps and opportunities for improvement in animal welfare, such as focusing our research on poultry lighting enrichments, streamlining transportation logistics, facility design and animal housing. This panel also helps us prioritize research efforts for cattle and hogs; continues to guide our FarmCheck program; and helps us understand proactive approaches we can take to address areas such as ethical issues, consumer interests, and new research and technologies.