2018 Sustainability Report

Innovations in Animal Welfare

We’re committed to innovative research in critical areas of animal welfare across the meat industry supply chain.

Piloting New Technology

We partner with a variety of professionals, academic institutions and industry groups to advance animal agricultural research and best practices for animal welfare throughout the industry. In 2018, we increased dedicated funding for research projects in animal welfare. These projects focus on potential animal welfare improvements in animal mobility and lameness, antibiotic alternatives, traceability and best practices in production management.

Over the past 12 months, we’ve invested more than $742,000 in research initiated by universities, agricultural organizations or companies. In addition to the external research that we support, we constantly seek out and pilot the latest innovations in animal welfare best practices within our own operations.

Following are highlights from new technologies we piloted or further explored in FY2018:

Controlled Atmosphere Stunning

We continued our Fresh Meats research into an alternative stunning method, Controlled Atmosphere Stunning (CAS), as a more humane harvesting technique. Instead of electricity, CAS uses carbon dioxide to render the animal unconscious and insensible to pain in advance of harvesting. In 2018, we established a second pilot focused on CAS stunning, expanding testing beyond our turkey plant and four of our pork plants to include two poultry plants.

Lighting Systems for Chickens

We continued our research on lighting, enrichment and density of poultry, to identify preferred chicken lighting systems based on performance and physiological metrics. Initial research indicated that chickens prefer to eat in bright light and move to dimmer areas for rest. Neurological markers suggest a gradient lighting system may provide a more satisfactory environment for the chickens than high-intensity lighting alone. We’re also expanding our lighting trials to commercial houses as we continue to identify the best system to provide lighting for broilers.

Tylan & Roughage Experiment on Finishing Cattle

We completed a research study to examine the impacts of removing tylosin (Tylan), an antibiotic and bacteriostatic feed additive, from finishing cattle by studying the performance of roughage on cattle growth, carcass characteristics, and prevalence of liver abscesses. Roughage is the fibrous indigestible material in vegetable foodstuffs that aids the passage of food and waste products through the gut. The study concluded that, despite the relatively low occurrence of liver abscesses in the negative control steers, both Tylan and increased dietary roughage was effective for controlling abscesses. However, cattle fed increased corn stalks consumed more feed, gained less weight and had inferior DMI (dry matter intake): ADG (average daily gain) than cattle fed corn stalks in conjunction with Tylan. In summary, increased dietary roughage was able to compensate for Tylan removal for the control of liver abscesses, but cattle failed to fully compensate for lower dietary energy and produce similar weights to those fed Tylan.


Sustainable Beef

In 2018, we continued our collaboration with McDonald’s USA, Noble Research Institute, Beef Marketing Group (BMG) and Golden State Foods on a two-year pilot research project aimed at improving sustainability across the beef value chain, testing metrics established by the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef (USRSB) and exploring scalable solutions for beef production.

CattleTrace Pilot Project

The ability to trace cattle disease is critical to overall biosecurity, as well as resuming business in the event of a disease outbreak. The development of a viable end-to-end cattle disease traceability system is a top priority across the U.S. beef industry, with several organizations in dialogue about the potential structure and implications to producers and industry stakeholders. In 2018, the CattleTrace pilot project for animal disease traceability launched in Kansas as a collaborative partnership between Tyson Foods, Kansas State University, the Kansas Livestock Association, the Kansas Department of Agriculture, USDA and other stakeholders.

Gifts to Build New Research Facility

Together with Merck Animal Health, we provided a $500,000 gift to Texas A&M University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences’ Poultry Science department to build a new Biological Safety Level-II (BSL-II) research facility in 2018. The laboratory will enhance A&M’s research, outreach and educational capacity to advance the field of poultry science. Scientists will focus on solving intestinal health issues in poultry.

In addition, we gave a $100,000 gift to Wilkes Community College to build the Tyson Foods Sustainable Animal Science Lab, which will house approximately 500 chickens as well as state-of-the-art equipment to train students with hands-on experience.

new research facility

Animal Welfare Education at our Facilities

We advance animal welfare education by providing the use of our facilities and expertise in animal welfare auditing, in cooperation with our supply chain, as well as customers, academics and audit firms. This enables external stakeholders and individuals to gain professional animal auditor certification through the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO).

We also open our doors to undergraduate and graduate students in animal science for educational opportunities, providing a place to evaluate welfare dynamics similar to those in the North American Meat Institute’s recommended animal handling guidelines. Our facilities also serve as locations for various supply chain and customer educational events focused on animal welfare policies and practices, where the renowned Dr. Temple Grandin acts as a training partner.

Whats in a Number?

Excellence, efficiency and innovation for starters. For The Pork Group (TPG), a Tyson subsidiary in Oklahoma that raises hogs for our pork operations, performance measurement and data analysis is helping their effort to sustainably feed the world. Here’s a sampling of the numbers that tell a compelling story of progress at TPG:

  • TPG veterinarians perform welfare program assessments at nearly every site they visit each week. In 2018, 736 audits were recorded in fiscal 2018 from which data is downloaded and analyzed for ongoing opportunity trends.
  • Third-party animal welfare audits averaged a 98.53 percent score last year, besting a three-year average of 96.4 percent.
  • Medication and vaccine spending were reduced 40 percent from 2018 to 2017 due to improved animal health.
  • Progress in genetic breeding programs and research has equated to 1,011 fewer acres of corn and 850 fewer acres of soybeans needed to raise the same amount of market hog pounds annually. That efficiency translates into measurable improvements in land use and conservation.
  • Injury rates among workers have been reduced every year for four consecutive years, including a 
    45 percent decrease from FY2017 to FY2018.

TPG also stays on the leading front of research through partnerships with Oklahoma State University, Pipestone (MN) Veterinary Clinic, United Animal Health and various other university and private swine-related companies in areas of swine health, management and care, nutrition and genetic advancement.

Incubation Technology Center

We continue to operate our 75,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Incubation Technology Center in Springdale, Arkansas, our main supplier of chicks for our northwest Arkansas broiler chicken and Cornish hen operations. The center’s advanced incubation technology allows for reduced handling of animals through the use of robotic arms, which perform repetitive tasks that reduce the risk of strain and muscle fatigue for our team members.

The center is equipped with the latest in advanced technology in biosecurity, including high-tech internal environmental controls and ventilation to ensure that fresh air is continuously circulated throughout.