2018 Sustainability Report

Welfare In The Value Chain

We’re committed to maintaining the highest animal welfare standards throughout our value chain and expect the same of our independent contract farmer partners.

Ensuring Animal Welfare In The Value Chain

We spend nearly $15 billion a year to buy cattle and pigs, as well as to pay farmers to raise poultry for us. We’re also one of the nation’s leading buyers of grain to feed poultry.

The relationship with our farmers is unique in many aspects. We don’t own many farms. All cattle and most pigs and poultry for our meat business come from independent  farmers, ranchers and feedlot operators. While we own a small pig breeding subsidiary, we buy most of the pigs we need from farmers who raise their own animals.

Utilizing sound science, expertise and skill, farmers continuously strive to improve and further strengthen their commitment as responsible animal producers.

Additionally, we rely on our veterinarians and service technicians to work in tandem with chicken and turkey farmers to ensure optimal animal husbandry, nutrition, sanitation and housing practices that support animal health and welfare on-farm and in our hatcheries and plants.

In FY2018, we surveyed a group of our raw material suppliers that make up more than 80 percent of the money we spend with third parties to purchase chicken, beef, pork and dairy. Of the 72 percent who responded, we learned:

  • 100% of the chicken meat we procure is from birds raised in open barns.
  • More than 60 percent of our dairy suppliers provide enrichments for their cattle, such as brushes and other items cattle can rub against.
  • Chicken, beef and pork meat we purchase is from animals that were subject to preharvest stunning.

Hear from John Tyson on Tyson Foods’ relationship with farmers.

baby turkeys
More Data, Better Care

Pat and Mike Lenhart
Storm Lake, Iowa

Every year, roughly 1.3 million turkeys spend their first weeks of life on the Lenhart brothers’ farm. The brooder facility raises poults from the day they hatch through four weeks of age, when they are sent to a finishing site.

This volume requires tight process control, which today is aided by automation. For example, water and feed lines activate only when birds are nearby, and sensors let the Lenharts know when levels are low or the barn temperature is too hot or cold. This information serves as an early-warning system. “If the birds aren’t drinking as much water as they should, that can be an early sign of illness,” Mike Lenhart explains. “Monitoring their intake helps us get ahead of problems and keep our birds healthy.”

For the Lenharts, this is a perfect example of their farming philosophy. “It used to be that everybody knew somebody who was a farmer,” says Pat. “Now, there are fewer and fewer of us, so many people no longer know how farming operates.”

“Technology has changed the way we do things. But what’s stayed the same is how we make decisions: always with the best interests of the animal in mind.”

lenhart brothers