Sustaining Our World – 2017 Sustainability Report

Ensuring Animal Well-Being
at Every Step

Throughout our value chain, we keep animal well-being top of mind and urge our independent farmer partners to do the same.

On the farm, company veterinarians and animal well-being specialists work closely with farmers to ensure optimal animal husbandry, nutrition, sanitation and housing practices that support animal health and well-being. In our beef and pork operations, we source fully grown animals from third-party suppliers with whom we have longstanding relationships and who are expected to maintain the same high level of animal well-being standards that we observe within our own operations. In processing operations, we invest significant resources to train team members on safe animal handling, transport and harvesting, as well as the importance of animal well-being to our values.

Animal Well-Being Specialists: A Game Changer

This past year we launched a broad high-tech, high-touch animal welfare program that included fielding what has become the world’s largest team of animal well-being specialists to ensure best-in-class training and practices. At the completion of FY2017, we had a total of 53 animal well-being specialists on staff — one for each of our facilities that harvest live animals in the U.S., including chicken, cattle, turkey and swine processing plants. These specialists meet a unique need, acting as liaison between our operation teams and plant managers, as well as serving as advocates for the animals themselves.

Specialists support the FarmCheck® program, our internal and third-party auditing of essential parts of the animal handling process. Because they are embedded in the day-to-day operations of each facility, specialists have become a highly valued resource to the complexes in which they are stationed. Not only do they conduct regular internal audits, but they are also available to assist in real-time problem solving with team members when an issue arises on the plant floor.

In addition to overseeing animal well-being in our plant operations, specialists monitor animal well-being at U.S. farms where our chickens are raised. In this role, specialists help farmers comply with animal welfare policies and regulations and support adherence to the Five Freedoms principles. This grassroots approach to monitoring is a first in the meat industry, and its success will grow as specialists gain experiences and incorporate new best practices.

Ride-along with Nick Wolfenden

Take a ride with one of our Animal Well-Being Specialists to learn more about our animal well-being audits and our deepened commitment to animal well-being.

Also in 2017, Poultry specialists became Certified Internal Auditors through the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) and Beef and Pork Specialists attended PAACO training with Dr. Temple Grandin as one of the instructors. This extensive training program requires classroom training, field training (shadow auditing), an exam and annual continuing education to maintain certification. We are the first company to hold this training for internal auditors.


The safe and responsible handling of animals during loading, transport and unloading is a critical part of our overall commitment to animal well-being. Strict guidelines govern our transportation activities to protect animals and to ensure the quality of the food we produce. More information about these guidelines can be found on our corporate website.

In 2017, chicken and turkey specialists participated in the U.S. Poultry and Egg Association’s Poultry Handling and Transportation Certification Program Using the knowledge from this “train the trainer” program, specialists will be rolling out training to those team members involved in all phases of transportation for poultry in 2018. Our intent is to be the first company to be certified in our poultry transportation operations through U.S. Poultry and Egg.

We also utilize external resources to provide guidance to team members in our processing plants as well as drivers who transport live animals to our facilities, including following the North American Meat Institute Transportation Audit Guidelines for cattle and hogs at all our beef and pork processing plants, offering the Master Cattle Transporter Guide by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association to all cattle drivers and requiring Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) for all haulers into our pork plants.