It has promised its customers a “sustainable supply of chicken that meets all the animal welfare criteria” outlined in the Joint Animal Protection Agency Statement on Broiler Chicken Welfare Issues.
The higher standards of care include transitioning to strains of birds approved by the Global Animal Partnership (GAP); reducing stocking density to a maximum of six pounds per square foot; providing birds with enriched environments, including litter, lighting and enrichments that meet GAP’s new standards; and processing chickens in a manner that avoids pre-stun handling.
The announcement was made at its Animal Care Summit.
“We know that trust is earned by responding to consumers and other stakeholders, and that includes a willingness to make significant changes,” said Jim Perdue, chairman of Perdue Farms. “It’s not easy, and it requires commitment, resources and time. But people expect more from Perdue, and we have to keep improving.”
These changes were welcomed by animal welfare groups.
“Major food companies are increasingly committing to treating chickens in their supply chains better. Perdue, with this announcement, becomes the largest poultry producer to ensure that this demand will be met,” said Josh Balk, vice-president of Farm Animal Protection at the Humane Society of the United States. “We applaud Perdue for focusing its improvements on the core areas of concern within the poultry industry and this holistic approach demonstrates all that’s possible in creating better lives for billions of chickens.”
Leah Garcés, executive director at Compassion in World Farming, said. “We commend Perdue’s commitment to meet the rapidly growing demands for higher-welfare chicken. Not only is it the right thing to do for the birds, but it’s the right thing to do for the business given the certain direction of the market. Their transformation and willingness to collaborate, be transparent and continually do better makes them a pioneer among poultry producers.”
Mercy for Animals said other processors should take heed. “Perdue’s animal welfare improvements and its promise to meet the demands of companies with progressive animal welfare policies puts other poultry producers on notice,” said Brent Cox, vice-president of corporate outreach at Mercy For Animals. “It’s time for Tyson Foods, Foster Farms and others to catch up with business trends, consumer expectations, and the latest in animal welfare science by committing to GAP standards and eliminating the worst forms of animal abuse in their supply chains.”