Tyson commits to animal welfare
June 21, 2017
by Bob Sims
Tyson Foods is adding to its existing animal well-being initiatives.
SPRINGDALE, Ark. – Tyson Foods has announced a new initiative for increasing animal well-being. The initiative will focus on improving the care of chickens through remote video auditing (RVA), improved training, pilot programs for controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) and more.
Tyson has implemented the system of Arrowsight, a known industry RVA company. Tyson also is putting together a team of animal well-being specialists and introducing a CAS pilot project at two of its poultry facilities this year.
“Ensuring the well-being of the animals in our care is a core part of our broader sustainability journey and these initiatives are the latest examples of our leadership in this important area,” Justin Whitmore, chief sustainability officer for Tyson Foods, said in a statement. “We’re also piloting other potential innovations as we become the world’s most sustainable producer of protein.”
“Animal welfare is part science, part compassion, and it requires management commitment to learning, training and constant monitoring,” said Dr. Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State Univ., a member of Tyson Foods’ Animal Well-Being Advisory Panel, and long-time contributing editor to MEAT+POULTRY.
Arrowsight’s RVA program, which includes remote video auditing technology and data analytics services, is now helping Tyson monitor its live bird handling in 33 poultry plants. Video from Tyson’s poultry plants is analyzed by trained off-site auditors who provide daily, weekly and monthly feedback to plant management.
In addition, Tyson is launching a pilot project with Arrowsight that uses RVA to monitor and assess on-farm bird catching through the use of mobile cameras. Arrowsight auditors analyze video for the adherence to humane treatment and follow up immediately if they identify concerns.
Tyson’s commitment to animal well-being includes nearly 60 dedicated full-time animal well-being specialists across all its beef, pork and poultry operations. There will be at least one specialist at every processing facility that handles live animals to work with the company’s Office of Animal Well-Being. Half of the specialists will work to support the animal well-being on the farms that supply chickens to Tyson, as well.
Specialists will receive continual training and have experience in either live chicken operations or processing. They have received training through webinars, a week long summit and are taking a certification course through the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO).
Two CAS pilot projects happening in the next year will be evaluated with the results determining if CAS is a reasonable alternative to existing stunning methods. Tyson will then decide whether or not to deploy CAS at other facilities. Tyson will pilot chicken house lighting and enrichments for birds, as well.
On June 22, at 10 a.m. CST, Tyson Foods will host a video on Facebook Live. It will include an animal well-being specialist, Tyson Foods veterinarian and a poultry farmer on a Tyson chicken farm providing a look at how the company’s chickens are raised. The video can be viewed at Tyson’s corporate Facebook page.