SALISBURY, Md. – Perdue Farms announced it achieved its goal of providing outdoor access in 25 percent of its chicken houses by January 2020. 

“We are constantly addressing not only the needs of our chickens, but also their wants. This includes providing them with the freedom and environment to express normal behavior,” said Bruce Stewart-Brown, DVM, Diplomate of the American College of Poultry Veterinarians and senior vice president of live production and technology innovation for Perdue Farms. “In our experience, encouraging natural activity for our chickens is a component to maintaining their overall health. We believe there is a correlation between chickens raised with outdoor access and producing a better chicken for the consumer.”

In order to achieve its goals, Perdue family farmers have converted nearly 700 chicken houses from conventional growing operations to meet the company’s free-range standards. The changes included adding windows, environmental enrichments, and safe outdoor access. The majority of these adjustments were subsidized by Perdue Farms.

“Perdue is leading the way among the top poultry producers when it comes to raising the bar on the treatment of chickens,” said Josh Balk, vice president of farm animal protection at the Humane Society of the United States. “Nearly 200 food companies – from fast food to family dining to foodservice – have committed to exclusively sourcing chicken meat from farms that meet higher welfare standards. Perdue is doing the right thing while gaining a competitive advantage. In the meantime, other major producers aren’t making improvements and are even resisting progress. They’ll lose out in the marketplace as Perdue meets the demand for a better way of farming.”

“Reaching this goal is an important milestone in our animal care journey and for our company. As we celebrate our 100th anniversary this year, free-range practices harken back to when Arthur and Pearl Perdue raised chickens literally in the backyard of their now-iconic farmhouse,” said Gudjon Olafsson, vice president of marketing at Perdue Farms.

The company’s goals are outlined in its annual Company Stewardship Report and were shared during its annual Animal Care Summit.

In addition, the company has expanded its line of free-range products under its Perdue Harvestland label. The company also offers free-range and organic chicken products under its Simply Smart Organics labels. All Perdue chickens are raised with no antibiotics ever, no hormones or steroids added, hatched, raised, and harvested in the USA, and fed an all-vegetarian diet with no animal by-products.

“Nearly half of all consumers would like the meat department of their grocery stores to carry more free-range items,” Olafsson said. “We’re answering that call by significantly expanding the free-range offerings under our popular Perdue Harvestland brand – the first coast-to-coast offering of its kind – and available nationally in grocery stores, supercenters, and online.”

The company has added a QR code to all Perdue Harvestland products which, when scanned, will take consumers to a webpage that will tell the story of the family farms and farmers involved with the growing of the animals.

“Consumers increasingly desire more transparency behind where their food comes from, which includes the people and processes behind their food,” Olafsson added. “We couldn’t do what we do without the dedication of our farm families, and we’re proud to highlight their efforts and individual stories in connection to the food they help produce.”