SPRINGDALE, Ark. – Tyson Foods, Inc. announced a new auditing program designed to help the company ensure humane on-farm treatment of animals.

The Tyson FarmCheck Program allows the company to audit the treatment of livestock and poultry suppliers. Tyson currently has 12,000 suppliers consisting of 5,000 poultry farms, 3,000 hog farms and 4,000 cattle farms. Audits have already begun at some of the hog farms that supply the company.

“Our company is made up of ethical, responsible and compassionate people, and we believe the family farmers who supply us share our values,” said Donnie Smith, president and CEO of Tyson Foods. “We know more consumers want assurance their food is being produced responsibly, and we think two important ways to do that are by conducting on-farm audits while also continuing to research ways to improve how farm animals are raised.”

The audits are part of a larger initiative related to the company’s core value of responsible animal stewardship. Tyson also plans to develop a Farm Animal Well-Being Research Program. Under the program the company will review existing research as well as fund additional research that the company believes will improve animal raising methods.

“We want to identify and study the critical points — from breeding to harvesting — where the quality of life for livestock and poultry can be improved, and use the results to make a difference,” Smith said. “We know that content farm animals are healthier, and at Tyson Foods we want healthy animals.”

A Farm Animal Well-being Advisory Committee will oversee the FarmCheck and research programs, according to Tyson. The committee is expected to begin work in March 2013. Dr. Dean Danilson was named vice president of Animal Well-Being Programs. He was formerly vice president of Food Safety & Quality Control. Danilson and his staff will manage the audits, research and external advisory committee activities for hogs, cattle and chicken.