WICHITA, KAN. — Cargill Pork has achieved eight priority animal welfare assurance objectives with advancements in the production, handling, transportation and the harvesting of hogs. 

On Oct. 1, 2008, Cargill became the first company to institute the policy that it will purchase hogs only from farms that have been certified under the National Pork Producers Council’s Pork Quality Assurance Plus (PQA+) program. The program establishes strict certification criteria for many aspects of hog production, including animal-welfare standards.

In December 2008, Cargill Pork’s live-production business completed P.Q.A. + certification site assessments for all of the 450 farms where it has production contracts. And more than two years ago, the company also made the commitment to widely adopt group housing for gestating sows.

The company has since achieved its goal of having 50% of contract farms using group sow housing rather than traditional gestation stalls for pregnant sows.

Cargill also instituted the pork industry’s Transportation Quality Assurance policy that only truck drivers who are certified in humane handling of livestock are allowed to deliver animals to the company’s plants. T.Q.A. is a system of training and performance measures for the handling and transportation of pigs.

Drivers and handlers of livestock are trained to ensure swine well-being and pork quality under the T.Q.A. program. Cargill now requires all transporters of hogs to its facilities must be T.Q.A. certified. Any hauler not certified may not pass through the company gates.

Cargill has also taken an industry-leading position by having 20 of its plant animal-handling personnel — more than any other pork processor — trained and certified by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization, which is the elite, industry-recognized training body for meat- plant auditors. The company held the industry’s first P.A.C.C.O. training exclusively for its employees. And eight of the nine industry-wide P.A.C.C.O. training sessions have been held in Cargill plants. 

All Cargill plant employees who handle livestock receive specialized training in humane animal handling. Plant employees receive approximately 82 hours of animal welfare training each per year. Management personnel in the facilities are required to be T.Q.A. certified and supervisors who work with animals in the pens are certified instructors in T.Q.A.

For more than two years, Cargill has used video monitoring in its plants, which is designed to help animal-welfare management teach and monitor performance in animal handling. This system will be enhanced by new technologies in the future.

Cargill also established a Trucker Recognition Program in March 2008 that spotlights livestock haulers for individual performance in the proper handling of hogs. This program, in part, has been important in achieving a significant reduction in non-ambulatory hogs delivered to company plants. Truckers are offered incentives for superior performance in hauling healthy livestock to Cargill plants.

Cargill Pork has also implemented an animal-rescue program to respond to emergencies during transportation. 

 To post your comments on this story, click here: