Animal welfare is an important issue to our customers, consumers, contract growers
and all of us at Pilgrim's. We are absolutely committed to caring for our flocks
in the most humane manner.
Our company follows the science-based guidelines for animal welfare issued by the
National Chicken Council. These guidelines are designed to promote the humane treatment
and well-being of poultry throughout the production cycle, from incubation and hatch
to grow-out and processing. In addition, Pilgrim's has an Animal Welfare Committee
led by senior-level managers from food safety and quality assurance, technical and
veterinary services, and internal audit.
All of our complexes are audited on a regular basis to ensure full compliance with
these humane treatment guidelines. In the event that we identify an issue, we take
immediate action to correct the problem and schedule follow-up audits to ensure
it has been resolved.
Pilgrim's operates 32 feed mills that supply our contract growers with specially
formulated feed made primarily from corn and soybean meal, along with essential
vitamins and minerals. No hormones or steroids are ever given to our chickens.
Pilgrim's contracts with approximately 4,100 family farmers in the U.S. and Mexico
to grow chickens for our operations. We provide the chicks, feed, technical services
and veterinary care. Our contract growers provide the housing, labor, utilities
and, most importantly, the knowledge and expertise that is essential to maintaining
the Pilgrim's standard of excellence.
All of our broiler chicks are vaccinated prior to being delivered to our contract
growers under a bird health program developed by our licensed veterinarians. Once
at the farms, the flocks are raised in large, open structures known as grow-out
houses – which can measure up to 500 feet long and 40 feet wide – where they are
allowed to roam freely while being protected from predators and wild or migrating
birds. These houses are equipped with mechanical systems to deliver feed and water
to the birds. These structures also have ventilation systems and heaters to keep
the birds comfortable. The floors of the grow-out houses are covered with “litter”
composed of organic matter such as wood chips, rice hulls or peanut shells. A minimum
waiting period of at least 10 days between flocks is enforced to ensure the health
and safety of the arriving new flock.
Caring for our flocks also means taking steps to protect them from disease or illness.
Our contract growers are required to follow strict biosecurity measures on their
farms to prevent diseases or viruses from being inadvertently passed to flocks.
These measures include:
- Routine cleaning and disinfecting of equipment and vehicles;
- Providing clean
and protective clothing for all personnel;
- Permitting only essential personnel
and vehicles to enter the farm;
- Limiting or avoiding visits to other bird farms;
- Sheltering our flocks in contained housing structures to provide maximum
protection from inadvertent contact with wild or migratory birds.
All Pilgrim's employees who handle live birds are required to complete animal welfare
training every year. Our contract growers receive similar training. All are required
to sign a training compliance form indicating that they have received this training
and understand their responsibilities regarding our animal welfare program. We have
a strict zero-tolerance policy in regard to animal welfare. Any Pilgrim's employee
who mistreats birds in violations of our guidelines is terminated immediately.
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service personnel
are always present when our plants are operating. Together with our staff of professionally
trained Quality Assurance (QA) Supervisors, they ensure full compliance with all
applicable USDA chicken processing regulations, including those covering humane
By working together with our growers, customers and others in our industry, Pilgrim's
is helping to ensure that our birds are raised, transported and processed as humanely