Pilgrim’s is committed to meeting or exceeding government and industry standards for humane animal handling and expects animals to be handled in a safe and humane manner.
Our animal welfare programs include specific requirements and procedures to protect the health and welfare of our livestock and poultry during transportation, unloading, handling and processing, as well as the safety of our team members.
When chickens arrive at our production facilities for processing, they are staged under cover in the winter and we use misters and fans in the summer. On our pre-harvest line, chickens are picked up by their legs and placed into shackles by trained team members. They are then stunned to make sure they are insensible to pain when processed. In two poultry production facilities in the U.S. and all production facilities in Europe, controlled atmospheric stunning methods are used. In this process, birds are insensible before shackling occurs.
Our U.S. poultry animal welfare programs exceed or meet PAACO-certified NCC Guidelines for our breeders, hatcheries, broilers and at slaughter. During each shift at our processing facilities, managers walk through plants to monitor animal handling compliance and perform quality assessment checks regularly at each station. In the U.S., USDA FSIS personnel are always present in plants during processing. The USDA, in cooperation with Pilgrim’s quality assurance team members, assures full compliance with all applicable USDA chicken processing regulations.
Five of our six Mexico processing facilities are compliant with the Federally Inspected Type (TIF), a voluntary food-quality certification of the Mexican government.
Our abattoirs facilities in Europe are compliant with Council Regulation N˚1099/2009 standards on animal welfare.
Pilgrim’s UK higher welfare supply chain raises hogs according to the RSPCA higher welfare standards as a minimum. In a privately commissioned standalone assessment, Pilgrim’s UK was awarded the highest ranking, Tier 1, for its animal welfare standards, under the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW). Handling of hogs is done using low-stress techniques and facilities are maintained to ensure appropriate animal flow. Group CO2 stunning systems are used for all hogs and are in compliance with Council Regulation N˚1099/2009 standards on animal welfare which are monitored daily by FSA inspectors.
Across all Pilgrim’s facilities, handling of animals for any reason, including vaccinations, treatment and movement to new facilities or processing is done using approved methods to avoid injury. At processing facilities, livestock and poultry are handled in a humane manner.
During transportation, we work to protect our animals from temperature extremes and provide them with adequate ventilation.
When our chickens are transported during cold weather, we add side and front panels to the transport cages to keep chickens warm. During the summer months, we reduce the number of chickens per cage and keep them cool and minimize heat stress with shade, fans and misters. We work to minimize the amount of time chickens spend in cages, consistent with regionally appropriate animal welfare practices. We also monitor handling and transportation animal welfare metrics of our chickens.
In Europe, our pork production facilities require that livestock are moved in their social groups, and hog trailers are equipped with lifting decks to make loading as stress free as possible. Trailers are bedded with straw and in the summer months, extra drinking water is provided. We monitor transport time, with current journey times averaging four hours and maximum transport times limited to eight hours.