[Disclosure: This post is part of a paid sponsor program with Tyson Foods. However, as always, the opinions expressed herein are my own.]
In June, Tyson Foods, the largest producer of chicken in the United States, announced an innovative way to monitor animal welfare on its farms and increase sustainability. They have launched two initiatives: remote video auditing and deploying animal welfare experts.
To ensure that the company’s high standards of animal welfare are being met, the company is employing the industry’s largest third-party remote video auditing program in the United States, which will cover 33 plants. The video captures footage from Tyson Foods’ poultry plants, which will be reviewed by trained off-site auditors and feedback will be given on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. The ultimate goal is to help the company deliver excellence in animal welfare practices. This video technology will also be used to monitor how the chickens are caught on the farm for transport to processing facilities.
The other major part of Tyson Foods’ initiative is the employment of about 60 full-time animal well-being specialists with at least one at every processing facility that handles live animals. These folks already have experience in either processing plants or live chicken operations. Tyson Foods has given them additional training and they are all working for certification through the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization. These specialists will work closely with the company’s Office of Animal Well-Being to make sure each facility is operating in a way that promotes the health and well-being of the birds.
Dr. Temple Grandin is a professor of animal science at Colorado State University and also member of Tyson Foods’ Animal Well-Being Advisory Panel. She’s also very well known in animal agriculture. As to the new initiatives, she said: “Animal welfare is part science, part compassion, and it requires management commitment to learning, training and constant monitoring.”
To celebrate and introduce the new initiative, Tyson Foods hosted a Facebook live even on their page, allowing viewers to follow them as they toured a real chicken farm. You can view the video in its entirety here:
Admittedly, I was a little skeptical about these measures to begin with – will they really help? However, after giving it some thought, I realized that this is an excellent way to gain trust with consumers and ensure that the chickens are treated with the care they deserve.
I trust American farmers, including those raising chickens for Tyson Foods. The video monitoring will help give Tyson Foods a way to answer to public concerns about animal welfare, if and when those questions arise. Now, the company has eyes into those chicken processing plants at all times and can put a stop to anything that shouldn’t be happening. Most importantly, this is a way for Tyson Foods to demonstrate to the public a commitment to animal welfare with a way to supervise live bird handling.
Furthermore, I am also impressed with Tyson Foods’ move to bring animal welfare experts into their facilities. The company already has an impressive list of experts advising it with regard to animal welfare standards. The specialists at the plants have experience in the operations they are working in, and have been given the tools necessary to oversee the proper handling of the animals. While I don’t necessarily think that every farm with animals needs to hire someone full time to oversee the care of animals, this type of position is probably a really good thing on such a large scale operation. It is another opportunity to prove to the public that the company cares about the health and well-being of its animals and establish trust with consumers.
I encourage you to check out the video from Tyson Foods and also visit their Facebook page to ask questions and learn more about these initiatives. You can also visit Tyson Foods’ sustainability website here.