SALISBURY, MD. — Perdue Farms shared its 2022 Commitments to Animal Care Report during its recent annual Animal Care Summit. Hosted by Perdue for the seventh year, the event was held near the company’s headquarters in Maryland, meeting in person for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.
Attendees toured Perdue’s research farm to get a look at the company’s animal husbandry studies and practices, including:
- Pasture choice: Planting various vegetation in free-range pastures to study which options the birds gravitate to the most, as part of ongoing research around enticing birds with outdoor access to spend more time outside.
- Feed choice: Providing birds with the option to choose between feed with higher protein vs. higher energy nutrients to study which they prefer and how it impacts their growth and health.
- RFID: Using RFID technology to track how frequently free-range chickens access their paddock.
- On-farm hatch: Studying the feasibility and benefits of allowing chicks to hatch in the chicken house rather than a hatchery to improve early care.
Other initiatives that weren’t showcased on the farm include developing an educational module around chicken behavior and using it to train flock advisors, building an enrichment program for broiler breeders, developing a litter-condition scoring method to implement across all operations, determining if re-establishing the mother hen/chick relationship would benefit the chicks/chickens, and finding a simple measuring method for pasture utilization within free-range housing.
“Now in our second century of business, we at Perdue Farms are proud to continue making advancements and leading our industry in the standards to which we raise our animals,” said Mark McKay, president of Perdue Premium Poultry and Meats. “Animal husbandry and stewardship, including strong connections to our farmers and transparency with our stakeholders, keep our animals healthier and we believe translate to a better product for consumers.”
Perdue originally developed its Commitments to Animal Care in 2016, which includes the following four-part plan:
- Chickens: Based on the “Five Freedoms,” Perdue will go beyond just the needs of its chickens to also include what its chickens “want.”
- Farms: Perdue will recommit to relationships with farmers who raise its animals.
- Trust: In order to build trust, Perdue will be transparent in its programs, goals and progress.
- Continuous improvement: Perdue will continue to build an Animal Care culture within the company through continuous improvement.
Through revisions, Perdue has landed on 87 total initiatives related to the four pillars, which are laid out in the current 2022 report.
“As we look back over the seven years since we announced Perdue Commitments to Animal Care, it has been a journey of listening, learning and evolving,” the report says. “The Perdue Commitments to Animal Care was shaped with input from diverse stakeholders – including some of our harshest critics – and we continue to seek their input. We learn from a wide range of perspectives, whether they be farmers, our associates, advocates, customers or consumers, in formal and informal ways.”