Programs & Practices

We Ensure Respectful Animal Treatment

Our Team Members

Our Team Members

 

  • All associates who handle live animals, and the farmers who raise them, receive animal care training
  • We have zero tolerance for mistreatment and maintain a toll-free hotline for reporting violations of our animal care programs
  • We annually audit our live production operations and are subject to numerous third-party audits for verifications and by customers

Poultry Care Today

Jim Perdue

Chickens for the PERDUE® brands are raised on family farms. As with the vast majority of poultry in America (with the exception of those labeled organic or free-range), PERDUE® chickens are raised in temperature-controlled, enclosed housing with fresh-air ventilation. This protects chickens from the elements, disease and predators. They have constant access to food and water, periods of light and darkness, and room to move about freely.

This is an efficient way to raise poultry for meat production while keeping the birds healthy. But as with any method of raising animals, it also requires a commitment to animal husbandry, continuous improvement and documented, audited best practices to ensure responsible care. Most important, though, is the understanding that animals raised for food must be treated with respect–an understanding that requires the individual commitment of our associates and the farm families raising our chickens.

Learn about the modern poultry house.

Verified Poultry Care

Perdue Farmer

  • For poultry raised indoors, we use cage-free, temperature-controlled housing with fresh-air ventilation. In the house, chickens are protected from the elements, disease and predators, and they are given constant access to food and water, sufficient room to move and exhibit most natural behaviors, and periods of light and darkness.
  • We ensure the well-being of our chickens and turkeys through audited and documented best practices, designated Poultry Care Officers and veterinarians specializing in poultry. All farmers and associates who handle live poultry receive poultry welfare training.
  • PERDUE®, PERDUE® HARVESTLAND® and PERDUE® SIMPLY SMART® brands are covered by our USDA Process Verified Program for Responsibly Raised. The program includes USDA audits of our hatcheries, farms and processing plants to ensure compliance with our documented animal care standards. Barn-raised (excluding organic) chickens raised for the COLEMAN® brand are from Global Animal Partnership-certified farms rated GAP 2 or above.

2016 and Beyond

We're changing the way we think about raising animals to look beyond their physical needs while elevating poultry welfare at every step. At the same time, we're going to build closer relationships with the farmers who raise our chickens.

To get there, we're implementing a Four-Part Plan to accelerate our progress in poultry:

  • Based on the Five Freedoms, Perdue will evaluate and implement production systems specifically designed to go beyond just the 'needs' of our chickens to also include what our chickens 'want.'
  • Perdue will re-commit to transforming our relationship with the farmers who raise our animals. We will listen and communicate effectively, evaluate our pay structures to incent best practices, and consider their well-being when implementing production systems.
  • We will be transparent in our programs, goals and progress in order to build lasting trust and relationships with our stakeholders.
  • Raising animals should be a journey of continuous improvement. We will continue to build an Animal Care Culture within Perdue.

Learn more about each of these steps, including Where We Are and Where We're Going in charting our poultry care advancements against the Five Freedoms. You'll find all the details in our "Perdue Commitments to Animal Care: 2016 and Beyond" report.

Where Does Your Chicken Come From?

This is a typical chicken farm, where an independent farm family raises Perdue's chickens. We invite you to click through the slide show and learn where your PERDUE® chicken comes from.

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The chicken comes first. We receive day-old breeder chicks from commercial breeder companies. These are chicks that will grow up to supply eggs to our hatcheries. Chicks are tested to be salmonella-free.

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The chicks grow up in pullet houses, where they stay until they reach sexual maturity and are transferred to breeder farms. Independent farmers take care of the young chickens.

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Adult hens and roosters live in specially designed breeder houses. The breeder flocks supply the fertilized eggs to our hatcheries. Breeder flocks live cage-free, and the hens have access to nest boxes to lay their eggs. The farmer caring for the breeder flock collects the eggs, which are then shipped to one of our hatcheries.

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At the hatchery, racks of eggs are moved into rooms called “setters.” Automated setters maintain the ideal temperature and humidity for healthy development of the embryo. The egg racks move to rotate the eggs, just as the mother hen would do.

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At 21 days, the chicks begin to hatch. They are in a special room called a “hatcher.” The hatcher maintains an ideal temperature and fresh air to make sure the chicks get off to a healthy start.

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Before leaving for a nearby farm, chicks are checked to be sure they're healthy, counted, and given a final round of inhaled vaccine to prevent common poultry viruses. Both males and females go the farm.

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Our chicks arrive at the farm in temperature-controlled trucks specially designed to transport the chicks. The trailer has its own heating and cooling systems to keep the chicks comfortable on the way to the farm.

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Baby chicks are delivered to a brood chamber, which is a portion of the poultry house closed off with curtains and heated to a toasty temperature that’s comfortable for the hatchlings. (The black tube around the fork lift keeps the chicks safely away from the delivery equipment.)

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Day one at the farm is called “placement.” The farmer who will raise the chickens has spent several days preparing the chicken house for the new arrivals. That includes windrowing, a process that pasteurizes the litter. Chicks are carefully unloaded onto the floor.

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It only takes a matter of minutes for the day-old chicks to find their way to food and water.

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At two weeks of age, the chickens have moved into the entire house. They are losing their yellow down.

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At three weeks, the chickens have outgrown the awkward stage (kind of like teenagers), and are developing their sturdy legs.

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At four weeks of age, the chickens are showing the characteristic broad breast of meat-type birds, and have fully gained their adult feathers.

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Between six and eight weeks of age, the chickens have reached the desired weight. The chicken house is at its maximum density, but the birds still have room to move about with easy access to food and water.

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The final day on the farm is “movement.” The farmer raises the feed and water lines. Trained crews then hand-catch the chickens. Holding them by their legs minimizes the risk of injury to the chickens. The chicken house is darkened to reduce stress for the birds. Chickens are placed in drawers designed to keep them safe and calm during transport to the harvest plant. Our poultry care program includes the transport of the chickens and their handling when they get to the plant.

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Organic and Free-Range Chickens

Organic and Free-Range Chickens


The definition of free-range requires only access to the outdoors, but we know consumers expect more than that.

That's why all of our organic and other free-range chickens are raised on Global Animal Partnership-certified farms that are ranked GAP 2 or above and meet all the welfare requirements of the National Organic Program. These include:

  • Natural sunlight
  • Open, fresh-air ventilation
  • Enrichments, such as bales of hay or straw, that add complexity to the chicken’s environment
  • Access to outdoor areas that are typically at least half the size of the chicken house.
  • Multiple doors—situated approximately every 50 feet—running the length of the chicken house to encourage birds to go outdoors
  • Sunshades or awnings over each doorway
  • Outdoor water access
  • Pastures with a mixture of grass and earthen areas, allowing the birds to forage and take dust baths

In GAP 2–4 farms, birds are allowed outside during the daytime once their feathers are fully developed to protect them from the elements, which is typically around 4 weeks of age. Birds may come indoors at night and when temperatures are too cold for their comfort.

For GAP 5 farms, birds have perches and are allowed 24-hour access to the outdoors. This program uses a heritage breed that is better suited to the outdoors.

Coleman Natural Hogs

Coleman Natural Hogs


We work directly with family farmers who share our commitment to raising hogs without antibiotics or ractopamine and in a low-stress environment. Our farmers’ sow operations do not use gestation crates. Our hogs are raised in a combination of pastures, hoop barns, outdoor lots and controlled atmosphere barns with fresh-air ventilation. Furthermore, some of our hogs are raised in accordance with the Global Animal Partnership standards.

Niman Ranch

Niman Ranch is a community of more than 720 independent family farmers and ranchers who raise pork, beef and lamb traditionally, humanely and sustainably to deliver the finest-tasting meat.

Niman Ranch products are all third-party certified under the Certified Humane® program and from animals raised by small, independent U.S. family farmers and ranchers who adhere to some of the strictest animal welfare protocols in the industry, including:

  • No antibiotics EVER
  • No added hormones EVER
  • No gestation or farrowing crates
  • Raised outside or in deeply bedded pens
  • Never fed animal by-products

Many of our products are raised in accordance with Global Animal Partnership standards.

Consumer Brands
Perdue
Perdue Simply Smart
Perdue Harvestland
Coleman Natural
Draper Valley
Petaluma Poultry
Praire Grove Farms
Niman Ranch
Spot Farms
Full Moon
Business to Business
Perdue Foodservice
Perdue Foods
Perdue Foods International
Perdue agriBusiness