Programs & Practices

We Ensure Respectful Animal Treatment

Changing How We Raise Chickens

Jim Perdue
View 2016 Animal Care Commitments Video »
Animal Care

As we progress from meeting the needs of our chickens to providing for their wants, we are charting our progress using the Five Freedoms.

Part 1

The Five Freedoms

Originally developed in Europe in 1965, and formalized by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council in 1979, the Five Freedoms are a globally accepted standard for animal husbandry. The Five Freedoms have been endorsed by the World Organisation for Animal Health, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. 



1

Freedom from Hunger and Thirst 

by ready access to fresh water and diet to maintain health and vigor

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2

Freedom from Discomfort

by providing an appropriate environment, including shelter and a comfortable resting area

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3

Freedom from Pain, Injury and Disease 

by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment 

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4

Freedom to Express Normal Behavior

by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind

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5

Freedom from Fear and Distress 

by ensuring conditions and treatment that avoid mental suffering

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We are going to build closer relationships with the farmers who raise our chickens on their farms.

Part 2

We recognize that the farmers who raise our chickens on their farms are critical stakeholders in our efforts to elevate our animal care programs. They, and those who work with them, make an incredible commitment to care for our chickens 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Just as we know we can and should do a better job in our relationships with our farmers, we recommit to our relationships and will focus on three critical areas:

  1. We will commit to doing a better job listening to farmers and communicating with them.
  2. We will modify our business relationships with contracts that connect care and welfare performance, in addition to production and efficiency, to pay and incentives.
  3. We will consider the farmers' well-being when establishing housing standards, space allotments and flock rotation cycles.

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We will be transparent and will build lasting relationships with our stakeholders.

Part 3

Our commitment to animal care was just the first step in building greater trust in the way we raise animals. We pledge to be transparent in our programs, goals and progress to build lasting trust and relationships with our stakeholders.

  • We will annually share key animal care metrics in a clear and concise manner.
  • We will openly criticize ourselves when appropriate.
  • We will honestly and respectfully answer those who constructively criticize us.
  • We will continue an "engagement" process designed to open a dialogue with a wide variety of animal welfare stakeholders, including animal welfare advocates, academics and animal industry experts.
  • We will celebrate with our partners as we achieve our milestones.

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We will continuously improve by learning, listening and responding while building a culture of animal care.

Part 4

We will continuously improve by learning, listening and responding. We will reflect on what we learn along the way and utilize a formal framework to support continuous improvement.

  • We will study "what a chicken wants" to continue to evolve our approach to raising and caring for chickens in a respectful way.
  • We will work to establish a working definition for an Animal Care Culture within a company that raises animals for food. We intend to determine how this might be measured in order to hold ourselves accountable to our continuous improvement aspirations.
  • Our Poultry Welfare Council, which has existed for more than 15 years, will continue to be a key element going forward. In addition, in 2015, Perdue established a dedicated executive position of Vice President, Chief Animal Care Officer and Farmer Relationship Advocate to ensure leadership in animal welfare and farmer initiatives within our senior staff.
  • We will have senior leadership (Vice President level and above) participation in all audit exit reviews to ensure that concerns or deviations reported via our third-party audits are heard at the highest level of our organization.
  • We will study and invest in new technology when appropriate.
  • Perdue's Commitments to Animal Care is not meant to be a static document. We will update our positions on an annual basis to reflect key learnings from this journey.

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Verified Poultry Care

Verified Poultry Care

  • 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 Animals. The program includes USDA audits of our hatcheries, farms and processing plants to ensure compliance with our documented animal care standards. Chickens raised for the COLEMAN® retail brand are from Global Animal Partnership-certified farms rated GAP 2 or above.

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