Animal Care

Highlights Report

In keeping with our commitment to transparency and trust, we're happy to report on the progress we've made in each of the four parts of our Perdue Commitments to Animal Care since our groundbreaking 2016 announcement.


Our Chickens' Needs and Wants

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

Freedom from Hunger & Thirst
1. Freedom from: Hunger & Thirst

We're continuing to research nutrition to get our chickens off to a healthy start.

Goals Progress

We will design and implement an approach to baby chick (starter) nutrition that better supports our birds as they are developing their immune, skeletal and other foundational systems that help keep them healthy later in life.

We incorporated an alternative to soybean meal into organic diets and continue to test others.

We continue to test different formssuch as smaller pelletsto deliver consistent nutrition in each bite.

Next Steps

We will continue testing feed ingredients and forms.

Freedom from Discomfort
2. Freedom from: Discomfort

We increased the amount of space we give our chickens, implemented six-hour "lights off" resting periods and continue to study activity levels and slower-growing breeds.

Freedom from Discomfort
Goals Progress

We will study and implement new space criteria for chickens based on bird activity and health.

We increased space, partnering with farmers to add 210 new chicken houses, to decrease density across the company.

We increased time between flocks, resulting in healthier conditions.

We will evaluate and implement a six-hour minimum continuous "lights off" resting period for all our poultry.

We implemented a six-hour minimum continuous "lights off" period (except brief exceptions to allow new chicks to acclimate to the house and pre-harvest intervals).

We will continue to study normal behaviors activity levels, and implementation of enrichments that address comfort levels appropriate for different stages of a bird’s life. Our goal is to double the rate of play/activity by our chickens in the next three years.

These modifications will be specifically designed to address broiler chicken growth rates that cause discomfort to birds and could include breeds of birds that grow slower and more uniformly.

We completed a comparison of activity levels in houses with and without windows.

We began investigating technologysuch as hanging scalesto measure bird activity.

We funded two Poultry Science master's students to study what kind of enrichments chickens prefer using.

We started studying slower-growing breeds and "crosses" of slower-growing breeds with conventional breeds.

We met with breeding companies and hired an expert geneticist to help us select and evaluate slower-growing breeds and breed crosses.

We are eliminating inserting plastic implants (known as "Noz Bonz") into the nostrils of males in our breeder flocks and will completely stop the practice by January 1, 2018.

We stopped the practice and all breeder flocks with existing implants will be out of the field by August 1, 2017.

Next Steps

We will increase space by 10% in two different growing programs and report the results by March 2018.

We will establish a baseline and measurements as we work toward doubling the activity of our chickens.

We are testing different breeds.

Freedom from Pain, Injury & Disease
3. Freedom from: Pain, Injury & Disease

As a result of improved health and welfare programs, we became the first major poultry company to move all our chickens to No Antibiotics Ever protocols.

Goals Progress

We will set a companywide goal to eliminate antibiotics.

We became the first major poultry company to move all our chicken production to No Antibiotics Ever protocols, including the elimination of human and animal-only antibiotics.

We are committed to implementing controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) at all Perdue harvest plants. Our standards mandate CAS without possibility of regaining sensibility. Our goal is to have the next CAS installation operational by the end of 2017, followed by gradual implementation at all our harvest facilities.

After visiting seven countries to evaluate different systems, we selected a system, with the first installation operational in November 2017.


We converted our Milford, Del., harvest plant to controlled atmosphere (CO2) stunning on schedule.

Next Steps

We’ll construct and study a fully enclosed, climate-controlled de-stress staging area to evaluate implementation at additional Perdue harvest plants.

Freedom from Discomfort
4. Freedom to: Express Normal Behavior

We installed windows in 200 houses, with 94% of farmers reporting positive reactions.

Freedom to Express Normal Behavior
Goals Progress

By the end of 2016, we will install windows in 200 existing poultry houses and use those houses to compare bird health and activity with health and activity in enclosed housing. If effective in increasing bird activity, we will establish annual targets for retrofitting houses with windows.

We increased lighting for all of our chicken houses.

We installed windows in 200 houses studying the effects on flocks and asking farmers their opinions. Overall data showed a small decrease in feed conversion but other performance measures remained essentially unchanged. 94% of farmers had positive reactions to the windows.

We are mandating windows in all new construction of chicken houses that will be used to raise our chickens.

A total of 17% of all houses have windows.

As of June 30, 2017, Perdue new chicken house construction specifications include windows.

Next Steps

We are expanding outdoor access by 210 additional houses in the next year and will continue to study bird activity. This will increase the percentage of houses with windows from 17% to 25%

Freedom from Fear & Distress
5. Freedom from: Fear & Distress

We started incentive pay and video monitoring to emphasize appropriate care.

Goals Progress

We will implement video monitoring of catching crews and transport vehicles, with weekly spot checking of video recordings.

We piloted third-party video monitoring at our plants and are rolling out to all locations.

We will implement additional pay incentives for farmers and others who handle live birds to further promote appropriate handling of live chickens.

Our contract catching company has started offering weekly bonuses for catching crews based on bird handling and transport.

Next Steps

We continue to review potential approaches to video monitoring of catching crews and continue implementation of third-party video monitoring in our plants.

Farmer Relationships

We've established farmer councils and hired more flock advisors to help strengthen relationships with our farm families.

Goals Progress

We will commit to doing a better job listening to farmers and communicating with them.

We established farmer councils in each of our 17 growing areas and have held three meetings with each council, asking each council to help us identify areas for improvement.

To increase communication with our farmers, we hired additional flock advisors and initiated a flock advisor communication training program. 

We will modify our business relationships with contracts that connect care and welfare performance, in addition to production and efficiency, to pay and incentives.

We adjusted payments to compensate farmers for changes we made to give birds more space and increase time between flocks, and we added an "audit-ready" bonus to compensate farmers for documenting compliance to animal care requirements.

We will consider the farmers' well-being when establishing housing standards, space allotments and flock rotation cycles.

We surveyed farmers about their experience with windows to learn what went well and what could be improved.

Next Steps

We will launch a website for our farmers by January 2018 and publish a Farmer Relationship Index to measure our progress in further strengthening farmer relationships. 


Openness, Transparency and Trust

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


We significantly increased tours and visitors, and invited a range of stakeholders to our 2017 Animal Care Summit.

Goals Progress

We will annually share key animal care metrics in a clear and concise manner.

We committed to sharing metrics on livability, foot pad health and percentage of flocks that have to be taken out of No Antibiotics Ever protocols to receive treatment.

We published our first annual report.

We will embark on 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 significantly increased tours and visits.

We scheduled an Animal Care Summit for July 2017, inviting customers, farmers, advocates, and welfare experts and students.

Next Steps

Viewing rooms will allow visitors to see inside chicken houses, with the first two constructed by March 2018.

We will establish a process for sharing third-party audit results with interested stakeholders by October 2018.


A Journey of Continuous Improvement

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

Continuous Improvement

We’re continuing to evolve our approach to raising and caring for chickens.

Goals Progress

We will study "what a chicken wants" to continue to evolve our approach to raising and caring for chickens in a respectful way.

We helped fund two master's students' research.

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.

We established a process to document events requiring immediate attention.

Our Poultry Care Council meets quarterly.

We established an Animal Care Council to advise senior leadership.

We will have senior leadership (Vice President level and above) participation in all audit exit reviews to assure that concerns or deviations reported via our third-party audits are heard at the highest level of our organization.

We are establishing a process to document leadership participation in audit exit reviews.

We will study and invest in new technology when appropriate.

We invested in controlled atmosphere stunning, video monitoring and research farm upgrades.

Next Steps
  • We will keep a log of actions that represent a culture of animal care and publish examples by March 2018. 
  • We will launch a website for our farmers by January 2018 and publish a Farmer Relationship Index to measure our progress in further strengthening farmer relationships. Update: Farmer website, including Farmer Relationship Index, went live in January 2018.  

Corporate Stewardship Report

Company Stewardship Report

Learn about the steps we're taking to reach our goal of becoming the most trusted name in food and agricultural products.

Consumer Brands
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