FarmCheck® Program

In October 2012, we launched our FarmCheck® program. Through this program, third-party auditors check the livestock and poultry farms that supply us for such things as animal access to food and water, proper human-animal interaction, and worker training.

Our four guiding principles:

SITE CHECKS

Third-party auditors check on the farm for such things as animal access to food and water, as well as proper human-animal interaction and worker training.

ADVISORY PANEL

An external Animal Well-Being Advisory Panel has been established and includes experts in the fields of farm animal behavior, health, production and ethics. In addition to other responsibilities, the committee helps determine research priorities and reviews the audit program recommending any needed improvements.

RESEARCH

Tyson Foods also supports additional farm animal well-being research. With guidance from the advisory panel, we review existing research as well as fund and promote additional research that we believe will lead to continued improvements in animal raising methods. Review some of our research, pilots, and engagement efforts.

STAFF

Tyson Foods is giving animal well-being our fullest attention. That’s why we have a special team within the company to oversee all of our efforts around animal well-being and animal welfare.

Three people in a pig farm
SITE CHECKS

The measure of success

Our FarmCheck® program scope is based on a statistical analysis of each protein supply chain. This analysis allows us to determine the number of farms that should be audited each year so that, over a three year period, we can be 99% confident that 95% or more of our supply chain complies with the standards of the program.

As a part of our FarmCheck® program, we analyze several criteria on the farms we audit to gauge the physical, emotional and behavioral well-being of the animals. A few of the welfare outcome measures we look at are detailed below.

Measuring the outcome:

POULTRY

When auditing poultry operations, we check the foot pads of birds in a group of 30 that are between 14 and 28 days of age and note any lesions. In addition, we give a gait score to the producer for the previous seven days of production depicting the number of birds that are observed out of 100 that are unable to stand and walk. We also assess housing conditions, inspect for injuries or illness, and observe catching operations. Review specific outcomes from our FarmCheck® program.

SWINE

While in 2016 we transitioned to utilizing the Common Swine Industry Audit platform, FarmCheck® has always focused on verifying key aspects to animal well-being: proper human-animal interaction, proper caretaker training, access to food and water, and the body condition of the animals. Through this initiative, we are able to verify that our suppliers are striving to provide the best possible care to their hogs, regardless of the operation type or system. Review specific outcomes from our FarmCheck® program.

When auditing cattle feed yards and livestock markets, we reference the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) guidelines. BQA is a national program that provides guidelines for beef cattle production, educational programs, and industry cooperation for improving best practices. Additionally, we established a goal that requires all of our beef producers to be Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) trained by 2019. Review specific outcomes from our FarmCheck® program.

Beginning with our FY2018 sustainability report, we will share progress against key welfare indicators such as number dead on arrival, broken wings and paw scores for broiler chickens; and falls, prod scores, and wait time to unload for cattle and hogs.

ADVISORY PANEL
Sustainability - FarmCheck Audits Advisory Panel

Keeping us in check

Our FarmCheck® program’s Animal Well-Being Advisory Panel, help us determine research priorities and ways to improve the FarmCheck® program. The panel also provides guidance and direction on various projects throughout the year, such as the following:

  • Expertise for our antibiotic working groups
  • Blueprint reviews on facility design, with a focus on animal well-being
  • The help needed for us to make informed decisions about new animal well-being technologies
  • Any undercover video reviews needed and feedback on what we’re doing right and where we might be able to improve
  • Animal well-being training in plants and on-farm audit programs

THIRD PARTY AUDIT SUMMARIES:

Summaries of our recent third-party animal well-being audits are available at the links below.

Chicken Third-Party Audit Summary

Beef Third-Party Audit Summary

Pork Third-Party Audit Summary

Newbern Third-Party AWB Audit Summary

Turkey Third-Party Audit Summary

STAFFING

A dedicated team

Our Corporate Office of Animal Well-Being, is led by Dr. Karen Christensen who serves as Senior Director of Animal Well-Being. This past year we launched a broad high-tech, high-touch animal welfare program that included fielding what has become the world’s largest team of animal well-being specialists to ensure best-in-class training and practices. We have trained and deployed nearly 60 dedicated full-time animal well-being specialists. This includes at least one specialist at every processing facility that handles live animals, who works collaboratively with our Office of Animal Well-Being and our plants to ensure best-in-class training and practices. 

For example, in 2017, our poultry specialists became Certified Internal Auditors through the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) and our beef and pork specialists attended PAACO training with Dr. Temple Grandin as one of the instructors. This extensive training program requires classroom training, field training (shadow auditing), an exam and annual continuing education to maintain certification. We are the first company to hold this training for internal auditors. Half of the specialists are also involved in supporting animal well-being on the poultry farms that supply our company.

Specialists also support the FarmCheck® program, our internal and third-party auditing of essential parts of the animal handling process. Because they are embedded in the day-to-day operations of each facility, specialists have become a highly valued resource to the complexes in which they are stationed. Not only do they conduct regular internal audits, but they are also available to assist in real-time problem solving with team members when an issue arises on the plant floor.

In addition to overseeing animal well-being in our plant operations, specialists monitor animal well-being at U.S. farms where our chickens are raised. In this role, specialists help farmers comply with animal welfare policies and regulations and support adherence to the Five Freedoms principles. This grassroots approach to monitoring is a first in the meat industry, and its success will grow as specialists gain experiences and incorporate new best practices.

Ride along with one of our Animal Well-Being Specialists.