Tyson Foods Asks Hog Farmers to Make Animal Welfare Adjustments

Tyson Foods Inc. of Springdale said Thursday that it has asked its hog farmers to adopt new methods of raising, monitoring and euthanizing animals and said it would increase supplier inspections in 2014.

The Humane Society of the United States praised Tyson’s actions, and a similar one by competing meat processor Smithfield Foods, calling it a “big movement from an important company.”

In the letter (PDF) signed by Shane Miller, Tyson’s senior vice president of pork, and Dean Danilson, vice president of animal well-being programs, the company asked that its suppliers to:

  • Use video monitoring of sows “to increase oversight and decrease biosecurity risks.”
  • Stop using manual blunt force as a primary method of euthanizing sick or injured piglets.
  • Adopt “pain mitigation methods” to eliminate or reduce the pain associated with tail docking and castration.
  • Improve housing for pregnant sows “by focusing on the quality and quantity of space provided, including urging all future sow barn construction or remodeling to allow for pregnant sows of all sizes to stand, lie down, stretch their legs and turn around.”

Tyson also said it will increase inspections of sow farms in 2014, which are part of its FarmCheck animal well-being program. 

“The third-party audits we began in 2012 are important to our efforts to help ensure responsible on-farm treatment of animals and we believe more audits will further validate good sow farm management practices,” the letter said.

In a statement posted to his blog, Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle said Tyson’s letter “contains several promising points on a variety of issues,” but he particularly praised the company’s response to crate confinement.

“Tyson may still have a ways to go when it comes to shoring up a gestation crate-free supply system, but its first steps on this issue – like all steps on the path toward a more humane way of living or conducting business – are most welcome,” he wrote.