Recently Farm Forward met with Perdue Farm’s executive team and several of the company’s contract farmers, touring some of their farms and facilities in Salisbury, Maryland at Perdue’s third annual Animal Care Summit. Each year, this summit invites candid discussions about Perdue’s progress on animal welfare and provides a chance for Perdue to consider new ideas from farmers and animal advocates. This year, attendees discussed everything from higher welfare genetics to the opportunity for Perdue to diversify into plant-based and blended proteins. Farm Forward welcomes Perdue’s ongoing commitment to transparency and dialogue. Perdue has shown leadership among poultry companies on antibiotics and we applaud their current leadership on animal welfare.
The summit included a tour of a research farm where Perdue works toward improving animal welfare—they have identified slower-growing, active breeds high in welfare indicators that also receive top marks in taste and meat quality. Farm Forward is encouraged by the possibility that improvements in genetics may result in lower incidents of white striping and woody breast, and that improved meat quality may offset higher production cost (as a result of birds living longer). As we await Perdue’s forthcoming research on different breeds, we will continue to inform consumers about the welfare benefits of slower-growth genetics.
For more than a decade, Farm Forward has advocated that genetics should be the cornerstone of efforts to improve poultry welfare. Our advocacy led to a landmark announcement by Global Animal Partnership (GAP) to require higher welfare genetics for all poultry in the GAP program, a change that will impact more than 300 million animals per year. Perdue is the only major poultry company that has committed to improve animal welfare through genetics, and their progress ahead of their 2024 commitment is impressive.
At the summit, Perdue also discussed Controlled Atmospheric Stunning (CAS)—a slaughtering technology with clear benefits for animal welfare, workers, and production efficiency. Perdue has implemented CAS in one of their processing plants and has committed to installing it in all of their slaughterhouses. Farm Forward strongly recommends that other poultry companies adopt CAS or other similar technologies to reduce stocking density in their operations.
Perdue has shared data about the changes they have been making throughout their operations, even when that data isn’t flattering. This level of transparency is in stark contrast to what we’ve seen from other poultry companies, which have not committed to the same level of animal welfare improvements (or even, in the case of Sanderson Farms, to reduce antibiotic use), nor to engage with advocacy groups meaningfully. We look forward to supporting Perdue on their evolution toward improved animal welfare!