Broiler Chicken Business
Cargill has a growing broiler chicken business and is a leading producer of chicken products in Europe, Asia Pacific, Latin America and Canada. We are aligning our care and handling of chickens raised for food with the expectations of our customers and consumers.
Where Cargill owns farms, our employees receive training to ensure birds receive the highest level of care. Our contract farmers share our values and pledge to maintain excellent animal handling and management that meets our requirements.
We have many Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) certified staff across North America and all employees at processing plants who handle birds regularly receive training on how to recognize and mitigate bird stress by employing the proper handling techniques. We abide by all local regulations and follow all regional guidelines established for the broiler chicken industry.
Cargill is committed to being a leader in delivering safe, humanely treated chicken through research, innovation and employing best practices.
Humane handling on the farm
All our birds are handled with care using low stress methods. We listen carefully to our customer and consumer preferences in addition to current animal welfare science. Therefore, we recognize the importance of offering alternatives in the way our chickens are raised.
Where we own our grow-out operations, our employees are trained to handle birds with care. Our contract farmers share our values and pledge to maintain excellent animal handling and management as Cargill suppliers.
Cargill is a firm supporter of the judicious use of antibiotics and working toward the reduction in use of certain antibiotics important to human health. At the same time, if a flock of animals become sick, we have a duty to treat them. Withholding medical treatment results in needless pain and suffering, which is unacceptable.
Across our broiler production, we are working to phase out the use of antibiotics for growth promotion or in the absence of clinical disease. We have already eliminated antibiotics for growth promotion in North America, Europe and Asia, and are doing so in Latin America. The use of antibiotics, when needed, is carried out under the direction and supervision of veterinarians. In Canada and China, we have developed antibiotic-free broiler programs to serve consumers who prefer meat from birds that have never been treated with antibiotics.
In addition, we are currently developing on-farm computer vision and audio analysis solutions using artificial intelligence permitting early detection of certain potential health and welfare issues in flocks. Broiler farms in China and Canada participate in testing these technologies.
Humane handling at processing
Our staff undergo multiple trainings and certifications to recognize and mitigate bird stress, including Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO), Poultry Welfare Officer (PWO) certification and other region-specific best practices. Our certified staff work directly with employees at processing plants to provide training on how to employ proper low stress animal handling.
In support of continuous improvement in animal welfare, many of our poultry businesses have either long-implemented alternative humane slaughter methods, such as Controlled Atmospheric Stunning (CAS), or are in the process of transitioning from an electric water stunning system to CAS systems.
During the transition period, internal committees are charged with the responsibility to carefully choose and implement the system which best addresses bird welfare while also meeting our business needs. Our London, Ontario, chicken processing facility installed a CAS system in spring 2018.
Euthanasia – which is separate from humane slaughter – is performed only when necessary to end animal suffering. Our concern for the wellbeing of animals involves responsible euthanasia when it is called for at the hatchery, on farm or during transport. Our teams who handle live animals are trained on humane euthanasia techniques. We believe it is essential to stay current on new technologies and best practices that avoid, unless absolutely necessary, humane euthanasia.
Cargill abides by local animal transportation regulations and, in regions of the world where regulations may not exist, we adhere to industry best practices and animal welfare transportation requirements from third-party external audits. Our plants work with transporters to schedule journey times and trips that minimize animal stress as much as possible.
All our birds are loaded with care. This means a team works on how to load birds according to weather and road conditions. For example, transport times may be shifted to night or early morning and loading density may be reduced during hot spells. Our Canadian business has created an Emergency Response Trailer that can be accessed immediately in the event of a motor vehicle accident involving a truckload of animals destined for processing. The trailer is equipped with items needed at an emergency scene, such as euthanasia equipment, emergency apparel, tarps, etc. It is one of only two such trailers in the Province of Ontario.
Members of our Canadian team have been trained by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on low-stress chicken catching techniques and transport drivers have all been certified with Canadian Livestock Transport.
Industry standards and guidelines
All our birds are handled with care using low-stress methods and in alignment with regulations of their respective countries of origin.
- All broilers processed at our Canadian facility abide by the Chicken Farmers of Canada’s (CFC) Animal Care guidelines as well as the National Chicken Council’s (NCC) animal care best practice guidelines. See also the National Farm Animal Care Council (NFACC) broiler chicken code of practice.
- Our U.K. poultry supply chain has achieved 100% accreditation under the Red Tractor, or equivalent, food assurance schemes for high standards of animal welfare, food safety and hygiene. Our overall European business has best-practice handling aligned with its strict local animal welfare legislation.
- In China, all broilers are in accordance with the Chinese Broiler Welfare Industry Standard.
- Similarly, our Philippines operations are aligned with legislation that covers best practices both on farm and at the processing plant.
- Our Thai business is also aligned with national best-practice guidelines for bird handling at the farm and strict animal welfare legislation that applies to transportation and processing plants.
- The rest of our broiler businesses adhere to the best practices that generally mirror those of the NCC as well as incorporating local best practices.
We, and our suppliers, raise broiler chickens in many parts of the world, some of which have specific farm animal welfare regulations. We handle and care for our birds at a level that often exceeds regulatory requirements where regulations do exist and, in regions where they do not, our birds are cared for with the same level of responsibility and industry best practices.
- In the European Union (EU), we comply with regulations governing animal processing and its regulations on the protection of animals during transport.
- In Canada, our suppliers follow the Canadian Code of Practice and our supply chain follows the Canadian transport regulations/Canada Health of Animal Regulations.
We actively pursue innovation to optimize the comfort of animals in our care. Some examples:
- Since 2019, Cargill is recording 24/7 audio of poultry flocks at two of our locations in China and video at four poultry houses in Canada. Audio and video streams are analyzed using artificial intelligence technology to measure the level of comfort or stress that the animals experience and to assess their walking ability. Results obtained suggest that this system permits early detection of emerging health and welfare challenges about 10 days before an increase in mortality is observed. This provides farm staff valuable time to treat an issue early with less medication and adverse impact on performance. Currently, system prototypes are being developed and testing is being rolled out to additional farms in Thailand, Poland, China and Canada.
- Cargill is testing new feed formulation technology that improves digestibility and reduces the excretion of unused proteins that can break down to ammonia and adversely impact the health and condition of birds’ feet.