Our Recent Achievements
Farm animal welfare is a collective issue for the food industry. Making progress and raising standards across the industry require individual companies to support research and development programs to improve farm animal welfare; to share their knowledge and expertise with their suppliers and with their industry peers; to play a supportive role in public policy debates around farm animal welfare; and to support industry and stakeholder initiatives directed at improving farm animal welfare.
At Cargill, we offer products to meet a variety of consumer desires around animal welfare and health. We also engage in partnerships and other industry leadership to help promote animal welfare. These efforts include:
- In 2020, we announced a new partnership with Heifer International, Ausvet and the International Poultry Council, and funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), that will work together to improve animal agriculture in Africa and Asia. In addition to the potential impacts to human health by reducing the risk of infectious disease, the five-year Transformational Strategies for Farm Output Risk Mitigation (TRANSFORM) project will harness innovation to help farm animals live better lives and more healthy days. Work will take place on both large and small farms across a variety of species, helping farmers and governments alike make data-driven decisions to improve animal health.
- Also in 2020, we joined the U.S. CattleTrace program, an effort by multiple state cattlemen’s associations to develop a national infrastructure for animal disease traceability in the U.S. cattle industry. Using ear tags and radio frequency technology to collect critical data, the program will assist animal health officials by responding to animal disease events in the U.S. cattle herd.
- In 2016, Cargill was the first major beef processor to announce a significant reduction (20%) of antibiotics used for people and animals in the beef supply it can control. By the end of 2020, we reduced the use of shared-class antibiotics in 35% of the fed beef cattle that we process in the U.S.
- We are partnering with the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom on a project to evaluate and optimize bird handling and welfare. At the end of 2018, our facility and bird handlers received Poultry Welfare Officer (PWO) certification. The University of Bristol PWO certification is widely recognized by retailers, industry and policymakers throughout the UK and European Union as providing highly regarded animal welfare training.
- For more than three decades, Cargill has collaborated with renowned animal welfare expert Dr. Temple Grandin, as well as fellow researcher Dr. Lily Edwards-Callaway and their graduate students at Colorado State University, on numerous animal welfare projects. Dr. Grandin’s innovative designs for cattle receiving areas were integrated into our slaughter facilities many years ago. Today, our shared research is helping to further improve cattle wellbeing. Additionally, we meet regularly with their team, including on-site visits and discussions with our leaders, staff and customers, about how we can continue to drive progress across the industry.
- In 2021, we published a new paper based on research done with Dr. Edwards-Callaway, Elanco Animal Health and others focused on how to prevent negative impacts to cattle welfare and mobility resulting from supply chain slowdowns caused by COVID-19. We also continue to innovate new or upgraded tools such as captive bolt devices (to reduce the likelihood of ineffective stunning in cattle) and air prods (to replace electric cattle prods). And we engage with academic institutions and other partners to research animal handling techniques and practices. In 2019, our research on captive bolt stunning was published in a scientific journal.
- To help improve the nutrition, health and wellbeing of farm animals all around the world, we provide training to hundreds of thousands of farmers each year in sustainable agricultural practices, which can include topics like animal husbandry and health. For instance, we launched the Hatching Hope Global Initiative with Heifer International, which seeks to help small farmers – especially women – improve their livelihoods through poultry farming that incorporates sustainable practices. In 2021, Hatching Hope expanded to Kenya, with ongoing work in India and Mexico. Worldwide since 2017, attendance at our farmer trainings has totaled 4.1 million, with a goal of reaching 10 million by 2030.
- Our global animal nutrition and health business is a leading innovator in nutrition formulation, non-pharmaceutical additives and specialty ingredients, and farm management technology that all works together to improve the health and wellbeing of livestock, fish and shrimp. A network of global research facilities continuously innovates to improve the solutions available to farmers and ranchers to help ensure their animals are healthy, well-cared for and safe. Meanwhile, our Diamond V® brand of fermentation-based products works naturally to support animals’ immune systems and defend against health challenges. And our digital tools help farmers monitor their animals’ health, performance and environmental conditions, allowing farmers to make changes to improve their animals’ wellbeing.
- We pioneered a new system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to monitor and analyze broiler chicken vocalizations and understand the implications for their wellbeing. We are piloting and testing this system in our poultry operations in China. The system is designed to detect health issues before they are apparent to the human eye. This will help us take corrective actions earlier to stem potential health concerns within our flocks, so we can also reduce the need to use antibiotics. We are continuing to refine and advance these technologies in our Canadian poultry operations as well.
- We are developing an AI-driven computer vision analytics system to assess chicken walking ability and leg health, and we are testing the system at pilot farms in China and Canada. The system aims to enable early detection of certain potential health and welfare issues in flocks, allowing farmers and technical support staff to address and mitigate issues quickly.
- Litter quality in housing facilities can strongly influence a broiler’s leg health. We are investigating how “green” technologies can keep litter in a drier, more friable state that positively impacts animal welfare. A team in our European poultry operations conducted an evaluation involving more than two dozen chicken houses in the U.K. and France to measure the impact of switching to renewable, indirect biomass heating sources outside the houses and the use of heat exchangers to recover energy. The team explored whether this technology linked with reverse flow ventilation systems—fans in the roof with side-wall air inlets—provided additional benefits. Results concluded that the chickens’ leg health improved, and analysis of energy usage confirmed that the renewable technologies reduced the carbon footprint of the chicken houses by approximately 30%.
- Cargill’s U.S. egg operation convenes a yearly summit with our key egg producer suppliers to share best practices on biosecurity, cage-free production and other animal welfare topics.
- Cargill is a founding member of the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Poultry and Eggs and chairs the roundtable’s Framework Committee. The roundtable includes animal health and welfare as key indicators in its framework. This framework helps consumers, customers and other stakeholders better understand the sustainability of egg, turkey and broiler products they are purchasing or considering.
- Likewise, Cargill is a founding member of the Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and the U.S. Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and serves on the board of directors for each. These roundtables include animal welfare as one of five key principles in their frameworks. Cargill has been a member of the U.S. roundtable’s Indicator Working Group and served as the sector lead on the Engagement, Measurement and Progress Working Group. Cargill also serves on the Communications Council and the Global Goals Working Group.
- Additionally, Cargill is a founding member of the Canadian Roundtable for Sustainable Beef and serves on its council. Animal health and welfare is one of five key principles for the roundtable. Cargill has participated in the Indicator and Verification Committee and currently serves on the Framework, Scientific and Communications and Marketing Committees. We are the first processor to use the roundtable’s Certified Sustainable Beef Framework in our supply chain.
- Cargill was a founding member of the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply and served on the coalition’s leadership, research and communications committees. Today, the coalition’s commercial-scale, scientific research is fundamental in helping producers and others understand the benefits and potential drawbacks of various housing types.
- In 2018, Cargill was honored as the recipient of Compassion in World Farming’s (CIWF) Good Chicken Production Award. This award recognizes Chinese producers that are making significant commitments to improving the welfare of broilers. Visit this site for more details about this award.
- In 2018, Cargill donated US$150,000 to the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture to build a state-of-the-art facility to house research aimed at disease prevention. Today, the Cargill Poultry Research Center looks for new ways to address the most challenging disease issues, from vaccines and bird behavior to novel products.
- Our poultry operations in China were recognized in 2014 with China’s first animal welfare award by the Chinese Veterinary Medical Association, the China Association for the Promotion of International Agricultural Cooperation and the World Society for the Protection of Animals.
- In 2018, Cargill received China’s Good Chicken Production Award from Compassion in World Farming. The Award recognizes Chinese producers that are making significant commitments to improving the welfare of broilers by addressing stocking density, breed and the need for environmental enrichment.