U.S. Turkey Business
Cargill is a major processor of turkeys in the U.S., with 600 independent family farms supplying turkeys to our four processing plants located in Arkansas, Missouri and Virginia. We educate and certify our contract growers on proper bird handling.
Our turkey business incorporates programs developed by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization (PAACO) trained employees and veterinarians. All Cargill employees, contractors and farmers working with live birds are trained on animal handling, before they ever handle a bird. In the U.S., we employ third-party Remote Video Auditing for animal welfare purposes, allowing us to audit more than 47,000 turkeys weekly.
When we employ loading crews for transporting turkeys to our processing facilities, the crews are trained on how to properly move and load birds to minimize stress. Our guidelines are based on the National Turkey Federations guidelines with oversight from our welfare committee made up of internal and external welfare experts.
Handling on the farm
Cargill educates and certifies all our contract growers about how to properly handle birds. Our turkey business in the U.S. runs programs managed by the Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization-trained staff, to educate employees, growers, and incident first responders on animal handling, before ever handling a bird. We also train these groups on bird welfare in emergency situations.
Our turkey welfare advisory committee annually reviews our current program and provides new research for our consideration to implement into our program.
Handling at processing
Our loading crews are trained on how to properly move and load birds to minimize stress. We have programs and equipment in place to decrease environmental stress from the wide range of ambient temperatures birds may experience.
Trailers are equipped to keep birds warmer during cooler weather, and during hot weather we have programs to mitigate heat stress. In the rare event of a transportation emergency, Cargill employees are trained for response and have preassembled kits and special incident response trailers.
Industry standards and guidelines
Our turkey business created a turkey welfare advisory committee to provide oversight and guidance on animal welfare. The committee includes both internal Cargill veterinarians and animal welfare experts, in addition to industry and academic subject matter experts.
The turkey welfare advisory committee monitors program requirements and the business’s audits findings, and provides guidance related to future program changes that are founded upon science-based new technologies and/or customer requirements.
- All Cargill-owned birds are raised, processed and handled according to National Turkey Federation guidelines.
- Our key marketing claims are USDA Process Verified.
- Our programs are managed by PAACO-trained staff, and we educate growers and employees alike on animal handling.
- Loading crews for transporting birds to our processing facilities are trained to properly load and move them, minimizing stress. This training is based on National Turkey Federation guidelines.
Although the U.S. doesn’t have turkey welfare regulations, we abide by best practices developed by industry and academic experts as a baseline for our welfare programs.