Salisbury, Maryland-based Perdue Farms hosted its seventh annual Animal Care Summit near its headquarters after two years of hosting the annual event virtually. Since announcing the company’s commitments to animal care in 2016, the summit has been a key part of Perdue’s animal care strategy.
“Now in our second century of business, we at Perdue Farms are proud to continue making advancements and leading our industry in the standards to which we raise our animals,” said Mark McKay, president of Perdue Premium poultry and meats.
“Animal husbandry and stewardship, including strong connections to our farmers and transparency with our stakeholders, keep our animals healthier and we believe translate to a better product for consumers.”
During the event, attendees – including NGOs, farmers, customers, academia and employees – toured the company’s research farm to see progress from ongoing animal husbandry studies including:
- Pasture choice: planting vegetation in free-range pastures to study which options the birds gravitate to the most, as part of ongoing research around enticing birds with outdoor access to spend more time outside.
- Feed choice: instead of providing chickens feed with all-in-one nutrition, Perdue provided birds with the option to choose between feed with higher protein versus higher energy components, and studied which they preferred and how it impacted their growth and health.
- RFID: providing an update to its research using RFID technology to track how frequently free-range chickens access their paddock.
- On-farm hatch: studying the feasibility and benefits of allowing chicks to hatch in the chicken house rather than a hatchery to improve early care.
Perdue gathered members of the Better Chicken Commitment Working Group for a discussion panel focused on how organizations are working across the multi-stakeholder group to advance standards for raising broiler chickens.
As consumers desire to know more about how the food they eat is grown and made, another panel of experts discussed the importance of transparency in consumer communications, which is a tenant of Perdue’s approach to animal husbandry.
Additionally, experts shared modern research related to how animal welfare and diet can translate to consumer benefits, including improved product flavor and nutrition, as well as how modern measurement of animal welfare practices can improve the implementation of learnings.
Coinciding with the annual summit, the company published its “2022 Commitments to Animal Care Report.” Perdue’s Animal Care program includes about 90 initiatives within the company’s four-part plan to accelerate its progress in poultry care.
To view the full report, visit perdueanimalcare.com.