This past week we were made aware of a video produced by an animal and vegetarian advocacy group that shows improper treatment of birds by some of our employees on chicken breeder farms in Virginia. We are disgusted by the actions of the individuals in the video. We do not tolerate this type of activity, and all of the employees in the video have been fired. It was an obvious decision given that the entire crew was trained in proper animal handling yet chose to ignore it and failed to alert management of the mistreatment.
In addition to firing these individuals, we are taking the following actions:
- Over the next few days, we will be meeting with everyone in poultry operations who handles live birds to aggressively re-emphasize the importance of proper animal handling and the consequences of not complying with the company’s animal welfare policies.
- We have already reached out to local authorities who will decide whether to pursue criminal charges against these individuals, and we will fully cooperate with their investigation.
- The practice of beak modification shown in the video is a historical way the industry has used to keep males from eating food intended for females and we have been eliminating its use. It had been stopped at all but two chicken operations and now has been immediately discontinued at those two locations as well.
While we already have animal well-being audit and training programs, we believe we haven’t gone far enough and must do more to stop this inexcusable behavior. We’re evaluating additional steps we can take to make sure animal well-being procedures are being followed throughout our chicken operations. Once we complete our investigation into this matter, we intend to implement any measures necessary to protect the well-being of the birds being raised for our company.
More information about our commitment to animal well-being can be found here: http://bit.ly/AnimalWB