Butterball has announced significant additions and new changes to its animal care and well-being program – striving to set industry standards for the nation’s turkey producers. Dedicating significant resources over the past 18 months, Butterball has taken steps to renew and aggressively strengthen its commitment to ensuring the safety and care of its animals across four key focus areas:

1)      Animal Care and Well-Being Advisory Council: Butterball created a new, independent council of animal and poultry experts to help address important animal care, well-being and food safety issues today and in the future.

The council aims to facilitate open and transparent dialogue related to best practices and new developments in turkey well-being. Council members serve a two-year commitment and meet in-person on a bi-annual basis and participate in regular conference calls.

Council members for 2013 to 2015 are:

  • Temple Grandin, PhD, Professor of Animal Science, Colorado State University
  • Joy Mench, PhD, Professor of Animal Science, University of California-Davis
  • Yvonne Thaxton, PhD, Center for Animal Well-Being, University of Arkansas
  • Jesse Grimes, PhD, Poultry Science Extension Specialist, North Carolina State University
  • Michael Martin, PhD, Professor of Poultry Health Management, North Carolina State University

2)      Enriched Employee Training: As the welfare of its animals is in the hands of its employees, Butterball has increased and enriched its training program to ensure all employees are up-to-speed on company animal welfare standards, including its zero-tolerance policy.

One-hundred percent of workers in contact with Butterball’s live turkeys are trained before their first day on the farm – and all tenured employees will also undergo this mandatory training program. They will also participate in continual, targeted training sessions throughout the year based on a curriculum tailored for their specific job at Butterball.

“And, if anyone breaches our standards, our policy is zero tolerance. It’s easy to understand: If someone mistreats our turkeys – or fails to report mistreatment – it will not be tolerated including and up to losing employment with Butterball,” the company said in a statement.

3)      Independent American Humane Association (AHA) Certification: This is the nation’s first independent, third-party humane certification program for farm animals. Through rigorous inspections and examinations, the AHA audits and certifies that Butterball meets or exceeds its Humane Certification standards.

The American Humane Certified program was developed in 2000 and is the nation’s first independent, third-party humane certification program for farm animals. In 2013, AHA began a two-year, comprehensive audit of Butterball facilities examining growing conditions, care and handling practices and all operational procedures that impact care and well-being of Butterball turkeys throughout all growing stages.

Starting in 2013, Butterball’s fresh, whole turkeys are approved to carry the certification label as American Humane Certified product. Butterball has applied for certification on additional Butterball products, and the AHA is in the review process.

4)      Continuous Improvement of Operational Processes: Butterball is already putting the advice of the AHA and the advisory council of experts to use by evaluating on-farm and operational processes as a way to ensure the best animal care and handling procedures.

“That means, for example, pilot-testing video surveillance of our operations to ensure the best care and handling at all times,” the company said. “It also means pilot-testing new care and handling procedures and methods at our facilities in the spirit of continuous improvement to ensure the best in the industry.”

Butterball is currently developing several pilot projects that aim to verify proper animal care and well-being of its animals throughout their growth process, including the use of video surveillance and recurring internal audits + third party audits

“We are working diligently to continue our close relationships with all partners along Butterball’s supply chain to ensure the company’s animal care and well-being guidelines are rigorously enforced,” the company added.

Source: Butterball LLC