of Perdue’s carbon
were cut over the
last three years.
Perdue Farms called last year a watershed year in terms of stewardship. It may be more apt to liken it to a time of sea change. After spending the first months of 2017 evalu- ating and calculating its efforts, Salisbury, Md.- based Perdue Farms released its 2016 Steward- ship Report mid-year, noting that the company underwent major shifts in poultry farming and production, emphasizing the impact on food,
the environment and animal care.
For example, Perdue became the first major poul-
try company to move all of its chicken production to a
no-antibiotics-ever program in 2016. The switch involved
removing all human and animal antibiotics from the feed
and hatchery, eliminating the use of antibiotics for growth
promotion and raising animals in a way that does not
require antibiotics for disease prevention. As for animal
sickness, Perdue has a policy of not withholding appropri-
ate treatment and will administer a short, targeted course
of antibiotics when a veterinarian prescribes them, which
happens in about 5% of chicken flocks.
The significant move came after stakeholder concerns
and a new consumer mindset and marketplace. “Our
Company Stewardship Report is a way of reporting back
to all stakeholders on what we’ve done, and are doing, to
address the things that matter to them,” said chairman
Jim Perdue in a statement, noting that antibiotic use was
one of the biggest areas of stakeholder concern.
In addition to its landmark declaration of no-antibiotics-ever, Perdue Farms responded to the other significant
stakeholder concern of animal welfare. To that end, the
third-generation company committed to major changes
in the way it raises chicken, following its platform of
believing in responsible food and agriculture.
Some of those changes included the goal of increasing
bird activity through natural lighting and enrichments,
and increasing the amount of space for chickens. Perdue
also sought research on slower-growing breeds and has
committed to move from electrical to gas stunning. In
2017, the company reported that it has made progress
on its goals of continuous improvement with greater
transparency, with steps like incentive pay and video
monitoring to emphasize appropriate care of birds,
among other initiatives.
The wave of changes continued at Perdue throughout
2016 and into 2017. The company instituted a compost
operation as part of its ongoing efforts to protect the Chesapeake Bay and Delmarva’s waterways. The new operation—a $12.5 million capital project—extended Perdue’s
program of handling surplus poultry litter from Delmarva
poultry farms, while adding the capacity to recycle nutrients from other by-products, many of which were previously land-applied.
Perdue’s leaders also sought to lower the company’s
water use, an effort that resulted in a 4.6% reduction. The
company hit a mark on carbon dioxide emissions as well,
cutting them by almost 6% over the last three years after
lowering its fossil fuel and electricity use.
For Perdue, the notion of stewardship extends to the
company’s employees. According to the Stewardship
Report, Perdue’s workplace safety record continued to
beat the average not just for poultry companies but also
that of all manufacturing workplaces, with a lost-time
rate one-fourth of that of the manufacturing sector. Perdue also received the highest number of safety awards of
any poultry company from the Joint Industry Safety and
Perdue Farms on
Manufacturer looks back on historic company
changes in sustainability and stewardship.