CHICAGO Jan 9 Tyson Foods Inc., the nation's
second largest pork producer, said Thursday it will require more
humane animal treatment farmers that raise its pigs and keep a
closer eye on all of its hog suppliers in North America.
Tyson said it will be rolling out more third-party
inspections this year of sow farms that supply it animals. And
after an undercover video last year caught an Oklahoma farm
operation abusing some of Tyson's own pigs, the company will
require all to install video-monitoring systems by year's end,
according to a letter Tyson sent out to farmers on Wednesday.
Tyson also said in the letter it will force its contract
farmers to stop euthanizing sick or injured piglets by blunt
force, such as slamming a piglet's head against the ground in
order to kill it.
Many of these new hog rules for hog producers, according to
the letter sent out this week, are required for only those
farmers that raise pigs owned by Tyson: Less than 5 percent of
the company's annual hog supply in North America comes from
these operations, Mickelson said.
The company is also asking these contract farmers to roll
out pens for pregnant sows that have improved "quality and
quantity of space," according to the letter.
The letter did not specify what such enclosures should be,
but noted that "we believe future sow housing should allow sows
of all sizes to stand, turn around, lie down and stretch their
The majority of Tyson's hogs are supplied by more than 3,000
independent operators, the company said.
Tyson said it is encouraging these independent farmers, who
sell their animals to Tyson's slaughter plants, to adopt all
these new changes, but only the additional third-party audits
will be required of such operators this year.
The letter was delivered weeks after Tyson Foods terminated
its contract with the Oklahoma-based operation after undercover
video footage was released showing farm workers hitting pigs
with wooden boards, kicking animals and gouging their eyes.
The company's policy changes were not in reaction to any one
incident, but part of an ongoing push for "responsible animal
practices" among all of its suppliers, said company spokesman
"We're trying to balance the expectations of consumers with
the realities of today's hog farming business," Mickelson said.