No matter the production system used, we are committed to raising healthy chickens by providing proper nutrition and full-service veterinary care.
Assessing the daily needs and health status of the chickens under our care is essential to ensuring their well-being. Our family farm partners are required to inspect the houses and chickens at least twice a day. They check for housing conditions such as ventilation, air quality, water, feed lines and bedding material quality, and closely observe eye health and lameness. Any chickens unable to thrive are humanely euthanized using an American Veterinary Medical Association or equivalent approved technique, such as cervical disarticulation. Pilgrim’s technicians also work with each farm family, visiting regularly and remaining on call for the farm 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to ensure humane conditions for our flocks. Our technicians inspect both the farm and the chickens during their visit, monitoring feed intake, all health issues such as eye and leg health, mortality, house and farm conditions, rodent and/or pest issues, proper ventilation, ammonia level, litter condition and adequacy of feed and water supply. Pilgrim’s technicians not only monitor the farm’s health plan, they also share their knowledge on how to raise healthier chickens.
Providing the proper nutrition to maintain appropriate body condition and optimize growth is critical to the overall health of our chickens. Our team of Ph.D. nutritionists formulates diets specific to the chicken’s life stage and adjusts diets, daily if necessary, to optimize growth and prevent nutritional deficiencies and digestive disorders. We manufacture our own feed in company-owned feed mills, using a proprietary mixture that includes corn, soybean meal and other grains.
Our licensed veterinarians establish and monitor all health and vaccine protocols and follow all government regulations. Our veterinarians perform routine health checks and are available for consultation on any issue. Each facility has a written health plan developed in consultation with our veterinarians and includes specifications regarding management, vaccination schedules, health monitoring and treatment, mortality and morbidity monitoring and measures taken to prevent disease transmission.
Pilgrim’s does not perform physical alterations to any of our chickens and only purchases roosters and breeders from companies with strict protocols in place to minimize stress related to these procedures.
“We are committed to always providing the highest standards of animal husbandry, welfare and biosecurity to ensure our poultry is of the highest standards from day one. Stockmanship, plus the training and supervision necessary to achieve required standards, are key factors in the handling and care of our birds. A management system may be acceptable in principle, but without competent, diligent stockmanship, the welfare of our birds cannot be adequately safeguarded.”
Head of Veterinary Services
Pilgrim’s Moy Park
Each Pilgrim’s facility has a comprehensive biosecurity program designed and implemented to prevent the introduction of infectious diseases to our chickens through human and animal vectors or contaminated equipment. Our biosecurity protocol addresses every aspect of our facilities: feed mill operations, feed delivery, transportation, vaccination and health management, visitors and auditors. All Pilgrim’s team members and family farm partners are trained according to our biosecurity protocols, and all visitors and vendors must be prescreened and approved before arriving at any of our locations. Sign-in logs are also required and maintained at all locations.
At Pilgrim’s, all antibiotics are used under the supervision of licensed and accredited doctors of veterinary medicine and only for the purposes of preventing, controlling or treating disease, rather than growth promotion or feed efficiency. Our antibiotic policy also requires written veterinary permission before the use of any antibiotics, enhanced record-keeping and tracking of all antibiotic use and training programs for Pilgrim’s team members to guarantee compliance with our comprehensive health and disease-prevention programs, including animal husbandry, hygiene, monitoring and vaccination.
Any use of antibiotics is strictly governed by national regulations and requires authorization by the overseeing doctor of veterinary medicine or veterinary surgeon who care for the chickens. Any medication used is licensed by the FDA or U.K. Veterinary Medicines Directorate and undergoes intense scrutiny before being approved for use. In Europe, records of medications used on farms are inspected by the auditors of the Red Tractor Scheme and by the local authority animal health inspectors as legally required. In addition, Pilgrim’s Moy Park has an Antimicrobial Stewardship Forum focused on the education of poultry producers in antimicrobial resistance and best practices to reduce antimicrobial usage and collects comprehensive data to give the poultry industry and regulators a clear picture of poultry-usage trends. Pilgrim’s Moy Park also established a Food Safety Forum to ensure chickens are healthy and products are safe. These forums include external experts who assist us with the latest scientific developments.
As part of our long-standing commitment to safeguard the welfare of our chickens, we treat all sick animals with antibiotics, if necessary, and then remove them from our antibiotic-free/NAE and organic programs. We will never allow a sick animal to suffer.
Some consumers have indicated a preference for eating chicken raised without the use of antibiotics, and we believe it is our duty to offer responsible options to those consumers. As such, we are proud to offer traditional chicken products, as well as antibiotic-free/NAE, vegetarian-fed and organic options for consumers to enjoy.
We are committed to reducing the use of antibiotics and have conducted extensive research to optimize management to reduce the incidence of disease and identify other products that can be used in place of antibiotics.
While we continue to innovate, adopt new products and improve management to reduce the incidence of disease, it is important to remember that we cannot completely replace antibiotics and ionophores for the treatment and prevention of disease. Pilgrim’s veterinary and nutrition teams will continue to work closely with companies that produce these alternative compounds, as well as universities and private researchers to make sure we are on the leading edge of innovation as we continue to provide our customers with wholesome, healthy and nutritious chicken products.
“Our first priority is to ensure the health, nutrition and overall well-being of the chickens under our care. I am proud of our continued commitment to provide our chickens with what they need to achieve optimum health.”
Elizabeth Dale, DVM
Head of Veterinary Services & Chief Animal Welfare Officer Pilgrim’s U.S.