As part of the company's animal well-being program, Tyson Foods on Thursday released the text of a letter sent to all hog farmers supplying the company, urging them to take several steps towards improved animal health.
Recommendations noted in the letter include:
• Increasing the number of third party sow farm audits conducted through the FarmCheck program;
• Urging producers to use video monitoring in their sow farms to increase oversight and decrease biosecurity risks;
• Encouraging hog producers to stop using manual blunt force as a primary method of euthanizing sick or injured piglets;
• And urging hog farmers to improve housing for pregnant sows by focusing on the quality and quantity of space provided, including urging all future sow barn construction or remodeling to allow for pregnant sows of all sizes to stand, lie down, stretch their legs and turn around.
Following the announcement, the National Pork Board clarified its on positions on many of the company's recommendations.
According to NPB," the National Pork Board continues to recognize and promote the opportunity for producers, working with their veterinarians, to make the best decisions for their farms, their families, their employees and their animals," noting that, "from a broad industry perspective, there are a number of important issues raised by (Tyson's) announcement."
NPB said the first issue is that there are no approved drugs for the use of pain mitigation in pig farming. Therefore, they encourage producers to work with their veterinarian in exploring compliance options for Tyson's recommendation.
Second, NPB said it continues to maintain the position supported by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Swine Veterinarians that there are numerous ways to provide proper housing and care for sows.
"Each housing system, including individual and group housing, free-access stalls and pastures, has welfare advantages and disadvantages that must be considered by a farmer," a NPB statement said. "Regardless of the type of system used, what really matters is the individual care given to each pig."
Finally, NPB said video monitoring can be a "useful tool" in auditing animal welfare on U.S. pig farms, but it is only one component of providing adequate care, and should be balanced with a "comprehensive approach" to welfare.