Governance and Animal Welfare management
JBS has specialist teams to manage this issue working with each type of protein and using techniques that are constantly being improved based on best market practices. The company has also adopted an Animal Welfare policy for each business, based on a Formal Policy or Technical Regulation format, comprising the company’s Quality Book.
JBS also has an Animal Welfare Committee, which was set up in 2017 with representatives from the Sustainability, Quality, Animal Welfare, Agriculture and Livestock and Corporate Communications areas. The committee sets guidelines to ensure the issue is constantly evolving at the company. To support this approach, the company makes annual investments to improve its plants and encourage best practices that continually improve Animal Welfare throughout the supply chain.
All action taken at the company’s various operations are based on policies or principles that take into consideration animals’ five fundamental freedoms, as stated by the Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC):
Best practices in Animal Welfare are closely related to JBS’s success. This is why our work routines comply with humane slaughter principles. This is a fundamental issue for the company, which it handles very strictly. In addition to conventional slaughter, the company also slaughters animals in accordance with the religious and other specific precepts of particular markets.
Our production units also receive frequent audits from domestic and foreign customers, who check sanitation, Animal Welfare, quality, traceability, nutrition and other criteria during the verification process.
To ensure that company practices and initiatives are adopted throughout the value chain, the company focuses on three specific phases:
Animal breeding is a fundamental stage where we monitor Animal Welfare practices. Each protein chain employs best global practices in line with specific requirements.
Importantly, practices such as cloning and genetic engineering are not used in the JBS supply chain and the company does not use any type of growth hormone in Brazil.
JBS has approximately 70 thousand Brazilian cattle suppliers. This means the Company is supplied entirely by third-party farms.
To ensure that JBS cattle supplier farms adopt best practices, the company offers training courses based on the Best Handling Practices Manual (abstracts available below) from the Etco Group (Animal Ecology and Etiology Study and Research Group), which is the result of work done by the Faculty of Agricultural and Veterinary Sciences at the Paulista State University “Julio Mesquita Filho” (FCAV-Unesp) focusing on Animal Welfare. Courses, which began in 2016, are held to reinforce farm employee guidance on the importance of correctly handling animals to avoid suffering and injuries. The project will continue in the years ahead and be available to more farms.
Approximately 25% of the cattle JBS purchases in Brazil spends between 90 and 120 days in feedlots, but spend the rest of their time, until they are 2.5 to 3 years old, on pasture. The remaining animals, or 75% of what we purchase, spend their entire lives on pasture.
Seara has over 9,000 integrated chicken, turkey and pork producers in Brazil, split between its own farms and integrated producers.
At both proprietary and integrated farms, animals are only fed on natural ingredients produced by the company. The mixture, including corn, soybeans and other grains, does not contain any type of growth hormone, as required by Brazilian law. In addition to the animal feed, the company also supplies producers with inputs such as chicks, vitamins, chlorine, disinfectant and, when necessary, drug prescriptions from the company vet.
Producers receive ongoing support and training and are periodically visited by the Company’s technical team, which has over 300 staff out in the field, to check that the practices adopted are in line with JBS’s principles and provide producers with guidance on best practices.
Seara provide Technical Orientations (TOs) that define the criteria producers must adopt. In addition to the TO’s, producers use checklists and other control forms providing Animal Welfare indicators that can be monitored and controlled on a systematic basis.
Indicators such as housing density, the percentage of calluses on poultry feeds, initial and final feasibility percentages, nutritional levels, availability of appropriate feed, water quality and availability controls, compliance with the five fundamental freedoms and environmental controls (temperature, humidity, ventilation, lighting and “bed” quality) are all controlled by producers to guarantee Animal Welfare throughout the production process.
In poultry breeding, there are limits on housing density based on best market practices, which means all pork have enough room to move around freely and access the substrate (also known as the aviary bed), so they can behave naturally. A minimum period of at least four hours’ uninterrupted darkness is also employed at all farms to ensure the animals have an appropriate rest period.
There is no debeaking on broiler farms. On breeder farms, a laser process is only used on males to avoid the females being injured during copulation. This is the most modern practice on the market and in line with current Animal Welfare best practices.
Seara has gradually reduced the amount of antibiotics used in production, which are not employed on a preventive basis, and is committed to making further inroads to reduce medication in the years ahead.
The ‘Today has Chicken’ (www.hojetemfrango.com.br) platform has a lot of information on chicken production that can help understand how Seara implements Animal Welfare production practices. Watch the links below to find out more (portuguese version):
In pork breeding, there are limits on housing density based on best market practices, which means all poultry have enough room to move around freely and behave naturally.
Tooth clipping is not employed on farms that produce Seara piglets. Changes to the way animals are handled means this practice has been abandoned. Tail docking is still used to avoid problems among adult hogs, as keeping the tail intact could facilitate cannibalism among the animals. This is internationally recognized as the best procedure for ensuring that production complies with modern Animal Welfare standards.
Surgical castration is also no longer employed in the JBS piglet production process. The company currently employs immunological castration, which is more comfortable and less stressful for piglets.
The company is working to guarantee that best practices are employed when transporting animals from farms to our facilities.
The supplier farms are at an average distance of 166 km from JBS’ production units. To ensure quality during transportation, drivers receive six-monthly training from JBS and an outsourced company (SBC).
We frequently invest in modern fleets that reduce the risk of animal injury, falls and accidents. JBS is leading a first-of-a-kind project in Brazil and has launched a truck that has been developed specifically to ensure Animal Welfare, offering more space and quality during cattle transportation. The fleet is operated by JBS Transportadora, a group company that provides transportation for products and animals, and was developed to make travelling as comfortable as possible for the animals with more internal head height, internal dividers without sharp edges and a hydraulic elevator, for better organization during animal embarkation and disembarkation, while making it easier to handle the cattle.
JBS currently operates around 200 Animal Welfare trucks. In addition to the benefits for the animals, the production chain also reduces the number of cattle injuries, which improves the quality of meat that reaches consumers.
JBS invests in ongoing employee training on best handling practices during transportation and at processing plant corrals. It also has a technical partnership with some of the world’s foremost experts in this area, including Dr. Temple Grandin and Prof. Dr. Mateus Paranhos, from the Paulista State University (UNESP).
Animal transportation from farms to meatpacking units is only performed by trained teams to minimize animal stress, avoid injury during transportation and guarantee adequate spacing inside transport boxes or on the truck.
The company provide drivers with emergency procedures if the vehicle breaks down, is blocked en route, suffers an accident or fire or needs to change a tire.
In order to reduce the time animals spend in transit, logistics planning teams look at the best routes, starting points and destinations. Maximum distances between farms and meatpacking units are defined to guarantee animal comfort.
Transport routines are managed using indicators, such as cage density and weight during loading and mortality percentages, to guarantee appropriate practices are adopted.
Practices aligned with the Company’s Animal Welfare policy are adopted from the time the animal arrives at our facility until it is slaughtered. In order to ensure these steps are implemented, JBS carries out periodic training courses for the drivers responsible for transporting animals from farms to meatpacking units, the people who receive the animals and handle them in the corrals and slaughter room and the teams monitoring these procedures.
JBS’s beef operation is also one of the only ones in the country that uses cameras to monitor Animal Welfare at all cattle units. This means the company is able to monitor the entire process from unloading to slaughter and increase engagement with staff responsible for animal handling.
In order to increase compliance with the JBS’s Animal Welfare policy, in 2016 employees were asked to sign a document acknowledging they have been informed of the company’s guidelines. An e-learning platform was also the same year created offering courses on best practices in Animal Welfare. The course, which uses videos to demonstrate handling techniques, has now been included in factory team training programs.
Watch the video below to find out more:
In 2016, Seara produced a specific checklist that quality teams at industrial units use to evaluate Animal Welfare indicators on a quarterly basis, complying with issue-related ethical, legal and technical principles. The checklist was based on current legislation, recommendations from the WAP – World Animal Protection NGO and customer requirements and certifications. This routine includes developing action plans to address any issues that arise.
Indicators such as transportation density and appropriate unloading conditions, ambience and waiting conditions, stunning efficiency, fasting times, bleeding efficiency, injuries and transportation mortality records (with root cause studies when required) are all included on the checklist.
Temperature is also an important factor that we monitor. On arrival at the factory, the poultry is transferred to a waiting area held at a comfortable temperature that uses a ventilation and/or nebulizer system, with adequate coverings to protect against direct sunlight and adverse weather, such as rain, wind, hail, etc. Ambient temperature and humidity are monitored at all units and controlled using a set of visual, electronic and thermal indicators.
Prior to slaughter, each production unit has at least one person who is responsible on each shift who holds a certificate in Animal Welfare training.
The whole hanging team is trained in correct poultry handling techniques to avoid injury and stress. The meatpacking management area is responsible for ensure a sufficient number of employees is on the hanging line throughout the process, and that it runs at a speed that does not cause the poultry stress or anguish. After hanging, the animal are stunned and only animals that have been properly stunned are slaughtered.
In 2016, Seara also produced a specific checklist that quality teams at industrial units use to evaluate Animal Welfare indicators on a quarterly basis, complying with issue-related ethical, legal and technical principles. The checklist was based on current legislation, recommendations from the WAP – World Animal Protection NGO and customer requirements and certifications. This routine includes developing action plans to address any issues that arise.
Indicators such as transportation density and appropriate unloading conditions, ambience and waiting conditions, stunning efficiency, fasting times, bleeding efficiency, slips/falls and transportation mortality records (with root cause studies when required) are all included on the checklist.
When purchasing pork from third parties, they are contractually required to comply with technical requirements or production regulations, which are monitored on arrival, alongside production and laboratory controls.
Prior to slaughter, each production unit has at least one person who is responsible on each shift who holds a certificate in Animal Welfare training. Employees working directly with live animals are trained at least once a year and their work focuses on best Animal Welfare and handling practices.
Prior to slaughter, the animal is stunned to ensure it feels no pain during the process. Control methods are used to ensure stunning is effective, such as using appropriate electrical parameters and keeping the electrodes clean and in good condition, ensuring that pigs’ skin is damp and not excessively dirty. When using CO2, we ensure that gas concentrations, time spent in the chamber and the number of pigs are all within appropriate parameters.
Livestock Technical Committee
Seara is a member of the Livestock Technical Committee, run by the GlobalGAP quality certification company, where it discusses and defines global Animal Welfare trends, requirements and parameters. For further information on this initiative, please click here.
Use of antibiotics
Seara is committed to reducing the medication used throughout its supply chain every year. This means drugs are only administered when strictly required and on veterinary recommendation, to avoid comprising Animal Welfare and the end product’s quality.
The Company has committed in 2017 to purchasing commercial eggs used as ingredients in its products only from farms where chickens are bred without cages. By 2020, JBS products made in Brazil will no longer use eggs produced by caged birds.
In 2015, Seara committed to transition its hog production system from individual to collective gestation. This is a European standard, which requires a maximum of 28 days’ gestation in individual bays, with the remained of the gestation period spent in collective bays.
Even prior to 2015, the company already had females using the collective gestation system. However, after formally adopting the commitment, the company has invested in new initiatives and adapted its systems to increase production in collective bays. New projects or expansions are built using this standard and the company is helping integrated suppliers comply with the commitment, to ensure the collective gestation system is in place throughout the supply chain by 2025.
Best practices in Animal Welfare have allowed the company to create a range of differentiated products. One of these is Seara DaGranja, which uses chickens bred at exclusive farms using 100% vegetable feed and no antibiotics or anticoccidians, which is guaranteed by traceability throughout the production chain. This product also holds international Animal Welfare certification.
For more information about how Seara DaGranja chickens are bred, acess the links below (portuguese version).
Visit “Today has chicken” plataform to find out more “Today has Chicken (Portuguese)” .
Another standout project in terms of best Animal Welfare practices is the Frango Caipira, Nhô Bento, made using a special breed of free range chickens.
For more information about how Nhô Bento chickens are bred, access the link below (Portuguese version).
Visit the “Today has chicken” plataform to find out more “Today has Chicken (Portuguese)” .
PAACO – Professional Animal Auditor Certification Organization
Protocols from international customers
Pork and poultry
BRC – British Retail Consortium
WQS in Animal Welfare
Protocols from international customers
In 2015 and 2016, JBS was ranked one of the best in the world for its Animal Welfare practices, according to the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW), a global, annual report produced by two international NGOs: World Animal Protection (WAP) and Compassion in World Farming (CIWF). In 2017, JBS obtained a Level 2 classification in the Global Animal Welfare ranking (the categories range from 1 to 6). The company rose from Level 3 to Level 2 as a result of its best practices and transparency in this area.
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Annual Performance Report