Antibiotic Use

By |May 5th, 2015|

Tyson – We are striving to eliminate human antibiotics from our broiler chicken* production by September 2017 and we’ll publish the progress made toward this goal beginning with our 2015 Sustainability Report.

Antibiotic-resistance is a global concern and we see it as our responsibility to be part of a solution. We’ve already made a lot progress. We’ve stopped using them in our 35 hatcheries and have reduced the use of human antibiotics in our broiler chickens by more than 80 percent since 2011. Only a small percentage of our broiler chickens ever receive human antibiotics. These medicines are given only as needed and only as prescribed by a veterinarian.

We’re also forming working groups with independent farmers and others in our beef, pork and turkey supply chains to discuss ways to reduce the use of human antibiotics on their farms. Those groups will begin meeting in summer 2015. Tyson Foods’ international business is committed to taking similar measures on antibiotic use in its global chicken operations but has not set a timeframe.

To meet our goal we must find new ways to reduce the need for human antibiotics on the farm. We have a responsibility to treat sick animals and animal well-being will never be compromised. We plan to work with food industry, government, veterinary, public health and academic communities, and provide funding, to accelerate research into disease prevention and antibiotic alternatives on the farm. We also are getting input from an Animal Well-Being Advisory Panel, which is made up of independent advisors.

*Broilers are chickens raised for meat.

U.S. bird flu outbreak may mean no turkey for Thanksgiving

By |May 5th, 2015|

P.J. Huffstutter
CHICAGO — Reuters
Published Tuesday, May. 05 2015, 7:52 AM EDT
Last updated Tuesday, May. 05 2015, 8:52 AM EDT

The largest-ever U.S. outbreak of avian influenza, which has devastated Midwestern poultry and egg producers in recent weeks, could be felt at Thanksgiving tables across the nation come November, farmers and some trade groups say.

The virulent H5N2 strain has already spread to 14 states and led to the deaths or scheduled euthanizations of more than 21 million birds, including 3.3 million turkeys in Minnesota, the nation’s top turkey producer.
The federal government is working on a vaccine to fight an outbreak of H5N2 bird flu in six states. The outbreak is being described as the country’s largest in 30 years. Jillian Kitchener reports.

And now, with Thanksgiving just seven months away, farmers say they may be running out of time to raise enough turkeys –the traditional centerpiece of holiday feasts – to meet the demand.

Once a farm has been infected, flocks must be culled, composted in barns, then disposed of. Buildings must then be thoroughly disinfected. The whole process can take up to three months before a new flock of turkey poults can be brought in, said Steve Olson, executive director of the Minnesota Turkey Growers Association.

After chicks are re-introduced to the barns, farmers say, it typically takes about four months to produce a full-sized hen – the type of turkey most Americans prefer for their holiday feasts.

If breeder farms that supply the young birds have also been infected – as some in Minnesota have – simply acquiring the chicks could prove challenging.

And in Minnesota, there’s still no sign of an end to the outbreak, despite tight biosecurity measures and quarantines. Already, at least one turkey processing plant has cut back on workers’ shifts because of a lack of birds to slaughter.

“We’re going to have fewer turkeys coming out because of this,” Olson said.

“The question we can’t answer is how much this is going to impact our total system, because this isn’t over yet,” he added.

Of the nearly 240 million turkeys raised last year in the United States, nearly one in five came from Minnesota farms. About 30 per cent of the Minnesota birds are sold as whole turkeys at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The remaining 70 per cent are sold year-round for deli meat, frozen meals, ground turkey and other products, according to industry data.

“There’s a sense of pride in farmers, in what they do,” Olson said, in a state where farms have often been in the same family for generations. “This is challenging their belief in their ability to raise turkeys, because they have not been able to stop the disease, despite them doing everything they can do from a biosecurity standpoint.”

As the reach of the virus continues to expand, companies up and down the turkey supply chain are watching closely.

Tyson Foods Inc said on Monday that the avian influenza has affected some of its turkey contract farms in neighboring Iowa, where farmers have had to euthanize birds.

While that loss could affect production levels at its turkey plant sometime this summer, Tyson does not produce the whole turkeys typically used at Thanksgiving dinners. Its turkey division is a small part of the company’s overall business, and Tyson does not expect the loss to have a material financial impact.

Food retailers are also monitoring the spread of the virus.

Boston Market Corp. said it has been assured by Butterball LLC, one of its main turkey suppliers, that the company’s birds are being raised in areas not affected by the flu outbreak.

But Boston Market Chief Financial Officer Greg Uhing said the company is watching the situation. Butterball declined to discuss specific supply-chain arrangements it has in place with its customers.

Meanwhile, some help for holiday feasts could come from cold storage, where stocks of whole turkey hens were at 98.7 million pounds as of the end of March, a 24 per cent jump over February and up 16 per cent over the same period a year earlier, according to federal Agriculture Department data.

Raising birds for Thanksgiving and Christmas meals begins early in the year, with turkeys slaughtered and stored in cold storage to meet the demand at year’s end, say industry officials.

Some producers are confident that supplies will largely keep pace with demand.

“There is some wiggle room” for the holidays, said Darrell Glaser, who raises 600,000 turkeys a year for Cargill Inc at his family’s Bar G Ranch in Rogers, Texas.

“You may see a small impact,” said Glaser, who raises the variety of turkeys sold for Thanksgiving. “Unless this outbreak gets a lot worse, I don’t see it having a huge impact on our overall supply.”

Still, Glaser’s not taking any chances. He has increased biosecurity measures on his farm and told staff not to get close to any wild birds. Visits to nearby farms have stopped, and any trips to the Midwest have been put on hold.

Cleaning Up The Ag Supply Chain

By |October 25th, 2013|

We live in age where the flood of data and information through an increasing number of outlets has reduced our attention spans to that of a gnat. Branding guru Sally Hogshead says it’s nine seconds.