Raising Pilgrim’s Chickens
Caring for our customers starts with caring for our chickens.
In the Hatchery
At Pilgrim’s, the chicken comes first, then the eggs. We buy day-old chicks, called pullets, from primary breeder companies and raise them to be breeders. The breeder hens lay eggs that are collected and taken to our hatcheries, where they are incubated and hatched. When the eggs hatch, the chicks are sent to contract grow-out farms to be raised to maturity.
At the Feed Mill
Pilgrim’s owns and operates multiple feed mills, which are strategically located in the areas where we have processing operations.
We manufacture our feed using a proprietary mixture that includes corn, soybean meal and other grains, and we feed our chickens only natural ingredients. We do not use growth hormones of any kind in our poultry rations.
Once the feed has been formulated, pelleted and blended at the feed mill, it’s loaded into feed trucks that deliver the finished feed to local growout farms.
On the Farm
We highly value our relationships with our family farm partners, because their success on the farm helps make possible the excellent Pilgrim’s poultry products our customers expect and demand.
Pilgrim’s contracts with approximately over 4,000 family farmers in the U.S. and Mexico to grow our chickens. We provide the birds, feed, and technical and veterinary services, while growers provide the labor, housing, litter, utilities and, most important, the knowledge and expertise that’s essential to maintaining the Pilgrim’s standard of excellence.
Pilgrim’s technicians work with each family farm partner, regularly visiting individual farms and remaining on call 24-hours a day, seven days a week, to provide assistance and ensure adherence to our animal welfare standards. Important to the rural areas in which we operate, poultry production helps maintain the family farm. Our contract growers are committed to being leaders in environmental stewardship, pledged to maintain and improve the quality of life where they live and work.
Processing and Food Production
Pilgrim’s operates various fresh processing plants and prepared foods cook plants in the U.S. Pilgrim’s also operates three fresh processing plants in Mexico and one in Puerto Rico.
Every Pilgrim’s processing facility in the U.S. is regularly inspected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to ensure that our food products meet all federal food safety standards.
All of our plants have been certified by the British Retailers Consortium (BRC), one of four audits recognized by the Global Food Safety Initiative. These audits, which today are required by most of our retail customers, are used to evaluate a plant’s food safety and quality programs. With 326 requirements that must be met before a final certification grade can be given, the audit is among the toughest in the industry. Earning a “clean sweep” of all plants passing this thorough audit for four years in a row is an unprecedented achievement, and we are extremely proud of each of our plants for their dedication and commitment to food safety and quality standards.
Pilgrim’s has adopted the science-based guidelines for animal welfare issued by the National Chicken Council. These guidelines are designed to promote the humane treatment and well-being of poultry throughout the production process.
All of our complexes are audited on a regular basis to ensure full compliance with these humane treatment guidelines. If a deficiency is identified, immediate corrective action is taken and follow-up audits are scheduled until the issue is resolved.
In addition, all Pilgrim’s employees who handle live birds are required to complete animal-welfare training on an annual basis. Our contract growers receive similar training. All are required to sign a training compliance form indicating that they have received this training and understand their responsibilities regarding our animal welfare program.
Employees or growers who violate the Pilgrim’s animal welfare policy and associated procedures will be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment or termination of their grower contract.
Health and Safety
Caring for our flocks also means taking steps to protect them from disease or illness. Pilgrim’s requires its contract growers to follow strict biosecurity measures on their farms to prevent diseases or viruses from being inadvertently passed to flocks. These measures include:
- Routine cleaning and disinfecting of equipment and vehicles
- Providing clean and protective clothing for all personnel
- Permitting only essential personnel and vehicles to enter the farm
- Limiting or avoiding visits to other bird farms
- Sheltering our flocks in contained housing structures to provide maximum protection from inadvertent contact with wild or migratory birds
Pilgrim’s works closely with our grower partners, customers, and other industry stakeholders to humanely raise and process the birds under our care in accordance with our values and consistent with the National Chicken Council’s Animal Welfare Guidelines.