Seara has specialist teams to manage this issue working with pork meat and using techniques that are constantly being improved based on the 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.
Seara also has an Animal Welfare Committee, 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 actions 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):
Freedom from fear or stress;
Freedom from hunger, thirst and malnutrition;
Freedom for discomfort;
Freedom from pain, disease or injury;
Freedom to express their normal behaviour.
Best practices in Animal Welfare are closely related to Seara’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.
To ensure that company practices and initiatives are adopted throughout the value chain, the company focuses on three specific phases:
In-house and supplier animal breeding
Pre-slaughter and slaughter
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.
Seara has many 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 nutrition, including corn, soybeans and other grains, does not contain any type of growth hormone.
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 Guidelines (OT´s) that define the criteria producers must adopt. In addition to the OT’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, 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 pork breeding, there are limits on housing density, which means all animals 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.
This is an important phase for animal welfare and is carried out by trained teams using vehicles that have been specially developed to protect animals against injury during transportation and minimize stress during embarkation, transportation and disembarkation. At Seara, pork transportation from farms to meatpacking units complies with the following practices:
• 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 to guarantee appropriate practices are adopted.
• Trained teams are used to load trucks, using techniques that minimize animals stress.
JBS’s guiding principle in this area is humane slaughter, guaranteeing appropriate handling from the time the animal arrives up to the time it is slaughtered, including animal stunning. JBS therefore uses the best equipment available on the global market. At Seara, pigs are kept in temperature controlled waiting bays. All these routines contribute to improve pre-slaughter handling procedures.
Each production unit has at least one responsible per 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.
Seara is 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. Upon adopting this 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.
Seara is committed to reducing the use of medicines in its supply chain. We recognize the importance of antibiotics for humans, animals and the threat from improper use in our supply chains. As a routine, we encourage our farmers to optimize welfare, health, hygiene, husbandry and biosecurity of animals and avoid the need to use antibiotic treatment unless the welfare of an animal is compromised. Also we do not use antibiotics in prophylactic way as a routine or as growth promoters. Where it is necessary to treat an animal, it must be done under veterinary supervision with the vet deciding which type of antibiotic is appropriate. All antibiotic usage is recorded in a veterinary health plan, which must be regularly reviewed by both the vet and farmer. We make sure that Critically Important Antibiotics (CIA’s) for Human Health are only ever used as a last resort when other courses of action haven’t worked.
Use of Antibiotics