All of our designated market hogs are housed in a group pen setting from birth. Additionally, our company-owned hog farm has transitioned to group sow housing.
To uphold our animal welfare requirements, the majority of our hogs are purchased through contractual agreements. Per the contract, each hog producer must agree to comply with local, state and federal laws and qualifications detailed in the Hormel Foods quality assurance program, which includes animal welfare requirements. We also require all employees who work with hogs at our company-owned farm to adhere to these requirements.
Our animal welfare quality assurance requirements include:
- All individuals who transport hogs to Hormel Foods must have the National Pork Board’s Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) certification. The training materials for this program cover the responsible way to treat and handle animals during loading, transportation and delivery. Handlers are taught to recognize the amount of space needed around each hog and points of balance to aid in hog movement. Achieving TQA certification requires attendance at an educational and training session, and a score of 90 percent or above on a written exam.
- All sites where a producer raises hogs supplied to Hormel Foods must achieve Site Status as defined by the National Pork Board’s PQA Plus program. This is attained through an on-farm assessment that evaluates welfare and well-being principles.
- All employees at our company-owned hog farm are required to comply with qualifications outlined in our quality management system, which includes standard operating procedures, a personal pledge of proper conduct and certifications in the National Pork Board’s PQA Plus and TQA programs. An employee cannot be promoted until he or she has undergone appropriate training for the new position and his or her manager has approved the employee’s ability to work with animals in this new capacity.
- All producers who supply hogs to Hormel Foods, and the employees of those producers, must be certified in the National Pork Board’s PQA Plus program. To achieve certification, producers must attend an educational and training session taught by a PQA Plus advisor – a veterinarian, extension personnel or an adult agricultural educator. The class content focuses on food safety, animal well-being, herd health and medication decision making, administration and records management.
- All producers who supply hogs to Hormel Foods must also adhere to the Hormel Foods Farm Animal Care and Treatment Specifications (FACTS) program. In addition to documentation and animal/facility observations, key components of the program include third-party audits and corrective actions for noncompliance.
Routine audits are conducted at our facilities and we hire third-party auditors to gather information to continuously improve our animal welfare procedures. Employees have a confidential hotline so they can anonymously report any animal welfare procedure that does not meet our standards. A corporate Animal Welfare Steering Committee as well as an Animal Welfare Committee at each hog harvesting facility is responsible to ensure the accountability of our standards.