Humane Handling | JBS USA | Sustainability Report

Our Commitment

JBS USA is committed to meeting or exceeding government and industry standards for humane animal handling and expects livestock and poultry to be handled in a safe and humane manner throughout our supply chain.

Humane Handling at Our Facilities

Our animal welfare programs include specific requirements and procedures to protect the health and welfare of our livestock and poultry during transportation, unloading, handling and processing, as well as the safety of our team members.

In the U.S., our beef and pork production facilities implement animal welfare programs that align with the NAMI guidelines and are compliant with USDA FSIS Directives 6,100.1, 6,900.2 and 9 CFR Part 313. All of our facilities have voluntarily implemented the USDA’s recommended program for animal handling: A Systematic Approach to Humane Handling and Slaughter. This program has four elements:

  1. Initial assessment of where and under what circumstances livestock may experience excitement, discomfort or accidental injury while being handled in connection with transportation, holding or slaughter
  2. Facility design and implementation of training and practices, addressed through standard operating procedures that will minimize the risk of undue excitement, discomfort or accidental injury
  3. Periodic auditing of facility design and practices used to ensure that livestock are handled humanely
  4. Continuous improvement of our process using internal and third-party audit results, incorporation of regulatory changes, performance trends and improvement opportunities that arise during discussion in our weekly Animal Welfare Team meetings

In Canada, our beef production facility implements animal welfare programs that align with NAMI guidelines and comply with the CFIA Meat Inspection Regulations.

As part of the animal welfare programs in our North American beef and pork production facilities, we also use an internal Animal Welfare Index with key performance indicators based on stunning efficiency, prodding and insensibility. Our Animal Welfare Index Goals are calculated based on a 100-point score. For production facilities that score below their targeted goal, immediate corrective actions are required and implemented.

All of our U.S. pork production facilities use controlled atmospheric stunning technology, and as such, use a modified internal Animal Welfare Index that includes metrics for humanely filling the gondolas, where hogs are gathered for atmospheric stunning, rather than stunning efficiency.

For our U.S. live pork operations, team members and contract partners understand that using low-stress handling techniques is one of the true arts of successful, humane pork production. Specific handling guidelines and standards to improve low-stress handling on our farms are outlined in our producer manuals.

In Australia, our production facilities implement animal welfare programs that comply with the AUSMEAT-audited Industry Animal Welfare Standard – Livestock Processing Establishments and the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock. Compliance with our programs is verified through daily and third-party audits. The industry program sets six standards:

  1. Management procedures and planning
  2. Design and maintenance of facilities and equipment
  3. Staff competency
  4. Management and humane destruction of weak, ill or injured livestock
  5. Management of livestock to minimize stress and injuries
  6. Humane slaughter procedures

For our JBS Australia feedlots, all team members who handle cattle are trained in animal husbandry, proper positioning and flight zone techniques, low-stress handling techniques and proper protocols for when an animal is uncooperative, aggressive or uneasy. In addition to properly training team members, facility design and maintenance are critical to low-stress handling in our feedlots. Facilities are designed to ensure smooth cattle flow, and team members are trained to identify potential problems that may impede the flow of cattle through our facilities. In addition, our animal welfare commitments and program include working animals, such as horses used in our feedlots. All hogs are sourced from Australia Pork Industry Quality Assurance Program (APIQ) accredited farms with industry best-practice animal welfare standards.

For Pilgrim’s, our U.S. animal welfare programs meet or exceed PAACO-certified NCC Guidelines for our breeders, hatcheries, broilers and at slaughter. Our Mexico complexes are compliant with the Federally Inspected Type (FIT), a voluntary food-quality certification of the Mexican government. Our facilities in Europe are compliant with Council Regulation N˚1099/2009 standards on animal welfare. Across all Pilgrim’s facilities, handing of animals for any reason, including vaccinations, treatment and movement to new facilities or processing is done using approved methods to avoid injury. At processing facilities, chickens are handled in a humane manner and lighting is adjusted to keep the chickens calm.

Pilgrim’s UK higher welfare supply chain raises hogs according to the RSPCA higher welfare standards as a minimum and has been awarded the highest ranking, Tier 1, by the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) for its animal welfare performance, through an independently commissioned private review. Pilgrim’s UK approved facilities also process lambs. Handling of hogs and lambs is done using low-stress techniques and facilities are maintained to ensure appropriate animal flow. Controlled atmospheric stunning is utilized for all hogs. Animal welfare practices at production facilities are in compliance with Council Regulation N˚1099/2009 standards which are monitored daily by Food Standards Agency (FSA) inspectors.

Animal Welfare Index

(JBS USA and Canada beef production facilities)

Audit Categories Unacceptable Bottom Performer Goal Top Performer
Performance (%) Points Earned Performance (%) Points Earned Performance (%) Points Earned Performance (%) Points Earned
Stunning Efficiency 97.0% 0.0 98.5% 27.0 99.0% 28.5 100.0% 30.0
Prodding 15.0% 0.0 8.0% 27.0 5.0% 28.5 0.0% 30.0
Insensibility 99.2% 0.0 99.7% 36.0 99.8% 38.0 100.0% 40.0


As a component of the animal welfare programs at each production facility, livestock transporters are audited daily to verify adherence to JBS USA humane handling standards, and depending on the country, the NAMI Transportation Guidelines, CFIA Humane Transport Guidelines, Australian Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock and RSPCA, Red Tractor or QMS.

Our U.S. and Canadian beef and pork production facilities also require all transporters to present documentation that demonstrates their understanding of and adherence to the JBS USA guidelines and certification with Beef Quality Assurance Transportation (BQAT), Canadian Livestock Transportation (CLT), and the National Pork Board’s Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) programs, as applicable. Improper handling of livestock results in immediate corrective actions and can result in the transporter being permanently banned from delivering livestock to JBS USA facilities in the future.

In Europe, our pork and approved lamb production facilities require that livestock are moved in their social groups, and hog trailers are equipped with lifting decks to make loading as stress free as possible. Trailers are bedded with straw and in the summer months extra drinking water is provided. We monitor transport time with an average journey time of four hours, and our position is that no animal should be in transit to a Pilgrim’s UK production facility for longer than eight hours.

Our JBS USA Carriers business is responsible for providing safe transportation to more than 1.5 million cattle each year. Delivering cattle in a manner that promotes humane handling during loading at the feed yard, a safe journey for both drivers and animals, and minimal stress on cattle during unloading at our facilities is our priority. JBS USA Carriers takes pride in the safe and efficient transport of animals to production facilities across the country, and our drivers have a passion for the industry and their important role.

JBS USA Carriers, in conjunction with Five Rivers Cattle Feeding (JBS USA’s largest producer partner) animal welfare teams, provides drivers with animal-handling and safety training. The training materials are based on the BQAT program, which is widely recognized as the industry standard for truck driver training.

When Pilgrim’s chickens are transported during cold weather, we add side and front panels to the transport cages to keep chickens warm. During the summer months, we reduce the number of chickens per cage and keep them cool and minimize heat stress with shade, fans and misters. We work to minimize the amount of time chickens spend in cages, consistent with regionally appropriate animal welfare practices. We also monitor handling and transportation animal welfare metrics of our chickens.

2021 Progress

Humane handling performance is shared weekly with all facilities and senior management to guarantee constant and consistent oversight, and sharing of best management practices and corrective actions.

Humane Handling Performance

U.S. Beef Production Facilities
Indicator Goal Performance
Stunning Efficiency ≥99.0% 99.9%
Prodding ≤ 5.0% 1.4%
Insensibility ≥ 99.8% 100.0%
Animal Welfare Index ≥ 95.0% 99.4%
  • Passed third-party external audits with scores ranging from 97.6% – 100%
  • Passed all third-party transportation audits at 100%
  • All third-party audits passed on the first attempt

JBS Canada
Indicator Goal Performance
Stunning Efficiency ≥ 99.0% 99.7%
Prodding ≤ 5.0% 3.6%
Insensibility ≥ 99.8% 99.99%
Animal Welfare Index ≥ 95.0% 98.4%
  • Passed third-party external audits with scores ranging from 99.1% – 100%
  • Passed third-party transportation audits with scores of 100%
  • All third-party audits passed on the first attempt

JBS USA Pork Production Facilities
Indicator Goal Performance
Animal Welfare Index ≥ 97.0% 99.6%
  • Passed third-party external audits with scores ranging from 98.9% – 100%
  • Passed third-party transportation audits with scores of 100%

JBS Australia
Indicator Goal Performance
Falls/Slipping ≤ 3.0% 0.08%
Stunning Efficiency ≥ 98.3% 99.2%
Prodding ≤ 15.0% 6.6%
Insensibility 100.0% 100.00%
  • Maintained all third-party and regulatory animal welfare audits and accreditations

Pilgrim’s U.S.

  • Passed internal audits with an average of 96.2%
  • Passed external audits with an average score of 99.7% and a range of scores from 96.5% – 100%
  • Passed 100% of external audits

Pilgrim’s Moy Park

  • Passed all internal and external audits

Pilgrim’s Mexico

  • Passed all internal and external audits

Pilgrim’s UK

  • Passed all internal and external audits