Animal Care

Overview of Hog Operations

Hormel Foods secures hogs from more than 775 independent family farmers across the Midwest and three company-owned operations in Arizona, Colorado and Wyoming.

In 2010, we continued implementing quality management systems (QMS) at all company-owned hog productions sites.

From birth, all designated market hogs are housed in a group pen setting. The breeding sows at our company-owned farms in Arizona will be transitioning to group sow housing by the end of summer 2012. We will also be making the transition at our farms in Colorado before 2018. With nearly 75 percent of our company-owned sows moving to group sow housing at our farms in Arizona and Colorado, for the purposes of consistent animal handling practices, employee training, personnel transfer and reporting processes, we will also begin the transition to group sow housing at our company-owned farms in Wyoming before 2018. By including our Wyoming farms with our operations in Arizona and Colorado, all Hormel Foods-owned farms will be 100 percent group sow housing before 2018.

Pork Procurement and Processing

Each year, three pork processing operations process about 9.4 million hogs to provide the company with raw materials. These locations include Farmer John (Vernon, CA), the Hormel Foods Fremont (NE) Plant and Quality Pork Processors Inc. in Austin, MN, which is a third-party contractor. The raw materials are then distributed to locations across the United States and used to produce meat and food products.

Plants are located across the United States in areas such as Stockton, CA; Atlanta, GA; Algona, Knoxville and Osceola, IA; Aurora and Rochelle, IL; Wichita, KS; Austin, Browerville and Long Prairie, MN; Fremont, NE; and Beloit, WI.

For the Hormel Foods Austin (MN) and Fremont (NE) Plants, we purchase hogs from independent producers from across the Midwest. These hogs are purchased using the lean pork value table, and we pay a premium for properly sorted, consistent, lean hogs that meet the stringent requirements at Hormel Foods. These requirements ensure hogs purchased by Hormel Foods are healthy, top quality animals and, therefore, have been properly managed and treated well.

To ensure the requirements at Hormel Foods for animal care are upheld, the majority of our hogs are purchased via contractual agreements. In the contract, each hog producer agrees to comply with local, state and federal laws and qualifications outlined in the Hormel Foods Quality Assurance Program, which includes an animal care component. In addition to producers who supply hogs to Hormel Foods, we also require all employees who work with hogs at our three company-owned hog operations to follow these guidelines. Our animal care practices include:

  • All producers who supply hogs to Hormel Foods, and the employees of these 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 sites where a producer raises hogs supplied to Hormel Foods must achieve Site Status as defined by the PQA Plus program. This on-farm assessment evaluates care and well-being principles. Once PQA Plus Site Status is achieved, this site becomes eligible for a random third-party audit. This statistically valid sample of audits validates the PQA Plus program.

  • All producers, employees of producers and individuals who transport hogs to the company must have Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) certification. This program was originally developed by Hormel Foods before being adopted as the industry standard. The training materials cover the responsible way to treat and handle animals during loading, transportation and delivery. Handlers are taught to recognize a hog’s flight zones and points of balance to aid in hog movement. Achieving TQA certification requires attending an educational and training session and scoring a 90 percent or better on a written exam.

  • All employees on our company-owned hog operations are required to comply with qualifications outlined in our quality management system, which includes standard operating procedures, signing a Personal Pledge of Proper Conduct and certifications in Pork Quality Assurance Plus and Transport Quality Assurance.

  • Routine audits are conducted at our facilities, and we hire third-party auditors to gather information to continuously improve our animal care procedures.

  • Employees have a confidential hotline to anonymously report any animal care procedure that does not meet our standards.

For hog producers who exemplify the commitment to quality at Hormel Foods, we recognize them through our annual Spirit of Excellence Awards. These awards reward suppliers that consistently meet the company’s stringent requirements. The award was received by nine independent hog producers in fiscal year 2010.