Animal Care

Overview of Turkey Operations

We establish clear, simple guidelines and closely monitor adherence to those guidelines to ensure standards are being upheld every step of the way when raising, transporting and processing turkeys at Jennie-O Turkey Store.

Jennie-O Turkey Store, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hormel Foods, is one of the world’s leading processors and marketers of turkey products. This vertically integrated enterprise consists of 11 breeder farms, three hatcheries, more than 100 commercial growing farms, eight feed mills and seven processing plants across Minnesota and Wisconsin.

To feed 34 million turkeys, last year our feed mills purchased more than 30 million bushels of corn from local growers and more than 251,000 tons of soybean meal from local processors to make more than 1.55 million tons of feed. We know that our presence has a significant impact on the local agricultural economy and are honored to support these local communities.

Topics in this section include:

Turkey Handling

Jennie-O Turkey Store has established clear, simple handling guidelines and closely monitors adherence to those guidelines to ensure our high standards are being upheld every step of the way. Our animal handling practices are consistent with policies set forth by the National Turkey Federation and the American Veterinary Medical Association. These documents include information about proper loading, unloading and processing techniques.

As industry leaders, our adherence to these guidelines ensures we raise, transport and process our animals in a humane manner with minimal stress. We are proud of our history of establishing handling procedures that have been adopted by national trade organizations and for being pioneers in using anesthetizing techniques for turkeys prior to processing.

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Turkey Training and Audits

Before working with turkeys at our farm locations and processing facilities, new employees undergo a thorough training program to emphasize different techniques related to their respective jobs. Our training for all employees is ongoing and includes monthly, quarterly and annual audits to evaluate best practice guidelines executed by employees. These audits gauge employee compliance with handling procedures and also ensure care guidelines are being followed for factors, such as air and water quality and access to food.

The results from internal and third-party audits conducted at our hatcheries, grower farms and processing plants consistently score in the highest category. We use the results from these audits to continuously improve our processes. In fiscal year 2010, 242 internal audits were conducted in the Jennie-O Turkey Store live production area.

To actively engage each employee and maintain the highest animal care practices, we conduct daily audits to ensure compliance with all animal care practices. In fiscal year 2010, four external audits were performed by outside auditors in our processing facilities. Internally, we participated in eight formal audits and 122 audits, conducted by company management, at our processing facilities on an unannounced, random basis.

We require a two-step process to certify all independent and contract suppliers of turkeys to Jennie-O Turkey Store in the area of animal care. “Conditional certification” is obtained after the independent/contract producer completes company-provided training in animal handling. “Final certification” is obtained after personnel in the turkey procurement area complete an on-site inspection and audit of the independent/contract producer’s operation. Recertification is required every three years.

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Harvesting of Turkeys

The humane harvesting of animals is an ongoing topic of discussion within the meat industry. At Jennie-O Turkey Store, we use Controlled Atmosphere Stunning and electrical stunning methods, which scientific research continues to show are both accepted methods of humanely anesthetizing turkeys prior to processing. Our focus is to ensure our processing methods remain best-in-class. At this time, scientific data has not showed a significant difference between the methods previously mentioned, but we are committed to best practices for our animals based on scientific findings.

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