Animal welfare should be a top concern for those in the food and ag spaces. Tyson Foods is proving its commitment to the cause, announcing that it will evolve its approach by integrating a new welfare framework across its global operations, which will be called the Five Domains.
“Incorporating the Five Domains into our daily conversations and actions is essential for Tyson Foods to drive continuous improvement in our welfare program and culture throughout our global operations”, said Dr. Ken Opengart, Vice President of Global Animal Welfare, Tyson Foods.
Tyson’s Office of Animal Welfare plays an important role in pursuing the company’s vision of animal welfare through compassionate care based in sound science. The Five Domains, as devised by Professor David Mellor and colleagues, provides a comprehensive platform that incorporates functional and behavioral components, which provide an assessment of an animal’s overall mental state, also known as the welfare of the animal, a press release stated.
While Tyson Foods acknowledges the importance of the Five Freedoms welfare framework (freedom from hunger and thirst; freedom from discomfort; freedom from pain injury or disease; freedom to express normal behavior; and freedom from fear and distress), the company made the strategic decision to transition from the Five Freedoms to the Five Domains last year.
“For decades, the Five Freedoms have provided an essential foundation for conceptualizing animals’ welfare needs. As animal welfare science has advanced, however, the importance of promoting positive (physical, behavioral, and mental) states of welfare in addition to minimizing negative states is increasingly recognized," said Dr. Candace Croney, Professor of Animal Behavior and Well-Being and Director of The Center for Animal Welfare Science, Purdue University. “Incorporation of the Five Domains reflects the leadership mindset needed to facilitate thought processes, actions, and outcome measurements aligned with achieving these goals.”
Tyson is now moving ahead with widescale integration of the Five Domains across its enterprise. By adopting this framework, the company’s welfare practices are evolving and allowing the company to identify opportunities for enhancement and examine positive outcomes and behaviors of each animal, providing a greater understanding of animal needs and ultimately better welfare outcomes.
The Five Domains provides a platform that allows for a more comprehensive assessment of welfare outcomes as a result of a range of influences, known as a more progressive conceptual animal welfare framework that includes the promotion of positive mental states through four domains: nutrition, physical environment, health, behavioral opportunities, and the mental state of the animal.
“The Five Domains model represents the forefront of current efforts to conceptualize and assess animal welfare,” said Dr. Dorothy McKeegan, Senior Lecturer in animal welfare and ethics at the University of Glasgow. “Tyson’s adoption of the Five Domains represents an admirable commitment to embrace animal welfare improvements in a scientifically sound, evidence-based way.”
Tyson Foods collaborates with many internal and external subject matter experts to utilize ongoing research findings, innovation, and engagement to continuously improve the welfare of its animals. Tyson has an external Animal Welfare Advisory Panel made up of 13 external subject matter experts, an internal Global Animal Welfare Council and 54 specially trained animal welfare specialists embedded within the business.
Stay tuned for more updates to the operations of legacy brands like Tyson Foods.