Our Commitment

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

Our Approach

During transport and handling, we require that livestock and poultry be treated humanely. We have SOPs for animal handling and delivery that include both daily operations and emergency situations. We use mandatory reporting and regular auditing to make sure that our procedures are being followed. JBS USA does not tolerate abuse of our animals under any circumstances. Any abuse of livestock or poultry during transportation and handling that could cause harm to the animal is a major nonconformance. All nonconformances are recorded, and corrective action plans are made immediately. Team members who work with live animals are carefully trained on proper animal handling and delivery techniques.

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. Compliance with our programs is verified through daily and third-party audits. 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 SOPs 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. Compliance with our programs is verified through daily and third-party audits.

In Australia, our production facilities implement animal welfare programs that comply with the AMIC Industry Animal Welfare Standard – Livestock Processing Establishments and The Australian Standard for Hygienic Production and Transportation of Meat and Meat Products for Human Consumption AS4696. 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

At JBS USA, we take animal handling efforts seriously and have SOPs and team member training for each step in our process when livestock and poultry are handled in our facilities. Quality assurance personnel at each JBS USA production facility conduct daily audits to verify adherence to industry standards and all government regulations. Animal welfare performance is shared weekly with all facilities and senior management to guarantee constant and consistent oversight, sharing of best management practices and corrective actions, if necessary.

The humane stunning of our livestock and poultry is the most critical aspect of our animal welfare efforts. The daily audits conducted at our facilities, which verify adherence to industry and regulatory animal welfare standards, include audit metrics that assess our performance related to stunning. At our North American beef and pork production facilities, we utilize the JBS USA Animal Welfare Index to measure this performance.

Successful implementation of our JBS USA Animal Welfare Index is critical to our animal welfare program and is based on the three most critical metrics related to stunning: stunning efficiency, prodding and insensibility. We use data from our internal audits and third-party video audits to calculate the index. Our Animal Welfare Index Goals are calculated based on a possible 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.

JBS USA Animal Welfare Index

(U.S. 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


“The well-being of the hogs that arrive at our facilities begins at the farm and continues through transport and handling. We are proud to participate in the Common Swine Industry Audit, which assures our customers that good husbandry practices are maintained throughout the animal’s life and that animal welfare is a priority for JBS USA and our hog farmer partners.”

Lyndsey Jones
Corporate Humane Handling, JBS USA Pork

In our beef production facilities, the proper placement of stunning equipment is critical to humane stunning. To validate performance, internal audits are conducted three times a day to assess the placement of the stunning equipment on the animal’s skull. Assessing stun placement ensures that stunning equipment is properly placed based on the animal’s biological anatomy, which can vary based on breed, age and sex. Accurate placement of stunning equipment is critical to humanely rendering the animal insensible.

When chickens arrive at our production facilities, they are most often staged under cover in the winter and under cover with misters and fans in the summer until they are processed. On our pre-harvest line, chickens are picked up by their legs and placed into shackles by trained team members. They are then stunned so that they are insensible to pain when processed. In two poultry production facilities in the U.S. and all production facilities in Europe, controlled atmospheric stunning methods are used, and the chickens are not handled before being stunned. During each shift, managers walk through plants to monitor animal handling compliance and perform quality assessment checks regularly at each station. In the U.S., USDA FSIS personnel are present at plants at all times during processing. The USDA, in cooperation with Pilgrim’s Quality Assurance Supervisors, assures full compliance with all applicable USDA chicken processing regulations. Our Mexico complexes are compliant with the Federally Inspected Type (TIF), 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.

For our JBS Australia feedlots, all team members are responsible for proper animal handling. 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. Making sure that our team members are properly trained is important not only for animal welfare, but also for their safety. 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. These may include:

  • Sparkling reflections from water puddles
  • Chains that jiggle
  • High-pitched noises
  • Clothing hung on a fence
  • Seeing people moving ahead
  • Changes in flooring and texture
  • Drain grates on the floor
  • Too dark of an entrance
  • Bright lights
  • Noises in animal-handling facilities
  • Slippery surfaces

In addition, our animal welfare commitments and program include working animals, such as horses used in our feedlots.

For our JBS USA 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. Ensuring that our handlers employ proper techniques maximizes performance and reduces stress for both people and hogs. Specific handling SOPs are outlined in our producer manuals. The manuals include guidelines and outline basic hog behaviors to improve low-stress handling on our farms. Some standards in our manuals include:

  • Use proper handling equipment that is in good repair
  • Never use electric prods as the primary handling tool and only use sparingly
  • Never use electric prods in pens or on weaned hogs or bred sows
  • Use a no-touch handling option to move weaned hogs
  • Understand that hogs balk at shadows, sounds, standing water, changes in flooring, corners or obstructions in their line of sight that may slow down or stop herd flow
  • Move hogs with at least two people to reduce risk of injury
  • Move hogs in small enough group sizes so that the handler can maintain control of the lead hog


As a component of the animal welfare programs at each JBS USA 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 and Australian Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Land Transport of Livestock. In addition, our U.S. beef production facilities require all transporters to present documentation that demonstrates their understanding of and adherence to the JBS USA guidelines and in the U.S. certification with BQAT. 

Improper handling of livestock will result in immediate corrective actions and can result in the transporter being permanently banned from delivering livestock to JBS USA facilities in the future. Expectations of cattle and small stock transporters include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Animal abuse is strictly prohibited and will not be tolerated
  • Cattle transported over the course of more than 28 hours must be off-loaded and provided water, feed and rest
  • All animals must be fit for transport at the time of loading
  • Transporters must maintain equipment to provide a safe environment for the animals
  • Transporters must follow plant postings regarding bedding and side slats/plugs during winter months
  • Transport of cattle in Australia during summer months is carefully managed using objective measures (Heat Load Index) to ensure that heat load does not affect animal welfare
  • Trailers must be cleaned regularly, with manure levels not exceeding hoof level
  • All traps must be closed and in proper working condition
  • In the U.S., trailers must be loaded at the proper density following NAMI Guidelines, which are based on average live weights (Horned – 1,000 lb.: 12.8 ft2, 1,200 lb.: 15.3 ft2, 1,400 lb.: 19.0 ft2; Hornless – 1,000 lb.: 12.0 ft2, 1,200 lb.: 14.5 ft2, 1,400 lb.: 18.0 ft2)
  • The use of electric prods, bull whips and sharp handling tools by transporters is unacceptable during the unloading of trailers (rattle paddles or sticks with a flag on the end are suggested)
  • Prod use in Australia is not recommended and should be used only as a last resort under controlled conditions
  • Handling tools must never be used on sensitive areas of the animal
  • Plant personnel must be notified immediately when a downed animal is on the truck
  • Noise must be reduced to minimize animal stress
  • Trailers must be squarely aligned with the unloading dock, avoiding gaps that may cause injury or escape
  • Plant personnel must be notified of any nonambulatory or aggressive animals
  • All dock gates must be closed before and after unloading
  • Livestock must be delivered during scheduled times to avoid excessive wait time at the plant

At all of our U.S. pork production facilities, the quality assurance teams verify transporter compliance with the National Pork Board’s TQA program. In addition, we have rigorous standards to which livestock haulers must commit to deliver livestock to a JBS USA facility and make sure that animals are handled in a respectful, ethical and humane manner. Improper handling of livestock will result in immediate corrective actions and can result in the transporter being permanently banned from delivering livestock to JBS USA facilities in the future. Expectations of pork transporters include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Transporters must have a current TQA certificate
  • Trailers must be paneled and bedded as described in the TQA standards, as seasonally required
  • Livestock must be unloaded quietly in small groups
  • Sort boards, rattle paddles, flags, etc., may be used to facilitate unloading
  • Electrical prods are restricted for unloading by the transporter and may be used only with permission and supervision from a member of JBS USA management
  • Minimal contact with driving tools must be maintained
  • Unloading must stop immediately, and a JBS USA team member must be notified if a hog becomes fatigued or nonambulatory on the trailer or off the trailer in the unloading area

In cases where livestock arrive at our production facilities under unacceptable welfare conditions in violation of JBS USA policy, we notify the producer. If repeated violations occur, livestock are no longer procured from that source.

During transport, we work to protect our chickens from temperature extremes and provide them with adequate ventilation. 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, keep them shaded and provide fans and misters to keep them cool and minimize heat stress. We strive to minimize the amount of time chickens spend in cages, consistent with regionally appropriate animal welfare practices. We also monitor handling and transport animal welfare metrics of our chickens.

“We constantly look for ways to improve animal welfare in our beef plants, from researching improved handling techniques and exploring trailer options that provide animals with more height clearance to increasing team member training.”

Ryan Algino
Animal Welfare Manager, Corporate Technical Services, JBS USA Beef

JBS USA Carriers 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 feedyard, 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 bring a passion for the industry to work with them every day.

JBS USA Carriers, in conjunction with Five Rivers Cattle Feeding (JBS USA’s largest producer partner) and both of their 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.

For JBS Australia feedlots, all animals that leave the premises are destined for JBS USA production facilities. All cattle must be clear of withdrawals before leaving the feedlot. Each feedlot is required to develop a specific SOP for shipping that is to be followed by all shipping team members. Individual feedlot SOPs require approval by the General Manager or Assistant General Manager and the Head of Operations and must include the following:

  • The required number of team members to load cattle
  • Proper entry and exit of pens
  • Leading and sorting of cattle out of the pen and on the way to the scales
  • Required procedures/considerations for PPE and shipping in the dark
  • Proper handling of unruly cattle

Through all phases of production, JBS USA Live Pork supports the implementation of industry best practices as outlined in PQA+, TQA and the CSIA. All animals must be clear of antibiotic withdrawals before leaving the facility. Specific SOPs related to feeder and market hog transportation are outlined in the JBS USA Live Pork grow finish manual, and contract partners are expected to adhere to these SOPs. Training on proper animal care and handling is available to contract family farm partners to ensure that caretakers uphold JBS USA standards and the “We Care” ethical principles outlined by the National Pork Board.

2018 Progress

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 97.1%-100%
  • Passed third-party transportation audits with scores ranging from 98.6%-100%

JBS Food Canada
Indicator Goal Performance
Stunning Efficiency ≥ 99.0% 99.1%
Prodding ≤ 5.0% 3.9%
Insensibility ≥ 99.8% 100.0%
Animal Welfare Index ≥ 95.0% 97.5%
  • Passed third-party external audits with scores of 100%
  • Passed third-party transportation audits with scores of 100%

U.S. Pork Production Facilities
Indicator Goal Performance
Animal Welfare Index ≥ 97.0% 99.1%
Mortality ≤ 0.22% 0.30%
  • Passed third-party audits with scores ranging from 95.5%-100%
  • Passed third-party transportation audits with scores of 100%

JBS Australia
Indicator Goal Performance
Falls/Slipping ≤ 3.0% 0.0%
Stunning Efficiency ≥ 95.0% 99.0%
Prodding ≤ 25.0% 5.0%
Insensibility 100.0% 100.0%
  • Maintained all third-party and regulatory animal welfare audits and accreditations

Pilgrim’s U.S.

  • Passed internal audits with an average score of 96.7%
  • Passed external audits with an average score of 99.3% and scores ranging from 97.1%-100.0%

Pilgrim’s Moy Park

  • Passed all internal and external audits

Pilgrim’s Mexico

  • Passed all internal and external audits

JBS USA Live Pork

  • Passed external third-party audits with scores ranging from 98.3%-100.0%