Health and Nutrition

Assessing the daily needs and health status of the animals under our care is essential to ensuring their well-being. No matter the production system deployed, we are committed to providing our animals with proper nutrition and full-service veterinary care.

Monitoring Animal Health

Our Regional Approaches:

Veterinary Care

Our licensed veterinarians establish and monitor all health and vaccine protocols and follow government regulations. They perform routine health checks and are available for consultation on any issue.

Each facility has a dynamic written health plan that is developed in consultation with our veterinarians and includes specifications regarding animal management, vaccination schedules, animal-health monitoring and treatment, mortality and morbidity monitoring, and measures taken to prevent disease transmission. They also work to mitigate or eliminate pain for our animals.

Physical Alterations

Our Regional Approaches

Animal Nutrition

Providing the proper nutrition to maintain appropriate body condition and optimize growth is critical to the overall health and welfare of our animals. At our livestock and poultry operations, our team of Ph. D.’s and expert nutritionists formulate diets specific to the animal’s species and life stage and adjusts diets, daily if necessary, to optimize growth and prevent nutritional deficiencies and digestive disorders. We manufacture our own feed in company-owned and contracted feed mills, using a proprietary mixture that includes corn, ground hay (for cattle) and other grains. At our aquaculture operations, we purchase feed from accredited third-party suppliers.


Antibiotic Use

At JBS, the use of antibiotics in animals is subject to local regulations.

Our Regional Approaches:

The farm and ranch partners who supply cattle and hogs guarantee compliance with these requirements by completing an affidavit at the point of sale and are randomly third-party audited. Our process-verified programs (natural, organic, grass-fed, antibiotic free, etc.) may require additional compliance depending upon specific program requirements.

As part of our long-standing commitment to safeguard the welfare of our animals, we do not withhold antibiotic treatment if a licensed veterinarian has determined it is the appropriate course of action. If antibiotic treatment is necessary, the animal is transitioned out of our antibiotic-free/NAE and organic programs and moved into our conventional programs while adhering to all appropriate antibiotic withdrawal times prior to processing. We will never allow a sick animal to suffer.

Alternatives to Antibiotics

We are committed to reducing the use of antibiotics in animal production and have conducted extensive research to optimize animal management to reduce the incidence of disease and identify other products that promote and strengthen animal health and disease prevention.

While we continue to innovate, adopt new products and improve management to reduce the incidence of disease, it is important to remember that we cannot completely replace antibiotics and ionophores for the treatment and prevention of disease. Our veterinary and nutrition teams will continue to work closely with companies that produce these alternative compounds, as well as universities and private researchers to make sure that we are on the leading edge of innovation as we continue to provide our customers with wholesome, healthy and nutritious meat and poultry products.

Cloning and Genetic Engineering

JBS operates under the appropriate guidelines regarding animal genetics. At this time, we do not raise or knowingly source animals that have been cloned or genetically modified, edited, or engineered. To our knowledge, tracking mechanisms for these animals are not currently in place in many of our countries of operation. We are also aware that scientific developments which may benefit the health and well-being of animals are ongoing and we will continue to review and scrutinize this research in partnership with our customers.

Case Studies:

In Brazil, JBS is supporting efforts to reduce hot iron branding in the beef supply chain, a current trend aimed at enhancing animal welfare. Farms are now adopting a range of different technologies to replace hot-iron branding with ear tags, buttons, tattoos, and other innovative solutions.
Hot branding is the oldest method of cattle identification, being used either to display owner identification, individuals’ identification, or herd health control purposes (i.e. as it is required by Brazilian regulation to mark calves that have been vaccinated against brucellosis). However, even when properly applied, hot branding is harsh on animals' skin. Although it only takes 2-3 seconds for the burning metal to come into contact with the animal's skin, this is enough to cause second- or third-degree burns that leave permanent marks on the animals. The pain feeling lasts for several days due to the severe inflammatory process resulting from the burns which may be aggravated when hot brands are not properly performed, resulting in injuries with a high risk of infections and parasite infestation. Moreover, hot branding increases the risk of cowboys' injuries, creating an unhealthy environment at the workplace. To improve animal handling practices related to cattle identification, JBS has engaged in a pilot project with four partner farms since 2021. As a result, 68,450 hot-iron branding procedures were avoided throughout 2022 at our partner farms. The initiative is a collaborative effort between the Ethology and Animal Ecology Studies and Research Group (ETCO) affiliated with São Paulo State University (Unesp), the BE.Animal Consulting Group, and Orvalho das Flores Ranch, and is supported by JBS, MSD Animal Health, and ALLFLEX. Participating farms are supplied with status assessments explaining how individual identification affects farm management; training on and implementation of good identification management practices; and follow-ups on implemented initiatives. JBS also provides cattle producers with a Good Practices Guide, which contains recommendations for the use of other identification methods such as earrings (electronic or not) and tattoos on the animals' ears. These options allow for greater efficiency in the operational management of the farm.
JBS Canada works as a collaborator on the Canadian Integrated Program for Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance (CIPARS), a national integrated surveillance program that collects, analyses, and communicates trends in antimicrobial use and in antimicrobial resistance for select bacteria from humans, animals, and retail meat across Canada. Information from CIPARS supports measures to contain the emergence and spread of resistant bacteria among animals, food, and people, with the aim of prolonging the effectiveness of antimicrobials.
Since the initiation of the program, CIPARS’ goal has been working towards the preservation of effective antimicrobials for humans and animals through monitoring of trends in antimicrobial use (AMU) and antimicrobial resistance (AMR).
In the U.K. and Europe, Pilgrim’s Moy Park has been working with Professor Niamh O’Connell at Queens University Belfast (QUB) to further understand the lived experiences of birds and automate measures of bird behavior. In 2022 the QUB team was awarded $1 million from the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research ‘SMART Broiler’ competition in conjunction with McDonald’s. Moy Park was the industrial partner and supported the project, with the key aim to develop camera-based technology to provide automated behavior and additional management insights - called FlockFocus. The initial outcomes from the project have shown that the birds can be identified and that gait scores and play behavior can be automatically captured within the field of vision of the camera.
One of the biggest challenges in this field of research is to understand the experience of the individual. Over the last 10 years we have been exploring how to track individual birds. In May 2023 in partnership with Moy Park, the first paper of its kind was published entitled ‘large variation in the movement of individual broiler chickens tracked in a commercial house using ultra-wideband backpacks’. This provides fascinating insight on the level of individual variation that exists within flocks and for the first time documents the activity levels up until depletion. The findings open up a plethora of opportunities to better understand how to design environments to enhance bird welfare and performance.
In addition to capturing the positive behaviors that our birds exhibit every day, Pilgrim’s Moy Park continues to try to find new ways to encourage new opportunities for the birds to display natural behaviors – one such behavior is ‘feed running’. Although the name can cause confusion, it is essentially when a birds picks up small novel objects such as chick paper or large pieces of straw, and runs with the object whilst other birds quite often try to ‘steal’ it. The QUB are in process of patenting an enrichment object that will stimulate this behavior, will last for the duration of the crop and will break down in the litter post-depopulation.
Through an industry- funded Ph.D. studentship, Moy Park and QUB partnered to investigated alternative strategies to hatching and managing broiler chicks and the lifetime impact of these practices on chick health, welfare, and performance. With birds reared in the Moy Park Performance House, the study evaluated a range of alternative systems including in-house hatching, several variations of in-hatcher feeding and drinking, and a wet starter feed offering upon placement, all alongside typical commercial practice as a control.
Ultimately, The study found that the alternative systems did not improve bird performance and provided inconsistent and often poorer outcomes compared to commercial practices. However, out of the alternative systems evaluated, in-house hatching was observed to be the most promising.The second trial conducted as part of this thesis investigated if  current industry standards for chicken house lighting during the first 7 days of life provides the optimum environment for chicks. This research question was posed based on the observation that traditionally chicks spend significant amounts of time under the mother hen, shaded from the external light. A large-scale commercial study was undertaken to evaluate three treatments, including a standard lighting program that is typical across the U.K., increased darkness duration in the first 7 days, and treatment that allowed the chicks optional access to shelter/covered area that provided darker areas for the first 7 days. This study ultimately suggested that long day lengths during early life are not essential to maintain production performance in broiler chickens, It also presented a novel approach to environmental enrichment, using dark shelters, which appears to have benefits for bird leg health.
In collaboration with government and industry partners, Huon Aquaculture has helped develop the first pentavalent vaccine for the Tasmanian salmon industry. This vaccine provides protection again five pathogen strains in one injection and has so far provided excellent protection in the field.
Huon’s investment in this project has had a direct and immense benefit to fish welfare by providing protection against disease that would otherwise affect health and performance. In addition, Huon is directly involved in diet trials and an industry-owned selective breeding program, which also significantly improve fish welfare.