This past fall, Tyson Foods held its fourth annual Animal Welfare Summit, bringing dedicated specialists, animal welfare experts, and executive leaders from across the country together virtually to share research projects and best practices and discuss the future of animal welfare as our company continues to grow. During the summit, 44 Continuous Improvement (CI) presentations were shared – projects developed by specialists focusing on animal welfare advancement – and a Judge’s Choice Award and Specialist’s Choice Award were presented to specialists in beef, pork and poultry.

Six animal welfare specialists won 2020 CI Project awards: Chris Jones, Carina Baltazar, Abraham Abate, Mark Hill, John Crampton, and Chris Minor. We’ll be showcasing each winner and their project on The Feed blog over the next several weeks.

Chris Jones – Dakota City Cooling Mister System

Chris Jones, the animal welfare specialist at our Dakota City, Neb., beef plant, won the Judge’s Choice award for the beef category.

Knowing that “calm and comfortable cattle” not only provides better-quality beef but also leads to a safer working environment, Chris’ research project centered on the use of water misters to keep cattle cool during the summer months. The resulting high-pressure, cold-water misting system works more effectively and cost-efficiently compared to traditional sprinklers. The system has proven to be preferred by the cattle who approach the mister to breathe in the cool vapor and has helped the plant meet its reduced water-usage goals. 

“When it comes to animal welfare, the most important thing to me is that you have the management’s commitment, and at Tyson Foods, that comes all the way from the top,” Chris said. “We couldn’t do the things we do if I didn’t have their support.” 

Chris said he will continue to test the system when it gets warmer and plans to expand it.

Chris found his passion for animals through his very first job: working at an exotic pet store. In 2009, thanks to his sister who was working in Tyson Foods’ cattle procurement division, Chris started as an hourly worker handling live cattle at our Lexington, Neb., beef plant. He admits thinking it would be a short-term job at first – but he ended up loving the work. After his recruitment to our Dakota City plant, Chris became one of our first Animal Welfare Specialists in January 2017, which he calls his “dream job.” 

“My goal is to make each day the cattle’s best day they’ve ever had,” Chris said.

At Tyson Foods, sustainability and animal welfare are of utmost importance, and we aim to be the world leader in animal welfare through compassionate care based on sound science. We have dedicated animal welfare specialists at each of our facilities who focus on partnering with operations to ensure we are delivering on our mission to continuously improve the welfare of the animals entrusted to our care. The specialists spend time researching innovations and ways to continue to bring the best care for our animals at each of our facilities. 

The Judge’s Choice category is evaluated by animal welfare professionals outside of Tyson Foods, and they consider each presentation based on innovation, potential for high impact on animal welfare, impact for other Tyson Foods business units, project design and execution, collaboration, and the presentation itself. The Specialist’s Choice category is scored by fellow peers in the same category.

Find more information on our commitment to sustainability through animal welfare here