Born and raised in Blountsville, Ala., Animal Welfare Specialist Chris Minor has worked at Tyson Foods’ nearby Snead poultry facility since 2004. Of his 16-year tenure with the company, he says, “It kind of got in my blood. Once you’re in Tyson Foods, you want to stay.”

Minor was one of six animal welfare specialists awarded at the 2020 Animal Welfare Summit. 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. Minor won the Specialist’s Choice Award for poultry.

“The specialists are a very talented group of people,” Minor said. “This award is something that I will always be proud of because it was given to me by a group of people that I have so much respect and admiration for.”

Minor’s research project focused on improving the health and welfare of chickens during transport and after they arrive at the facility, especially during warmer months when rising temperatures create stress for the animals. With a focus on improving heat-related conditions at both the farms’ catch/transport sites and the facility’s arrival area, Minor and his team assessed the current system at every step of this process. 

Their analysis revealed that “it was not just one thing, but a lot of little things that add up to an improvement.” For example, at the catch/transport sites, the team made sure fan trailers were always placed on the “sun” side of the transport trucks and were moved throughout the day. Several improvements are currently in progress on the plant side, including shade-cover extensions over the processing bays. 

Minor is confident this project’s adjustments will become standard before next summer and says he looks forward to making further improvements in the future.

“Our management – all the way to the top – backs up this commitment to animal welfare,” Minor said. “If I were a customer, I would want to buy from a company that goes out and does the things we do to protect and enhance the welfare of our animals. It really does make a difference in the end game.” 

Six animal welfare specialists won 2020 CI Project awards: Chris JonesCarina BaltazarAbraham AbateMark HillJohn Crampton, and Chris Minor. 

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. 

Animal welfare is a top priority at Tyson Foods, and this commitment is grounded in continuous improvement, innovation, and education. We provide extensive training to team members interacting with our animals and maintain an Animal Welfare Advisory Panel that provides guidance on current animal welfare topics, research priorities, and emerging issues or technologies.

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