Perdue Farms, Salisbury, Md., followed up its 2018 move to controlled atmosphere stunning (CAS) at its Milford, Del., plant with what is said to be the country's first system to further improve live bird handling, beginning at the farm. The $20 million investment makes Perdue what is dubbed to be the only major poultry company to use CAS with a fully-integrated transportation system of higher-welfare modular containers and specially designed trailers.

The second phase introduces covered trailers that feature a solid roof and breathable side curtains to better control environmental factors like temperature, humidity, oxygen levels and ventilation. The specially designed trailer also carries the higher-welfare transportation containers that provide easier all-around access and increased headroom for chickens during transport. Utilizing these advanced containers also leads to drastically less handling of chickens from the farm to the plant, as they are able to remain in their container as they enter the CAS system.

This move furthers Perdue's commitment to convert 100% of its harvest plants to CAS instead of electrical stunning, which eliminates the process of shackling conscious birds upside down prior to being insensible to pain. 

"When we took phase one of our CAS system live, we wanted to learn as much as we could and improve that process while we planned for this second and final phase. As a result, we've been able to fine-tune this fully-integrated system that greatly reduces the stress on the birds from the farm to the harvest plant," says Bruce Stewart-Brown, senior vice president of food safety, quality and live production. "We're proud to complete this project that raises the bar for the industry and continue on our animal welfare journey."

Other beneficial outcomes are being realized with the second phase of the CAS system. For example, fuel efficiency increased approximately 32% utilizing the new trailers, which ultimately uses less fuel per load. The higher-welfare container system also makes use of an automatic wash machine that strengthens biosecurity by returning the cleanest possible containers back to the farm.