A Focus On Animal Care
Animal care has always been a top priority and concern for Clemens Food Group and Hatfield. We have an obligation to provide a safe environment for our team members as well as the animals in our care. Providing the best animal care is a continuously improving process based on sound science, veterinary experts and agricultural experience and expertise.
Clemens Food Group continues to adhere to comprehensive industry standards in terms of animal handling procedures recommended specifically to us through the input and guidance of several independent third parties that govern the animals and products that are sold under the Hatfield brand.
Pork Raised With No Added Hormones or Steroids for Growth
On Hatfield products, you will see the claim “Pork raised with no added hormones or steroids for growth.” This means that no added hormones or steroids are administered through feed, water, or by injection, from birth to slaughter, for the purpose of promoting growth. Steroids may be fed or administered for therapeutic uses, but are restricted for only approved applications in individual animals under veterinary regulation.
Standard Operation Procedures are in place at each farm regarding the use of steroids and hormones. Each product has a specific purpose related to treatment of disease or reproductive control. Our animals are raised with no added hormones or steroids to assist in growth.
We maintain strict traceability programs at our farms and production facilities. Records for any treatment animals received are maintained at each farm to ensure any pigs that need to be treated with an antibiotic have met the withdrawal period so the antibiotic is out of the animal’s system prior to processing.
Industry leading commitment to Sow Group Housing practices
Providing the best animal care is a continuously improving process based on sound science, veterinary experts and agriculture experience and expertise. As an industry leader in animal care, Clemens Food Group has been researching gestation and farrowing systems for over a decade, and has studied these systems in the United States, as well as systems currently used in Europe and Canada. As a result, our affiliate, Country View Family Farms is on the leading edge of animal care.
As industry pioneers, Clemens Food Group and Country View Family Farms were able to meet a commitment made in 2010 to transition all company owned and all company contracted hogs to group housing by the end of 2022. By meeting this goal, we now provide approximately 6.3 million hogs annually under our group housed care program. The group housed care program, commonly referred to as “open pen gestation”, is defined by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards, which mandates that after being confirmed pregnant, a sow must be placed in an open pen where she has freedom of movement, social interaction, and access to sufficient feed and water.
Progressive adoption of Gestation Crate Free practices for customer-specific programs
Hatfield offers a variety of pork products across our portfolio of bacon, marinated, and fresh pork items that meet the “Prop 12” and “Question 3” statutory requirements.
Sows are housed in pens that allow them to get up and turn around freely at all times, and have 24+ sq. ft. of usable floor space per sow.
For customers committed to our program, Clemens Food Group will provide, upon request, written guarantees that the products destined for California or Massachusetts will be compliant with Prop 12 and Question 3, respectively.
Veterinary Leadership and Relationship
Utilizing scientific and veterinary experts, along with experts in animal care, and our own Full-time Doctor of Veterinary Medicine and staff, Clemens Food Group continues to evaluate the best animal care practices and adjust our care accordingly to ensure we continue to provide the most proven, innovative and optimum care for our animals.
Adherence to these standards is a non-negotiable requirement for all team members, farmers and transporters who handle animals. Our sincere commitment to these programs, among others, underscores Clemens’ concern and commitment to animal care. Our Veterinarian oversees all of our animal care practices for all of our farm, food production and transport operations. Our Veterinarian consults with the North American Meat Institute (NAMI) animal handling committee with animal welfare leaders like Dr. Temple Grandin to ensure that at Clemens Food Group we are at the forefront of the treatment of animals.
There are also six USDA agents on site at our Hatfield, PA production facilities and five agents at our Coldwater, MI production facility, including one USDA Doctor of Veterinary Medicine
Additionally, all producer partners must provide Clemens Food Group with proof of a Veterinary Client Patient Relationship (VCPR). Under this relationship, a veterinarian makes all medical judgments regarding the health of the pigs and treatments, and the pig caretaker agrees to follow the veterinarian’s instructions. Veterinarians must have firsthand knowledge of the pigs’ health to be able to make medical decisions.
Animal Caretaker and Farm Site Certification
All animal caretakers at every stage of production for pigs sent to Clemens Food Group must be certified under the National Pork Board’s PQA Plus Program. This certification must be documented and provided to Clemens Food Group. PQA Plus is an educational program for pig caretakers representing the industry’s commitment to continuous improvement of production practices. It addresses animal well-being, environmental stewardship, worker safety, food safety, public health and community. In addition to producers being PQA certified, Country View Family Farms requires producers to complete both Animal Welfare and Biosecurity trainings each year to strive towards continuous improvement.
Clemens was one of the first companies in the nation to become fully engaged in this program, mandating that all its team members, farmers and livestock handlers become 100% certified. Through this program, Clemens Food Group team members and family farmers undergo advanced education in animal care and animal handling to gain the skill and understanding of their obligation to provide proper care for the animals they raise.
All team members receiving hogs at Clemens Food Group undergo an extensive training program that includes job shadowing, computer based classroom training, and hands-on training with a supervisor or Professional Animal Auditors Certification Organization (PAACO) certified team member.
Third Party Animal Welfare Audits
At Clemens Food Group we engage annually to conduct independent third-party animal welfare farm and plant audits to ensure compliance and the highest animal care and handling practices. All producers who provide pigs for Clemens Food Group are required to be third party audited every three years. In addition to third party audits, Country View Family Farms completes annual animal care and biosecurity verification assessments on all farms to verify a high level of both animal care and biosecurity are being followed by its producers. The main audits/auditors include:
- Validus and FACTA, both leaders in the animal welfare auditing industry, are approved third party auditing firms for Clemens hog supply. The auditors are independent and not associated with the producer partner’s farm. See the below websites for more information on audit criteria for Validus and FACTA
- Common Swine Industry Audit is the audit criteria coordinated by the National Pork Board. Find more information on what is included in the Common Swine Industry Audit at https://porkcheckoff.org/pork-production-management/farm-business-operations/common-swine-industry-audit/.
- Clemens Food Group requires all producer partners have a third party animal welfare audit every three years. Clemens Food Group reviews and verifies compliance to this program.
- Clemens Food Group maintains a serious commitment to animal care and respect that is inherent in our culture. Please know that this is essential to us upholding our animal welfare practices
Judicious Use of Antibiotics
In the Hatfield program, antibiotics are only used when necessary to care for sick pigs. Antibiotics may only be administered in accordance with the label/prescription under advisement of the pig supplier’s veterinarian. Antibiotics may never be administered as a growth promotant. The pig supplier must provide Clemens Food Group with written documentation of their antibiotic program.
Transport Quality Assurance
All livestock truck drivers delivering pigs to any farm in the supplier’s system or to market must be certified under the National Pork Board’s Transport Quality Assurance (TQA) Program. TQA is a program that helps the pig transporters, producers and handlers understand how to handle, move and transport pigs and the potential impacts of those actions on pig well-being and/or pork quality. TQA certifications are regularly audited by a Clemens Food Group team member.
In the Hatfield program, all pigs are fed a diet of which a majority is comprised of grains including, but not limited to, corn, soybeans, wheat, barley and their associated by-products. Diets are formulated and administered based on consultation with an accredited nutritionist or pig nutrition professional, and must be adjusted throughout the grow-out period to meet the pigs’ changing nutritional needs. Pigs are never fed, implanted or injected with any hormones or steroids. Pigs are never fed Ractopamine, and pig suppliers must have documentation that this restriction is being followed. Clemens Food Group will review the pig supplier’s feed records at defined intervals to determine compliance with these standards.
We are morally committed to being responsible stewards of the animals in our care. Our harvest facilities also have stringent controls in place to ensure animal care and respect are maintained throughout the harvesting process. All team members at the plant undergo extensive training and we routinely receive the highest third party audit scores for our animal care. USDA’s Humane Slaughter Act (9 CFR 913) and the North American Meat Institute Animal Handling Guidelines are the foundation of our animal handling programs, training, policies and guidelines.
Clemens Food Group utilizes a CO2 anesthetizing system that allows pigs to move slowly and more calmly in small groups. This results in less stress for the pig as well as improved quality for our products.
Annual third party audits are conducted at both Hatfield and Coldwater by Food Safety Net Services. They audit with the animal handling tool coordinated by the North American Meat Institute.
Clemens Food Group has been presented with several awards, including the prestigious Knowlton Award, which recognizes, among other things, progressiveness in the area of proper animal care. But we continue to test new technologies and practices with an eye toward further increasing the well being of our hogs without jeopardizing their health or the safety of the food supply.