Tyson Foods is operating under heightened biosecurity measures to offset the risk of avian influenza (AI), including limiting the number of people and trips between farms and facilities, Tyson President and CEO Donnie King said in a post-earnings conference call.
Tyson has for years tested all of its flocks and broilers for AI before they go to processing plants. “Any bird losses related to disease impacts our growers and impacts our plants, but has been relatively minimal to our business to date,” King said. The hardest hit in the current outbreaks have been egg-laying hens, turkeys and then broilers. Tyson was able to keep the virus from spreading at a 12-house farm, for instance, containing the outbreak to one house, the CEO said. Since September, Tyson has seen improvement in its hatch rate, which now exceeds the industry average, according to King. Tyson more than a year ago brought in a male chicken that has performed successfully for the company in the past, said King, who declined to identify the specific breed of the bird. Staffing is no longer the issue it was for Tyson’s poultry business, the CEO and other executives said. The company’s efforts to attract and retain employees has it offering childcare, transportation and healthcare in rural areas when needed, helping differentiate Tyson from other employers, King added, citing improved absenteeism and turnover rates. “It’s not my objective to fix the labor problem of the United States. It’s my objective to fix the labor problem at Tyson Foods,” King told analysts.
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