All cattle purchased by Minerva Foods are raised with the freedom of movement, with gregarious behavior being maintained and respected at all stages of the chain, throughout the breeding, rearing, fattening, and pre-slaughter process. In Brazil, in 2019, the cattle acquired by Minerva Foods came from 21.28% of cattle raised only on pasture, 15.72% in semi-confinement, 12.56% in confinement to pasture and 50.44% in confinement. Contrary to what is observed in the United States where animals are confined since weaning, in Brazil confinement is used at finishing, in which the animals stay only 90 to 120 days at an average stocking density of 15.5m/animal, equivalent to only 8% to 10% of their lifetime. Breeding and rearing are steps realized entirely out on pasture.
In semi-confinement and pasture confinement, which are finishing strategies developed in Brazil, the animals are provided with feed via trough (1% to 2% of the live weight) but continue to have access to pasture. Furthermore, in Brazil, semi-confinement or confinement diets are prepared with grains or their derivatives; there is no use of animal by-products, hormones, or their equivalents for fattening. The Company has 115 certified cattle ranchers in Brazil, with more than 69 thousand animals raised for organic production, complying with regulations 834/2007 and 889/2008 of the European Community and the National Organic Program (NOP) of the United States. These animals are guaranteed to be free from antibiotics, growth hormones and animal feed supplemented with animal by-products, as well as meeting the highest standards of animal welfare.
Furthermore, the Company does not encourage prophylactic use of antibiotics in the breeding of animals, in line with global trends of awareness on the matter. Nor does it encourage the practice of genetic engineering, cloning, or the use of growth hormones in its production. All lots of incoming cattle are accompanied by a Declaration from the Producer that no hormones, anabolic agents, antibiotics, and/or antimicrobial substances have been administered as growth promoters, such as doxycycline and ractopamine, among others. To receive the animals, the Company requires a Letter of Guarantee, signed by the owner of the cattle, with the description of all medications applied and if the grace period has been observed in this group of animals.
In respect to the practices of mutilations, the Company does not require the castration of animals, even for its Premium lines. All of the protocols that have been elaborated allow for the inclusion of whole animals of appropriate age, controlled by dentition of milk teeth. This is evident in the fact that in 2019, 97.3% of the animals slaughtered at Minerva Foods’ facilities in Brazil were not castrated.
Other invasive surgical procedures, when appropriate, such as castration, dehorning, birthing and cesarean sections, should always be performed by a competent professional and preoperative and postoperative care should strictly observe all instructions regarding pain mitigation.
The Company avoids transporting cattle for longer than eight hours to slaughter. It only recommends transporting castrated males and females within a radius of 400 kilometers and bases its purchase portfolio on farms located within an average radius of 228 kilometers from the slaughter units (on average four hours). All trucks have a predetermined route and transport density recommendation, and truck drivers are trained in specific animal welfare and defensive driving topics every semester.
The commitment to carry out humane slaughter includes the stunning of 100% of the animals, with the exception of those destined for specific markets under religious requirements. Kosher slaughter accounted for 3.5% of all slaughter in 2019.