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Raising animals humanely is core to our mission: Changing The Meat We Eat®

A large group of cows grazing in a green grass field.

We believe that animals raised for food deserve to be handled with care and respect, from breeding to their final moments. We call our system: Applegate Humanely Raised.

Its tenets are based on the Five Freedoms of Animal Welfare, which were first outlined in 1965, and are widely considered the foundation of humane treatment. They include:

  • Freedom from Hunger and Thirst: Ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigor.
  • Freedom from Discomfort: Providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  • Freedom from Pain, Injury or Disease: Prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  • Freedom to Express Normal Behavior: Providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal's own kind.
  • Freedom from Fear and Distress: Ensuring conditions and treatment, which avoid mental suffering.

What does this look like in practice?

Applegate works with third-party certifiers including Global Animal Partnership® and Certified Humane® to ensure animals are raised and handled in ways that truly honor the Five Freedoms. Applegate requires that all the farms we source from meet third-party certified animal welfare standards. In addition, we have a team of in-house animal-science experts that regularly visits and inspects farms for compliance.

Here's how applegate humanely raised stacks up:

Applegate Humanely Raised versus Typical Industry Practices
Practices Applegate Typical Industry*
No antibiotics ever Check  
No growth hormones or beta agonists** Check  
100% vegetarian diet, no animal by-products Check  
More space to engage in natural behaviors and promote natural growth Check  
Environmental enrichments (poultry and pigs) Check  

*Comparison based on practices outlined by industry groups including: National Chicken Council, National Turkey Federation, National Pork Board, and National Cattlemen's Beef Association.

**Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in poultry. Federal regulations also prohibit the use of beta agonists for poultry.

  • No Antibiotics

    In the U.S. about 70 percent of antibiotics go to animals, not people. And many of the ones used are designated “medically important.” This means they are critical to maintaining human health, and therefore it is essential not to overuse them.

    We believe the overuse of antibiotics isn't just bad for the animals, but for humans. Studies show, it contributes to the increase of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, or 'superbugs.' That's why we don't use them. If our animals become ill, they are treated with antibiotics as prescribed by a veterinarian and transferred outside of Applegate. But animal husbandry practices such as clean barns, fresh air, and more space help to keep animals from getting sick in the first place.

  • No Growth Hormones Or Beta Agonists

    Applegate does not allow any kind of drug or medication to either speed up an animal's growth or increase lean muscle mass. We don't believe it's natural, and some of the drugs have been shown to put animals under stress.

  • 100 Percent Vegetarian Feed Or 100 Percent Grass-Fed

    We prohibit animal by-products in animal feed. The vegetarian diets are specially designed to promote natural growth. Our cattle raised for beef live their entire lives on pasture and are not fed any supplemental grain or sileage.

  • More Space

    All animals raised for us get more room than animals in other systems. They're freer to engage in natural behaviors and roam.

  • Environmental Enrichments

    We require environmental enrichments for all of housed poultry and pigs. Living conditions have an atmosphere that allow for normal, natural behaviors, which promote wellbeing.

Want To Know More About Our Animal Raising Practices?

Animal Raising Practices For Pork
Practices Applegate Typical Industry*
No crates ever Check  
No Ractopamine (banned in 160 countries, used to promote lean muscle growth) Check  
No tail docking or teeth clipping Check  
More solid flooring (reduces injury and stress) Check  
More time with Mom (longer weaning period) Check  

*Comparison based on practices outlined by National Pork Board.

100 percent of our pork is third-party certified by Global Animal Partnership® (Step 1 or higher) or Certified Humane®.

  • No crates. Ever. Applegate farmers use an open-pen system that allows for free movement. On conventional hog farms, sows (mother hogs) are kept in gestation crates that don't allow them to turn around, and then the sows are confined in farrowing crates to nurse piglets. Applegate standards require 29 square feet of space or more for pregnant sows compared to 14 square feet in other systems. That's more than twice as much space. Organically raised pigs have outdoor access.
  • No tail docking or teeth clipping. In many systems, piglets have their tails cut and teeth trimmed because overcrowded conditions lead to pigs gnawing on each others' tails. We make sure pigs have enough space and the proper environment so that this practice is not necessary.
  • On solid ground. Flooring in barns has limited slatted floors and bedding such as hay or straw. Why? Fully slatted floors, which are the norm, can lead to discomfort and injury for the pigs. The straw satisfies their natural urge to seek and root.
  • More time with mom. We insist piglets nurse with their mothers longer than in other systems. This extra time helps further growth and development, including immune systems, and eases the transition to the nursery and a new diet.

Prop 12, or Proposition 12, establishes new minimum standards for the confinement of laying hens, breeding pigs and calves raised for veal and bans the sale of non-compliant products in the state of California. What does this mean for Applegate? Applegate Humanely Raised standards exceed Prop 12 requirements for pigs, allowing us to continue to serve you crave-able pork items, such as bacon. For more details, check out this article.

Watch how Applegate Humanely Raised works at one of our hog suppliers: