Animal welfare

We care about animal welfare – and have long-sought to support the humane treatment of animals in agriculture.
In this section:

Animal welfare policy

Although General Mills is a plant-forward food company and does not raise or handle livestock, some of our products rely on eggs, dairy or meat ingredients to create affordable, nutritious, and delicious foods that people love to eat. We work to support the humane treatment of animals in agriculture as part of our company ambition to stand for good and to support a resilient supply chain. This work is done in close partnership with suppliers for our food products and other partners.

Our efforts are governed by our Global Impact Governance Committee (GIGC). The GIGC includes our CEO and other company leaders, and oversees company progress towards our ESG goals, including animal welfare. Animal welfare is further staffed by an Initiative Leader to coordinate the execution of goals with our business and Sourcing function.

Advancing Common Principles

To advance toward a more sustainable planet including animal welfare, we apply and work to achieve the “five freedoms” for all animals in our supply chain.

  1. Freedom from hunger, thirst, and malnutrition.
  2. Freedom from discomfort.
  3. Freedom from pain, injury, and disease.
  4. Freedom from fear and distress.
  5. Freedom to engage in normal patterns of animal behavior.

Focused Efforts

Egg production

Eggs are an important ingredient in many of our products, and we strive to ensure that the hens laying these eggs are treated humanely.

We are working toward purchasing only 100 percent cage free- or free-range eggs for our operations globally by 2025.

As we look ahead to meeting our 2025 commitment, we are pleased with our progress to date and our plans going forward. We expect that by the end of 2023, 80-85% of the eggs we purchase for our operations globally will come from cage-free chickens, 85-90% by the end of 2024, and 100% by the end of 2025. We will report annually on our progress in our Global Responsibility Report.

Milk production

General Mills encourages all suppliers in our dairy supply chain to support industry-wide efforts that promote the humane treatment of cattle, including responsible polled breeding practices. Until dehorning is eliminated, General Mills supports the adoption of best management practices, including procedure timing and use of analgesics and/or anesthetics.

All the fluid milk we source in the U.S. for Yoplait comes from co-ops whose member farms participate in the National Milk Producers Federation animal care program (Farmers Assuring Responsible Management). The program comprehensively addresses dairy cow care, including standards for proper pain relief and disbudding, and prohibits the routine use of tail docking. The FARM standards are revised on a three-year cycle starting with a review by a technical committee composed of veterinarians and animal care experts.

Pork production

General Mills supports the development of pregnant sow housing alternatives and has been communicating this support to suppliers over the years.

At the end of calendar year 2023, 100% of the pork cuts we buy in the U.S. came via supply chains in which pregnant sows do not experience prolonged use of gestation crates. We define prolonged use as anything longer than nine days per 16 week pregnancy cycle. 

While we are committed to eliminating all use of gestation crates even beyond prolonged use to eventually reach zero days of gestation crate use per pregnancy cycle, we understand that there may be very limited occasions when keeping a sow isolated from others could be beneficial, such as for short-term medical procedures. In those limited instances, sows should be given enough room to turn around.


General Mills supports progress within the poultry industry toward a higher standard of animal welfare for broiler chickens. By higher standard, we mean birds that are:

  1. Raised with more space (a stocking density of 6 lbs/ft² or less).
  2. Raised with litter, lighting, and enrichment that meets Global Animal Partnership (GAP) standards.
  3. Processed using controlled-atmospheric stunning from breeds accepted by Global Animal Partnership (GAP) or the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

The volume of our broiler chicken purchases represents less than 0.05% of the broiler market. Nevertheless, we have supported industry progress through several steps:

  1. Enacted new governance processes across all our animal welfare commitments (see above).
  2. Engaged current and prospective suppliers to assess their ability to support us in this journey, including site visits to prospective supply locations.
  3. Onboarded alternate suppliers who are further along in adoption of these standards.
  4. Contracted for chicken that meets these standards, working through verification and quality testing.
  5. Explored how our Regenerative Agriculture ambition could help further a paradigm shift in farm animal well-being. For example:
    1. We are continuing to invest in research on the benefits of pastured poultry production by partnering with North Carolina State University to commission a study comparing pastured and conventional poultry production systems. The literature review and study intend to understand outcomes across animal welfare and management, microbiology and food safety, and meat quality.
    2. We have also provided funding to the Regenerative Agricultural Alliance, which seeks to codify the benefits of having chickens acting in their natural roles within ecosystems. Learnings from this work will help inform our approach moving forward.
    3. More information on this can be found in the Animal Welfare section of our Global Responsibility Report.

By the end of calendar year 2024, we are tracking towards 5% of our U.S. broiler chicken meat being contracted for purchase to meet these standards. We continue to monitor the maturity of suppliers regarding these standards and seek additional ways to support the welfare of broiler chickens.


Antibiotics and hormones

General Mills agrees with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that judicious use of medically important antibiotic drugs can help preserve the effectiveness of these drugs as therapies for humans and animals. For that reason, we do not support routine use of antibiotic drugs to promote growth in livestock, and believe such drugs should be used only as necessary and appropriate to maintain the health of animals.

In accordance with US regulations, General Mills does not support the use of hormones in the raising of hogs or poultry.

Animal testing

General Mills does not conduct, support or condone the use of animal testing that is not legally required for food safety or quality. We do not maintain any testing facilities. Where governmental agencies require animal testing to demonstrate safety or quality, studies are completed by accredited third-party facilities that follow proper animal welfare guidelines. We are advocates for replacing animal testing with other validated methods to support the safety and quality of new food ingredients and have financially supported research to develop alternative methods.