Animal Welfare

As a retailer with a wide variety of products, we have a responsibility to ensure high standards of animal welfare in our supply chains. We are committed to following practices that support the welfare of animals sourced for food and non-food products, and these practices are regularly updated to align with industry and government standards and guidelines1.

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Our goal is to ensure that our suppliers adopt and implement high standards of animal welfare across our food and general merchandise supply chains. 

We believe in the Five Freedoms of animal welfare, by which every animal deserves to be:  

  • Free from hunger & thirst. 

  • Free from discomfort. 

  • Free of pain, injury or disease. 

  • Free to express normal behavior. 

  • Free from fear and distress. 

For their entire lifetime, including:  

  • Birth. 

  • Growth/rearing/breeding. 

  • When feeding, watering or sheltering.   

  • Transport. 

  • Slaughter. 

Food Animal Welfare Commitments

These following commitments outline our requirements for suppliers of poultry, eggs, pork, dairy and beef. 


All supplier partners must comply with these standards when producing the following product groups for sale at Target:


  • Meat (beef, pork, lamb) and poultry (chicken, turkey).
  • Shell eggs.
  • Dairy products.
  • Meat, poultry or dairy deli products.

Standards and commitments

We expect our vendor partners producing both owned brand and national brand food and beverage items to meet or exceed the following standards:

  • Poultry: National Chicken Council (NCC) and National Turkey Federation (NTF) guidelines.
  • Eggs: United Egg Producers (UEP) guidelines.
  • Pork: Pork Quality Assurance+ (PQA+) and Transportation Quality Assurance+ (TQA+) and to the North American Meat Institute slaughter guidelines.
  • Dairy: Farmers Assuring Responsible Management (FARM) program.
  • Beef: North American Meat Institute slaughter guidelines. Target supports its beef vendors transitioning to Dr. Temple Grandin’s Responsible Cattle Care Audit program.


Target established a goal in 2016 to transition to a 100% cage-free egg supply chain by 2025 pending available supply.  As a result, the proportion of cage-free eggs purchased by our customers has increased over time.  However, recent extreme volatility in the egg market and the impact of avian influenza on our two largest facilities producing Good & Gather cage-free eggs has impacted our progress. We continue to actively collaborate with our suppliers and prioritize ethical sourcing practices to achieve this goal.


Target established a goal in 2012 to eliminate gestation crates from our pork supply. In 2022, we launched a system to raise all Good & Gather fresh pork, which represents the vast majority of our fresh pork sales, in an open pen environment. We expect all pork suppliers to further reduce, and eventually eliminate, the number of days sows are housed in gestation crates.


Target supports advances in dairy farming practices to include the use of genetic breeding programs to promote polled cattle (naturally hornless) to benefit the welfare of the cows and of the farmers who care for them by eliminating the need for dehorning.

Target supports the National Milk Producers Federation (NMPF) ban on tail docking.

Pain management

We ask all suppliers of meat, deli and dairy products to find and implement alternative solutions to painful procedures (for example, tail docking, de-horning and castration) where possible. We ask that pain management be used during the transition period of eliminating painful procedures.

Stunning requirements

Meat and poultry suppliers must ensure that animals are rendered unconscious and insensible to pain prior to slaughter, except where prohibited by religious constraint. Target supports the Orthodox Union ban on the shackling and hoist method for kosher slaughter and Dr. Temple Grandin’s Upright Restrain Box Method.

Antibiotics and antimicrobial2

We believe sick animals must be treated appropriately to end or reduce suffering. When antibiotics or antimicrobials are administered by a registered veterinarian, using them judiciously for therapeutic purposes, they play a critical role in the overall well-being of an animal.

However, we do not support the use of routine, non-therapeutic antimicrobials to promote growth or prevent disease. We expect our suppliers and the producers they work with to phase out these practices and only use antimicrobials when medically necessary.

There is greater risk to human health when antimicrobial-resistant bacteria develop due to overuse and misuse of certain medically-important antimicrobials. In response to this risk, we ask our suppliers to minimize and remove the use of those deemed critical for human health listed in the “2017 WHO guidelines on use of medically important antimicrobials in food-producing animals” and listed in FDA Guidance #152.

Animal-derived Raw Material Product Standards

These standards outline prohibited animal-derived raw materials in addition to additional requirements for sourcing other materials.

Overall expectations 

  • We only allow for the use of animal-derived raw materials when those animals can be farmed in a way that enables them to have a good quality of life as defined by the Five Freedoms1. 

  • We expect that our suppliers only use skins, down and feathers from animals bred for food and that are a derivative of the food market.  

  • Where available, we expect our suppliers using animal-derived raw materials to use robust traceability and animal welfare assurance schemes.

Owned brand animal-derived raw material product standards

CategoryProhibitedAdditional Requirements, if usedBetter Option


Angora hair 


Alpaca wool 

Whiskers/Hair/Bristles derived from wild animals and/or non-food markets

Wool: When wool is used, it must be non-mulesed 

Whiskers/Hair: When used, it must only be derived from food supply chain  

Wool: Use Responsible Wool Standard (RWS) where possible 

Wool: Recycled wool preferred where possible

SkinsLeather derived from wild animals Leather: For products in which leather is the primary component, all leather must be derived from the food industry. This includes uses of rawhide and hair on hide**Leather: Recycled leather preferred where possible 
FeathersFeathers derived from wild animals and/or non-food markets

Down: All products containing feathers must be certified by the Responsible Down Standard (RDS)

Other feathers: If used, feathers may only be derived from food supply chain

Down: Recycled down preferred where possible
OtherBone/horn derived from wild animals and/or non-food marketsBone/horn: If used, bone/horn may only be derived from food supply chain 

*Fur definition: A thick growth of hair that covers the skin of an animal. 

**Hair on hide definition: Tanned leather skins which have not had follicles of hair removed. 

Compliance and training

All suppliers must comply with these standards. We also expect supplier partners to maintain written policies detailing best practices for each of the areas relevant to their products. Where possible, we perform product testing protocols to verify conformance with our commitments.  

We provide training on animal welfare topics to internal teams responsible for buying or sourcing animal products, and we expect all of our suppliers to provide adequate training to all individuals involved with the direct handling of animals throughout the supply chain.

1 We expect suppliers to adhere to animal-derived raw material product standards in a number of material categories, with the exception of leather, which is our least consumed raw material category within relevant areas of business, and therefore not material. 

2 American Veterinary Medical Association FAQ: Antibiotics are a type of antimicrobial, but not all antimicrobials are antibiotics. The term “antimicrobial” is the proper scientific term, while the word “antibiotic” is generally more widely used, so we use both words in the title and at the beginning of the section, then continue using the proper scientific term, “antimicrobial.”