For 25 years
The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme has been improving the lives of Australia’s farmed animals.
Established by the RSPCA in 1996, during its time we’ve seen more than 3.7 billion animals benefit from higher welfare farming conditions under the Scheme.
1.6 million layer hens. 1.6 million Layer Hens
1.5 million pigs. 1.5 million Pigs
3.7 billion meat chickens. 3.7 billion Meat Chickens
2.9 million turkeys. 2.9 million Turkeys
18.2 million farmed atlantic salmon. 18.2 million Farmed Atlantic Salmon
2020 Impact Video
Play the 2020 Video
Our Scheme is like no other in Australia.
Our certification process is tough and stringent.
Experienced RSPCA Assessors visit farms 2-4 Times a year
The RSPCA Certification Body review every assessment report from RSPCA Assessors as part of our robust process.
Our Assessors come from farming, veterinary and academic backgrounds and are well versed in understanding animal behaviour.
Our Assessors travel across the country to assess all farms participating in the Scheme. Even the farms in the most remote locations are visited at a minimum twice a year.
Watch the video about John
The RSPCA Standards are solely focused on improving animal welfare, are detailed and informed by evidence.
We’ve released standards for 6 of Australia’s most intensively farmed animals.
Standard for Layer Hens
- Safe and enclosed nests for hens to lay their eggs.
- Perches to help hens feel safe and allow them to rest properly.
- Quality, well managed litter for hens to scratch, peck and dust bathe to clean and maintain their feathers.
- Space to move, stretch and flap their wings so hens can socialise with other hens and build stronger bones and muscles.
- Hens are not kept in cages of any kind.
Standard for Pigs
- Secluded places with quality bedding give sows a comfortable place to rest and build a nest for their young.
- Space to move freely, so sows can forage, socialise, and wallow.
- Sheltered housing with quality bedding gives weaned piglets a dry area to rest, play and maintain a comfortable temperature.
- No painful husbandry procedures, such as teeth clipping, tail docking and surgical castration.
- Pigs are not kept in cages or crates of any kind.
Standard for Meat Chickens
- Good indoor environment (because even free-range chickens spend most of their time indoors).
- Brighter lighting during the day encourages chickens to be active and move about, while periods of complete darkness at night allow them to rest properly.
- Perches and interesting objects to play with and peck at encourages activity and helps chickens build stronger muscles and bones.
- Quality, well managed litter for chickens to scratch, peck and dust bathe and improves their leg and foot health.
Standard for Turkeys
- Brighter lighting during the day encourages turkeys to be active and move about, while period of complete darkness at night allow them to rest properly.
- Perches and interesting objects to play with and peck encourages activity which helps turkeys build stronger muscles and bones.
- Quality, well managed litter for turkeys to scratch, peck and dust bathe and improves their leg and foot health.
- No painful husbandry procedures, such as toe trimming.
Standard for Farmed Atlantic Salmon
- Good management and husbandry help protect salmon from injury and disease.
- Good stockpersonship with a focus on low-stress handling and animal welfare.
- Managing water quality, including appropriate oxygen levels, temperature and stocking densities, so that salmon have an environment in which they can thrive.
- Lower stocking densities means salmon can swim effortlessly and perform natural schooling behaviours.
Standard for Dairy Calves
- A nutritious diet, that includes good quality colostrum, prevents calves having mineral and vitamin deficiencies.
- Feeding is done in a way that encourages suckling and chewing behaviours.
- Space to move freely with other calves, so they can socialise and play.
- Sheltered housing with quality bedding gives calves a dry area to rest, play and maintain a comfortable temperature.
- Access to a paddock.
- Good stockpersonship with a focus on low-stress handling and animal welfare.
We regularly review our Standards so we're continually raising the bar for animal welfare.
Developed and reviewed by RSPCA Australia’s science team, our Standards are informed by animal welfare science, RSPCA policy, leading farming practices in Australia and overseas and take account of the commercial realities associated with farming. They are created with the aim of meeting the needs of animals while also being commercially achievable.
This means we can work with large scale producers and improve the lives of a greater number of animals.
There’s an average of 370 specific requirements under the Standards that need to be met for a product to have RSPCA Approved certification.
- The RSPCA established the RSPCA Accreditation Scheme and released its first animal welfare standard.
- Its focus was to improve the lives of Australia’s egg-laying hens and provide guidance
- and a trustworthy choice to consumers wanting to purchase eggs from cage-free farms with a focus on animal welfare.
- The first egg farm joins the Scheme.
- The RSPCA releases an animal welfare Standard for pigs.
- The first pig farm joins the Scheme.
- Rohde’s Free Range Eggs joins the Scheme
- and is still proudly RSPCA Approved and is the only participating egg farm in South Australia.
- After the Scheme’s first external review, it’s renamed the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme.
- For the first time, a major Australian supermarket sources RSPCA Approved pork for a product line under their own brand.
- To this day, Coles is the only supermarket to offer customers RSPCA Approved pork nation-wide.
- The RSPCA releases animal welfare Standards for meat chickens and turkeys.
- Mt Barker Free Range Chicken is the first chicken brand to join the Scheme, followed closely by Freedom Farms in 2011.
- 95.2 million hens, pigs, meat chickens and turkeys have benefitted from higher welfare farming conditions since the Scheme began.
- In a landmark move forward for farm animal welfare in Australia, Coles became the first supermarket to source RSPCA Approved chicken for all of its own brand of fresh chicken.
- This move was closely followed by Woolworths and launched a transformation within the industry.
- 805 million hens, pigs, meat chickens and turkeys have benefitted from higher welfare farming conditions since the Scheme began.
- The RSPCA releases an animal welfare Standard for farmed Atlantic salmon.
- A second external review is undertaken to better understand how the Scheme can operate to best practice standards.
- After undergoing the RSPCA’s certification process for two years, Huon Aquaculture became the first RSPCA Approved farmed Atlantic salmon producer.
- The RSPCA releases an animal welfare Standard for dairy veal calves (which is now the Standard for dairy calves).
- 2 billion hens, pigs, meat chickens, turkeys and salmon have benefitted from higher welfare farming conditions since the Scheme began.
- After the Scheme’s second external review, the RSPCA Certification Body and a management system is implemented for the Scheme’s meat chicken program.
- In an Australian first, Coles launches RSPCA Approved Slow Hills chicken – the first slow-growing chicken available to the Australian consumer.
- In addition to fresh chicken, Coles and Woolworths source RSPCA Approved for the Australian chicken used as an ingredient in their own brand products.
- Three billion hens, pigs, meat chickens, turkeys and salmon have benefitted from higher welfare farming conditions since the Scheme began.
- We continued to assess farms and abattoirs with a remote model during lock downs.
Free range vs Cage Free Eggs
‘Free range’, ‘barn laid’, ‘cage free’ are all used to describe how farm animals have been housed. Without nationally agreed definitions or standards for product labelling, terms like these can be used without informing customers about the details, for example how much access the hens really have to the outdoors. The only way to really know that a product has come from a farm with a focus on animal welfare is to look for the RSPCA Approved certification, as this means the farm meets our detailed animal welfare Standards and undergoes regular audits to check.
Rohde’s Free Range Eggs
Our mission is to produce tasty and ethically farmed eggs from the happiest chickens. Being an RSPCA Approved farm for over 15 years highlights the importance we place on animal welfare and also ensures our standards are the best in the industry.John and Ange Rohde, Rohde’s Free Range Eggs
Watch Coles Video
Our Freedom Farms’ higher welfare model exclusively uses traditional style barns, filled with natural sunlight. The Approved Farming Scheme and our brand vision are perfectly aligned, hence why we are delighted to have participated in the Scheme for a decade.Jeremy Clegg, COO, The Cordina Group
The significant uptake of the RSPCA Standard by the meat chicken industry is undoubtedly the biggest achievement for animal welfare within the Scheme.
Market share of meat chickens farmed to the RSPCA Standard
In 2020, more than 579 million meat chickens were raised under the Scheme. Today, the Scheme is one of the most successful globally for market uptake.
Improving the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme
Improving how the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme operates is key to its future – the standards we set for participants in the Scheme are high and we know that the standard we set for ourselves is just as important.
The Scheme has undergone two external reviews during its time – the first in 2009 and the second in 2018. Since then, we have been working to implement a number of the recommendations, which will ultimately make it a more robust certification program.
Farmed Atlantic Salmon
Aquaculture (the farming of fish) is recognised as one of the fastest-growing animal protein production sectors in the world. Like other sentient animals, fish can experience pain and suffering. It’s therefore important that where fish are farmed, it is in accordance with higher animal welfare standards.
With the Tasmanian farmed Atlantic salmon industry producing over 12 million fish each year, offering an RSPCA Standard for farmed Atlantic salmon presents a real opportunity to improve the quality of life for millions of fish.
Huon Aquaculture works with the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme because it has an unparalleled focus on fish welfare — just like we do. When purchasing and eating Huon Salmon, people can be assured that fish have been farmed in a way that meets their behavioural and health needs.Frances Bender, Co-Founder, Huon Aquaculture
Australia’s first slow-growing chicken
Slower-growing breeds of meat chickens with improved animal welfare outcomes have been developed and are in use commercially overseas. However, currently the genetics are not easily accessible in Australia. One producer has been able to import genetics into the country, these chickens are farmed for Coles Slow Hills – Australia’s first slow-growing chicken.
In 2021 we certified
92,348 Layer hens
602,239,342 Meat Chickens
6,225,887 Farmed Atlantic salmon
RSPCA Assessors conducted
1,205 Assessments of farms and abattoirs
We are proud of our work
Encouraging food companies and brands to source certified higher welfare, and support a future of better animal welfare for Australia’s farm animals.
Today, we’re working with 38 Forward thinking brands sourcing RSPCA Approved.
More than 1,000 products have the RSPCA Approved certification
They’re available in all three major supermarkets, independent grocers and many well-known restaurant chains, so they’re easy to find.
By choosing RSPCA Approved in the supermarket and when dining out, you are supporting farming that cares about animal welfare and is leading to a future of higher welfare farming in Australia.
Choosing RSPCA Approved improves the lives of farm animals.
- The RSPCA develops animal welfare standards that go beyond legal requirements and are informed by science and evidence.
- Farmers, brands and retailers that want to improve animal welfare on their farms and be recognised for their efforts, apply to join and undergo a rigorous, independent certification process.
- Brands that source from certified farms must be able to trace the ingredient that is RSPCA Approved from point of sale right back to the farm.
- Customers who care about animal welfare choose products with the RSPCA Approved certification.
- Market demand drives more brands to look at gaining RSPCA Approved certification.
- More farms join the Scheme, which means more farm animals have a better quality of life.
A future of higher welfare farming starts today, when you choose RSPCA Approved.
Improving the welfare of Australia’s farm animals is a collaborative effort.
While we’ve certainly come a long way, we have much more work to do.
The success of the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme is only possible because caring consumers are driving demand for ethically produced food, and there’s commitment by dedicated farmers, brand owners and retailers.