8 higher-welfare products and where to find them this holiday season

If you’re currently planning what you’ll bring to your family event or catch up with friends this holiday season, and would like to make sure your ingredients have come from farms with higher animal welfare, you are definitely not alone. We know many Australians care about farm animal welfare but navigating the information on packaging can seem overwhelming. However, if you are looking to buy ham, turkey, salmon or chicken, we can’t stress enough the importance of looking for the RSPCA Approved certification.  

The publicly available RSPCA Standards are focused on animal welfare and our rigorous certification program means farms go through regular and thorough assessments to make sure they consistently meet those Standards.  

To help make shopping for higher welfare a little easier this year, here are the brands sourcing from farms that meet our higher-welfare standards, and where to find their products … 

Free range RSPCA Approved ham
On arms with RSPCA Approved certification in WA, life on the range for these pigs means room to roam, forage and explore. There are mud wallows for sows (mother pigs) to roll and lie around in; as well as access to secluded huts with quality bedding so pigs have a comfortable place to rest and build a warm nest for their piglets. Once piglets are weaned, they’re housed in large straw-filled shelters with other pigs of the same age, and with access to the outdoors. Pigs are never kept in cages or crates of any kind. 

Where to find: Coles
Brands to look for: Coles Finest Free Range 

Barn raised RSPCA Approved turkey
These turkeys are raised by dedicated farmers with a focus on animal welfare. They live in an enriched indoor environment where birds are encouraged to be active. Stocking density is lower and there are perches throughout, to help build leg strength. There is also dry litter to scratch and dust bathe (when birds flick dust into their feathers to keep them clean and free from bugs), as well as interesting objects and toys to keep them entertained.  

Where to find: Coles and Woolworths
Brands to look for: Coles turkey and Woolworths turkey 

Free range RSPCA Approved turkey
Raised on farms in NSW’s picturesque Hunter Valley, and in addition to a high quality indoor environment, these turkeys have access to the outdoors to explore and forage during the day. At night, they are housed in comfortable barns to protect them from the weather and predators. Inside the barn, birds have lower stocking densities, perches to help build leg strength, dry litter to scratch and dust bathe, as well as interesting objects or toys to keep them entertained.  

Where to find: Coles
Brands to look for: Coles Finest Free Range 

Higher-welfare RSPCA Approved salmon
Salmon on farms with RSPCA Approved certification have lower stocking densities, allowing fish to swim effortlessly and perform natural schooling behaviours. There’s a focus on good stockpersonship, low-stress handling and proper management of water quality, including oxygen levels and temperature, so salmon have an environment in which they can thrive.  

Where to find: Coles, Woolworths and independents
Brands to look for: RSPCA Approved Huon SalmonPialligo Estate Smokehouse 

RSPCA Approved Eggs
With lower stocking densities both inside the barn and outside (the maximum outdoor stocking density is 1,500 hens per ha or 2,500 if the range area is being rotated) and a quality outdoor range with trees, shrubs and places to dust bathe, these hens can do the things they enjoy. During the day they can wander in and out of their barn as they please, scratching and pecking, and at dusk the hens will instinctively go back to their large barn to roost (rest and sleep). Hens are never confined to cages of any kind and have secluded nest boxes to lay their eggs.  

Where to find: Independents (ACT, NSW, SA and VIC) and Woolworths (SA only) 
Brands to look for: Rohde’s Free Range Eggs (SA and VIC) and Farmer Rod’s Free Range Eggs (ACT and NSW) 

Barn raised RSPCA Approved chicken
Reared in a higher-welfare barn environment, these chickens have lower stocking densities, good lighting and ventilation, perches throughout, interesting objects to peck at (such as shiny disks and coloured plastic chains), and quality litter on the floor to scratch and dust bathe. 

Where to find: ALDI, Coles, David Jones, Woolworths and independents
Brands to look for: ALDI RSPCA Approved chickenColes chickenDavid JonesFreedom FarmsWoolworths chicken 

Free range RSPCA Approved chicken
During the day these chickens have access to an attractive outdoor area. There’s shade to protect them from the sun and plenty of space to explore. At night, birds have shelter and protection inside a large barn, with lower stocking densities, space to move and they can perch, dust bathe and forage. 

Where to find: Coles, David Jones, Woolworths and independents
Brands to look for: Coles Free Range chickenDavid JonesMt Barker Free Range Chicken, The Bare Bird, The Free Ranger  

Slower-growing RSPCA Approved chicken
Raised on farms in the Hunter region, Central Coast and Western Sydney, these chickens have access to the outdoors during the day so that they can forage and explore. They are housed in a barn overnight for shelter and protection. Inside the barn, birds have lower stocking densities, perches to help build leg strength and dry litter to scratch and dust bathe. 

These chickens are called slower growing because they are a poultry breed that grows slower than the more commonly used commercial breeds, thus helping avoid the welfare issues that can arise when chickens are bred to grow too quickly. Find out more about Slow Hills and what it means for chicken welfare. 

Where to find: Coles
Brands to look for: Coles Slow Hills 

Remember that as a consumer, you are a driving force for change … 
So, if you are planning to buy ham, turkey, salmon, chicken, eggs or any product from animals, make sure you’re choosing higher welfare. By looking for the RSPCA Approved certification, you’re supporting farmers that are prioritising farm animal welfare and that’s ultimately leading to more animals benefitting from better conditions on farm. And don’t forget, if you are buying lobsters, crabs and other crustaceans, don’t buy them alive. Buy them frozen or fresh, but already dead, and make sure they’ve been killed humanely. 

From us here at the RSPCA, thank you for caring about the lives of farm animals in 2021. We’d like to wish you a happy, safe and relaxing holiday season and we’re looking forward to sharing more with you in the new year.  

You might also be interested in the one thing you need to know before you buy a lobster this Christmas 

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