Sunday 2 October is World Farm Animals Day. Here at the RSPCA, this is an opportunity to reflect on all of the ways in which we work to improve farm animal welfare – from working with government and industry to improve farming practices, to providing advice to welfare-conscious businesses and consumers about how to choose higher welfare food.
Each year on World Farm Animals Day, we highlight our programs, initiatives and resources that help improve farm animal welfare. In particular, we’d like to highlight here the extensive impact that the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme has year-on-year for farm animals. So, we take this opportunity to reflect on the work we’ve done throughout the year, the challenges we’ve faced, how many animals’ lives we’ve positively impacted and how we’ve done it – and to remind ourselves how much work there is ahead of us to make animals’ lives better and to continually raise the bar for animal welfare.
Raising the bar for farm animal welfare
For more than 26 years, the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme has been improving the lives of Australian farm animals. Developed to improve the welfare outcomes for Australia’s most intensively farmed animals, the Scheme continues to drive tangible and incremental change for animals reared by participating Producers on farms that cater for their physical and psychological needs, well beyond what’s legally required.
The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme is like no other in Australia. It is underpinned by animal-specific Standards that are focused on ensuring farms with the RSPCA Approved certification are providing their animals with everything they need for better welfare. With 531 farms currently participating in the Scheme, the RSPCA is proud to play an important role in ensuring better lives for Australian farm animals. But we know there’s so much more to do to improve welfare for these animals, which is why we are committed to working with the industry to keep raising the bar.
A robust certification process
A crucial aspect of the Scheme is making sure Producers with RSPCA Approved certification are regularly assessed across their farms and abattoirs, to make sure the standards are consistently being met. In 2021, RSPCA Assessors conducted 1,177 farm assessments, across egg-laying hens, meat chickens, turkeys, pigs and farmed Atlantic salmon. These farms raised a total of 608,880,052 animals in 2021 to the RSPCA’s standards. Animals reared to the RSPCA’s standards benefit from having adequate space to move freely, provisions such as quality litter and comfortable bedding, enrichments designed to exercise their minds and bodies and much more.
And it’s not only on farm that RSPCA standards are implemented and monitored. The RSPCA believes that farm animals should not only be reared in environments that meet their needs, but when the time comes, they should experience a low-stress and humane death. In 2021 Assessors conducted 28 assessments at abattoirs who slaughter animals for Producers with RSPCA Approved certification. Participating abattoirs are regularly assessed to ensure that requirements under RSPCA standards are met which aim for calm and careful handling, and appropriate stunning required to avoid unnecessary suffering.
Australians care about farm animal welfare
Research conducted by McCrindle in 2021 has also once again shown just how much Australians care about the welfare of animals, with research showing that 73% of you believe animal welfare is an important consideration when purchasing food products. We continue to see welfare conscious consumers seeking out RSPCA Approved certification, with 3 in 5 grocery buyers now looking for the RSPCA Approved logo. There are currently over 1000 products with the RSPCA Approved certification that are available in major retailers nationally; so, shopping with welfare in mind, for a certification that Australians know and trust, is easier than ever before.
The growth and scale of the Scheme illustrates the vast number of farm animal lives positively impacted, though we recognise there is still more work to do and more improvements that need to be made. Our work and achievements would not be possible without the trust of consumers who continue to support forward-thinking farmers prioritising animal welfare by choosing RPSCA Approved. These market demands drive more brands to seek RSPCA Approved certification and more Producers to join the Scheme which results in more farm animals living better lives with humane deaths.
Of course, RSPCA Approved is just one of the many ways in which the RSPCA works to improve the lives of farm animals. Our work includes providing advice to government and key decision-makers about animal welfare, participating in industry working groups, educating and informing the community about farm animal welfare, and mobilising our supporters to take action. You can read more on our role in farm animal welfare on our website.
On this year’s World Farm Animals Day, from the RSPCA team, we say thank you – to the dedicated farmers, and brands who have made the shift towards higher welfare farming, and to you, the consumers who make it possible.
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