Woolworths’ Long-Held Support of Higher Welfare 

Knowing the story behind the RSPCA Approved logo can help consumers make more informed decisions when shopping for food in their supermarket of choice. And a big part of the RSPCA Approved story is the support of food retailers who help ensure higher welfare options are available to Australians.    

Australian supermarket Woolworths began offering RSPCA Approved chicken in their range of Woolworths brand chicken products in 2014. In 2020, this extended to include products with chicken as an ingredient such as salads, ready-made meals, and sauces. This means that the supermarket chain sources from farms that raise their meat chickens in either an enriched barn or free-range environment that meets the detailed RSPCA Approved standards. Woolworths has also recently added Slow Raised onto their shelves – a slower-growing chicken with RSPCA Approved certification, as well as transitioning Macro chicken to now being sourced from farms with the RSPCA Approved certification. 

What does it mean for a product to come from a farm with RSPCA Approved certification? It means that, whether in a barn environment or free range, the birds have more room to move, are able to perch, and have dry friable little to dust bathe in – among many other things. There are hundreds of requirements in the RSPCA Approved standard that producers have to meet to achieve and maintain RSPCA Approved certification – all backed up by frequent and rigorous assessments. 

The new Slow Raised product on the shelf at Woolworths uses a specialty breed of meat chicken that grows at a slower pace. Once old enough and with full adult feathers, the birds can leave their barns during daylight hours and access a fenced, outdoor range with shaded areas and interesting vegetation to encourage exploring and foraging. This slower-growing meat chicken comes from farms with RSPCA Approved certification that meet a higher welfare standard both indoors and outdoors. These farms are assessed two to four times per year by specially trained Assessors to ensure conformance. And as a humane death is also very important, abattoirs are also assessed against the Standard annually. 

Meat chickens reared for Macro Free Range Chicken have access to an outdoor area where they are free to roam during daylight hours once fully feathered, and when indoors have an enriched environment to encourage activity and natural behaviours. The Standard for meat chickens goes well above the legal standard and contains over 400 requirements that producers must meet for certification, including specific requirements for the outdoor environment on farms where meat chickens have access to an outdoor range. 

By sourcing RSPCA Approved, Woolworths is demonstrating their commitment to providing their customers with chicken farmed to higher welfare standards. This means that meat chickens are raised to have lower stocking densities allowing space to move, perch, dust bathe and forage. They also live with good lighting that encourages them to be active with a period of complete darkness, ensuring they can rest properly each day every day. All of this results in meat chickens living a better quality of life.  

Interested in reading more? 
RSPCA Approved – Our Impact
RSPCA Approved – Know the Story – YouTube 
What Coles and Woolworths are doing to improve the lives of meat chickens


2 responses to “Woolworths’ Long-Held Support of Higher Welfare ”

  1. Silvana says:


    I am interested in knowing which of your products are the slow raised and certainly would encourage more information on how they are raised due to the publicity with poorly housed chickens for both eggs and meat. With beef & pork sold in Woolworths is most of this product grass fed and are any of your meat products raised in enclosed sheds with feed only? I look forward to your reply and may come back to you as I will be looking at the packaging a lot closer and see if information is conveyed.

    • RSPCA Approved says:

      Hi Silvana,
      Thank you for your compassion for farmed animals and your concern for better lives and welfare conditions.

      The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme is a certification program that focuses on improving the quality of life of farmed animals. The RSPCA Approved Standards go well beyond what is legally required in Australia. You can find out more on what RSPCA Approved certification is on our website.

      Farms with RSPCA Approved certification have a focus on providing for the animals behavioural and physical needs and encouraging natural behaviours. For meat chickens this means perches, dry, friable litter, more room to move than legally required, and being handled in a calm, considerate manner. Whether reared indoors or with access to a range, the standards include over 300 requirements a producer must meet for better welfare of the birds. Check the label to confirm if a product has been reared in a free-range environment, for more on labelling, click here. At this time, there are no producers rearing slower-growing meat chickens that are certified by the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme.

      On free-range pig farms with RSPCA Approved certification, pigs have outdoor access year-round with comfortable lying areas that are sheltered from the elements and have quality bedding. Pigs that do not have continuous access to an outdoor area must be provided with sufficient environmental enrichment that allows them to express natural behaviours such as foraging, rooting and chewing. Feed and water must be continuously available in sufficient quantity and quality to meet the pig’s requirements.

      Currently RSPCA Approved pork can only be found in Coles supermarkets. To ensure you’re purchasing products raised to a higher-welfare standard, look for the RSPCA Approved logo on pack. You can see the range of certified products here.

      The RSPCA continues to assess the feasibility of introducing higher-welfare standards for cattle reared for beef. More information on this can be found on the RSPCA Knowledgebase.

      I hope this helps answer your question and thank you again for your compassion towards farmed animals.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *