It takes a team of dedicated individuals to keep the many parts of the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme running; both in our office, and on the ground as well. Working directly with farmers, RSPCA Assessors are at the frontline of our operations and are vital to the Scheme’s continued success. But what exactly does being an Assessor involve? Read on to find out.
RSPCA Assessors conduct assessments at farms and abattoirs to verify they are adhering to the detailed Standards set by RSPCA Australia. RSPCA Assessors are skilled in evaluating all areas of the farm or an abattoir where animals are, to check for conformance. On a typical farm or abattoir assessment, an Assessor will carefully and rigorously monitor animal behaviour and their overall physical state, environmental conditions such as bedding, shelter, ventilation, and enrichment, and how the animals are managed. Assessors will also review documentation and records, and any relevant CCTV footage if necessary.
How often a farm is assessed differs between species, depending on the species’ lifecycle. Layer hen, meat chicken and turkey farms are assessed four times in the first year of joining the Scheme. If conformance is good these assessments can drop to three or two times a year. Pig farms are assessed twice per year. Salmon farms are assessed a little differently in that as well as assessment of both freshwater and marine sites, our Assessors evaluate animal handling processes such as vaccinations, grading and slaughter.
Abattoirs within a Producers scope of certification are visited annually by our Assessors; ensuring animals receive the same standard of care and a humane death in this final process is just as important as their welfare on farm.
Assessors come to the RSPCA from varying backgrounds. Many are former farmers or industry professionals, and all bring with them vast experience, insight, and a passion for animal welfare – like Janet, who spent 40 years as a poultry farmer before joining the RSPCA seven years ago, and to whom we dedicate this blog as she’s about to begin her well-deserved retirement.
In her time as an Assessor, Janet has visited an incredible 611 farms, conducted 1803 assessments, and spent 980 nights away from home in regional locations as part of her role. Janet has flown, driven, and walked thousands of kilometres, at times rising before dawn and working well into the evenings assessing multiple sites. She is illustrative of the hard work and dedication to animal welfare that RSPCA Assessors share. We’d like to thank Janet for her commitment to the role, farm animal welfare and all her hard work over the years.
With hundreds of farms now participating in the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme and this number growing, the life of an RSPCA Assessor continues to be a busy one – but it’s a role that’s deeply rewarding and one that helps make a difference to the lives of millions of farm animals.