How You Can Support Pig and Turkey Welfare This Christmas

The festive season is here again! And with all the seasonal events and activities, there will no doubt be a few Aussies getting a head start on their holiday planning. But during this busy time when we’re rushing to cross everything off the list, it can be easy to overlook researching the products that find their way into your shopping cart.  

Here at the RSPCA, we always want to make sure farm animal welfare can be easily kept top of mind, so we’ve put together some helpful information to guide conscious shoppers this Christmas. 

If you choose to include ham, be sure to opt for higher welfare. 

Pigs are remarkable animals; curious and full of character, there are many things they need for their physical and behavioural needs to be met. For example, it’s essential that pigs are provided with an enriched environment with plenty of room to explore and forage, straw bedding in comfortable lying areas with places for sows to nest with their piglets.  Importantly as well, breeding pigs should be provided wallows to regulate their body temperature and facilitate comfort behaviours – there’s a reason for the saying ‘as happy as a pig in mud’.   

Equally as important is keeping pigs free of extreme confinement. While the use of individual sow stalls (a cage used to house a pregnant gilt/sow) has largely been phased out in Australia in favour of group housing, they are still legal. Other forms of extreme confinement such as boar stalls and farrowing crates are still used widely and pose serious welfare concerns. So, look for products that are not only sow stall free, but free of any cages, this means strictly no sow stalls, boar stalls or farrowing crates. Currently in Australia only outdoor bred or free-range pork comes from farms that do not use these cages. 

Understandably, it can be difficult to know when pork has come from producers doing the right thing by their pigs.  Our labelling guide for pork products is one resource to keep in your conscious cache, and another is to look for the RSPCA Approved logo on packaging. Producers with RSPCA Approved certification rear their pigs to over 300 strict requirements set by the RSPCA that cover their needs for good wellbeing for their lifecycle that extends to transport and a humane death when the time comes.  

RSPCA Approved pork products available this season include

While we’re at it, let’s talk turkey. 

Smart, highly sociable, and curious about the world around them, turkeys are birds with big personalities. Like other poultry, they enjoy dust bathing, exploring their environment, pecking at interesting objects, and socialising with each other.  

Due to their intelligent and inquisitive nature, it’s important that turkeys are reared in environments that provide them with enrichment, space to move about, places to perch to strengthen their bones and muscles, and, if given outdoor access, an inviting area with vegetation and protection from the elements.  

Unfortunately, most of Australia’s turkeys are farmed conventionally, often in barren environments that don’t adequately cater for their needs. Without space to move and flap their wings, and provisions to encourage turkeys to express natural behaviours, they soon become frustrated which can lead to undesirable behaviours, not to mention suffering weakened bones and muscles from lack of exercise. This is no life for a turkey! 

SO, if your festivities include turkey this year, look for brands prioritising turkey welfare, such as those with RSPCA Approved certification. The RSPCA Approved Standard for Turkeys focuses on ensuring they’re reared in environments that encourage their natural behaviours. For barn-raised turkeys this means enriched sheds that have well-managed, quality dry friable litter, more space to move and flap their wings, access to perches, objects to peck and good periods of light to encourage exercise and continuous dark periods for proper rest. Where outdoor areas are provided, they must contain provisions such as adequate shelter and vegetation to make the area inviting. 

RSPCA Approved Turkey products available this season include: 

Don’t forget welfare this Christmas. 

However you’re planning to celebrate over the holidays, remember that the choices we make at the checkout can always be a vote for better farmed animal welfare. If you are choosing to have ham, turkey, salmon, chicken, eggs or any animal-based product on the menu, be sure to select products from brands that source from farmers who rear their animals to better welfare standards and undergo regular robust assessments. And of course, one easy way to do this is to look for the RSPCA Approved logo. 

We wish you a safe and joyful holiday season.  🎄

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