In anticipation of tomorrow’s World Farm Animal Day, the RSPCA has released updated figures showing more than one billion farm animals have now been raised according to the RSPCA’s higher-welfare standards on farms across Australia.
The RSPCA’s Approved Farming Scheme began in 1996 when Standards were developed to better the lives of layer hens, pigs, turkeys and meat chickens in Australia, by providing higher standards than those recommended by the model codes of practice for the welfare of poultry and pigs.
RSPCA Australia Humane Food Marketing Manager Hope Bertram said it was Australian consumers who have helped achieve this major milestone.
“It’s important to understand the alternative for these animals was life on a conventional farm, where the very basic standards permitted by law might not meet their needs,” said Ms Bertram.
“And increasingly, those basic standards are no longer meeting consumer expectations, as more and more Australians continue to demand more humane food options.
“Australians who choose to eat meat and consume eggs want to know the animals have been raised to better welfare standards with the ability to express all their natural behaviours on farm.
“For the average consumer, it’s hard to even comprehend what a billion farm animal looks like; but behind that number are all the smart, social, individual animals that have had a better life than they would have otherwise, thanks to the RSPCA Standards.
“A billion farm animals raised to RSPCA Standards since the Scheme started 21 years ago is a clear indication more Australians are making more humane choices when shopping and dining out, and that humane farming is both good for animals and makes good business sense.
“By raising the public’s awareness of farm animal welfare and ensuring consumers can readily buy higher welfare alternatives at the supermarket, the RSPCA aims to create demand and an incentive for producers to adopt humane farming practices,” said Ms Bertram.
RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme Standards focus on animals being treated in a way that meets their physiological and psychological needs.
This includes not permitting intensive confinement, such as the use of battery cages for hens, sow stalls or farrowing crates for pigs - practices still legally allowed and widely used in conventional systems.
“The Standards are developed and routinely reviewed to reflect the latest in animal welfare science, as well as to ensure continual improvement of each animal’s quality of life,” said Ms Bertram.
RSPCA Approved farms are assessed at least twice every year to check compliance with the standards.