More than 900 million farm animals are reared every year in the UK. Unfortunately the law alone is not always strong or detailed enough to ensure that they all have a good quality of life, and are transported and slaughtered humanely.
Responsibility for farm animal welfare does not just lie with the farmers and stock-keepers that look after them. Governments, food retailers and consumers, all have a lot of power to help raise welfare standards, and ensure all farm animals can lead lives worth living.
It is a huge challenge to try to improve the welfare of such a large number of animals. We work in a number of different ways to encourage improvements, and we always use all available scientific information and practical evidence to help inform development of our policies and activities.
One practical way we try to do this is through our RSPCA Assured scheme (formerly known as Freedom Food). The assurance scheme was set up by the RSPCA in 1994 and remains the only UK farm assurance scheme that is solely dedicated to improving the welfare of farm animals reared for food. The scheme approves farms, including indoor and outdoor production systems, that meet RSPCA welfare standards for farm animals. The farm’s hauliers and slaughterhouses also need to meet our standards.
As of end 2016, an impressive 700 million cattle, chickens, ducks, hens, pigs, sheep and turkeys have been covered by the RSPCA Assured scheme since 1994 and there are currently 45 million of these animals on the scheme. In addition there are over 189 million salmon covered by RSPCA Assured. To mark the twentieth anniversary of RSPCA Assured an independent report was published to consider the developments in livestock farming over the last two decades.
Labelling and animal welfare
Consumers have a right to know where their meat comes from, how it was reared, and how it was killed...
Slaughter of animals
Once a farm animal has been reared it must be slaughtered before it can be eaten. The RSPCA is concerned...