Animal Welfare | Red Tractor

Animal Welfare

Added 05 Feb 2018
Farmers have a role in protecting an animal's welfare by providing for its physical and mental needs. At a basic level this includes access to sufficient food and clean water in a safe environment.
The animal welfare elements within Red Tractor standards encompasses a whole raft of additional measures, carried out on farm to protect and enhance the lives of animals. This ranges from the amount of space an animal has to live in to enrichments designed to encourage the expression of natural behaviors. 
Since 2000 Red Tractor has been developing animal welfare standards involving consultation with animal welfare experts and veterinarians. This provides a cast-iron guarantee to shoppers that the food they are buying has been produced to a good standard.
A rigorous program of farm audits means that every farm that is Red Tractor assured will receive a regular independent assessment to check that the animal welfare standards on farm match the requirements of the scheme.
Audits are a vital tool in upholding standards so shoppers can have total confidence in the Red Tractor logo, but it is only part of what the scheme delivers for animal welfare.
Far from being a spot-check culture, the focus is to ensure the long-term health and wellbeing of animals.
This starts with preventative measures to help maximise the health of animals on farm. Standards covering farm biosecurity help to limit the risk of diseases spreading which may harm animals.
Of course, animals do occasionally get sick, so our farms must keep detailed information which evidences how they were treated, which medicines were used and when treatment ended.
On all our farms, farmers must devise a health plan for the entire herd / flock which details how they improve health & welfare and proactively manage common problems relating to animal health – similar to how you might treat a family pet for fleas and ticks. These treatments and processes must be prescribed by the farm’s vet.
Antibiotics are used as little as possible but as much as required to protect the health of the animal.
Red Tractor’s standards on antibiotics have been set to meet the best practice set out by the Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture Alliance, which promotes the highest standards of animal health and animal welfare in the British livestock industry.
Animal welfare standards start at birth and end at slaughter, covering everything in-between, from access to colostrum for a new-born calf, to limits on the amount of time an animal spends travelling from farm to the slaughterhouse.
The UK has some of the highest animal welfare standards in the world, but in some instances Red Tractor’s standards go above and beyond what is required by law.
For example, chickens produced in an indoor environment are given more space per bird than is required on non-assured farms.
The Red Tractor scheme was also the first assurance body to voluntarily introduce the measuring of animal welfare outcome scoring on pig farms and has subsequently added the initiative to the dairy sector. Welfare outcome scoring involves an on-farm assessment using a range of measures e.g. lameness.  These measures are obtained from the animals themselves, rather than from their environment. 
Red Tractor pig farmers have a welfare outcome assessment by a veterinarian 2 to 4 times a year (depending on the number of pigs on the farm). Feedback by the vet and through national benchmarking is provided to ensure continuous improvement.
Red Tractor dairy farmers have a welfare outcome assessment as part of their routine Red Tractor farm assurance assessment at least every 18 months and feedback is provided to the farmer.
The welfare of an animal is of utmost importance to farmers and shoppers. Having high standards of animal welfare is one of the cornerstones of Red Tractor assured food.
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