RSPCA welfare standards
Helping to improve the lives of millions of farm animals
Our science team works to develop RSPCA welfare standards for each of the major farm animal species. These detailed documents are intended to represent good practice in the care and welfare of farm animals.
They cover every aspect of the animals’ lives, including feed and water provision, the environment they live in, how they are managed, health care, transport, and humane slaughter/killing. The standards are designed to ensure that all animals reared according to the requirements have everything they need for a better quality of life, whether they are kept on large or small farms, or in indoor or outdoor production systems.
The standards are set at the limit of what is achievable, in terms of animal husbandry and commercial viability, and aim to deliver improved animal welfare above and beyond 'standard' or typical UK production.
The standards are applied through our higher welfare food labelling and farm assurance scheme, Freedom Food, as well as being used by a variety of other bodies and individuals in the UK and beyond. The RSPCA welfare standards have had a significant influence on the animal production standards set by many major retailers for their suppliers, and on various assurance schemes in the UK and overseas. In some instances, the standards have also been used by UK and overseas governments and governmental bodies to inform legislation and associated guidance/recommendations.
How are the RSPCA welfare standards developed?
We work to continually develop and improve our welfare standards using a range of information, including the latest scientific research and practical farming experience. We regularly consult with other animal welfare and agricultural scientists, veterinary surgeons, and farming industry representatives. This helps to ensure that the RSPCA welfare standards continue to be at the forefront of farm animal care and welfare, and are also achievable on commercial farms.
We also take account of feedback from RSPCA field staff (Farm Livestock Officers), who carry out monitoring of the Freedom Food scheme, Freedom Food assessors who audit scheme members, and the scheme members themselves.
Details regarding the evidence base we use when developing the welfare standards are set out in The evidence base for farm animal welfare (PDF 49KB).
Further details on the RSPCA welfare standards for different species are available in the navigation.