Welfare science

Wherever possible, we use the results of scientific research covering all areas of farm animal health and welfare to develop our policies and practices.

We believe that this approach is essential because:

  • real improvements in welfare can only be achieved if practices are based on fact, rather than perception about the physical and behavioural needs of farm animals  
  • sound factual evidence is needed to support our stance on welfare issues and to gain credibility and acceptance from the farming industry, government and other important stakeholders  
  • many animal welfare problems are extremely complex and we can only start to try to solve them if we have a detailed understanding of farm animal behaviour and physiology.  

As well as gathering, analysing and applying scientific information from a range of sources, when possible, we also fund research projects ourselves to get information about key welfare issues in areas where progress is needed.  

We use the best available science, and our own (and others') practical experience, to develop welfare standards and practices that improve the lives of animals and that farmers can feasibly apply.

The RSPCA welfare standards for farm animals, as used by the RSPCA Assured scheme, play a particularly important role in helping to translate the results of scientific research into higher-welfare systems and practices that farmers can feasibly use. Where scientific evidence on a particular animal welfare issue is lacking, we use our own (and others¿) practical experience of farming systems, and take a precautionary approach, to develop solutions.