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RSPCA Policy B2 Intensive farming practices

Article ID: 165
Last updated: 01 Nov, 2010
Revision: 1
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 2.1 RSPCA Australia is opposed to the confinement of animals or husbandry and management procedures which deny the animal freedom of movement and the ability to satisfy its behavioural, social and physiological needs.
 2.2 Aquaculture
 2.2.1 RSPCA Australia believes that aquaculture (the farming of fish and crustaceans) should only occur where the management, husbandry and environmental conditions provided are designed to minimise any associated injury, suffering or distress to the animals. 

Factors influencing the welfare of farmed fish and crustaceans include water quality, water temperature, food and feeding, stocking density, equipment (including housing), husbandry practices, health, humane slaughter as well as handling, transport, predator control and environmental enrichment. 

 2.3 Housing of pigs 
 2.3.1 RSPCA Australia believes that housing systems for pigs must consist of enhanced indoor environments or well-managed extensive outdoor systems and must provide the space or environment to cater for the behavioural, social and physiological needs of sows, gilts, boars, and piglets. Providing pigs with the space and environment to root, forage and explore is particularly important. 
2.3.2 RSPCA Australia is opposed to the tethering of sows and the use of traditional single stalls for housing sows during pregnancy because of the restrictions and adverse effects that these housing methods have on pigs’ movement, social interactions and behaviour.
2.3.3 Housing systems for lactating sows must be designed and operated in such a way to safeguard the welfare of both the sow and her piglets. RSPCA Australia supports the use of farrowing systems that provide freedom of movement and meet the sow’s and piglets’ behavioural and physiological needs.

Pigs must have free access to a suitable type and quantity of dry, clean bedding materials at all times. The provision of adequate bedding is particularly important for farrowing sows to facilitate nesting behaviour.

See also: RSPCA Australia Approved Farming Scheme standards: pigs http://rspca.org.au/assets/files/ApprovedFarming/PigStandards.pdf.

2.4 Housing of sheep
2.4.1 RSPCA Australia is opposed to the individual penning of housed sheep due to the inevitable suffering caused by the restriction of the animal’s movements and behavioural patterns.
2.4.2 If sheep are to be housed, they must be penned in groups to allow flocking behaviour and have sufficient space to allow all animals to lie down at the same time. 
2.4.3 Housed sheep must have free access to a suitable type and quantity of dry, clean bedding materials at all times.
2.5 Cages for poultry 
2.5.1 RSPCA Australia is opposed to the keeping of poultry (layer hens and breeders) in cages – be they conventional or enriched – because of the restrictions and adverse effects that these housing methods have on a bird’s movement, social interactions and behaviour. 
2.5.2 RSPCA Australia supports housing systems that protect the welfare of the individual bird and in which the hens can perch, roost, dustbathe, forage for food, satisfy their urge to lay their eggs in a nest and in which stocking density is appropriate to allow hens to stand properly, walk and stretch or flap their wings.

Housing systems for poultry must protect the individual bird from predation, disease and weather extremes.

See also: RSPCA Australia Approved Farming Scheme standards: layer hens http://rspca.org.au/assets/files/ApprovedFarming/LayerhensStandards.pdf.  

 2.6 Poultry used for meat production
2.6.1 RSPCA Australia is opposed to systems in which the welfare of poultry used for meat production, at any stage of the production process, is compromised to the extent that the bird suffers pain, injury or distress.
2.6.2 RSPCA Australia supports poultry meat production systems in which breeding programs and on-farm management has eliminated leg weakness, joint problems and other factors associated with fast growth rate and in which the housing, husbandry and management provide for the health and welfare needs of the individual bird
2.7 Feedlots
2.7.1 Feedlots are yarded areas in which cattle and sheep are held in close confinement and where food and water must be supplied mechanically or by hand for the duration of the confinement.
2.7.2 RSPCA Australia advocates that the establishment and continued operation of feedlots be regulated, independently audited and, at the very minimum, operated in accordance with the relevant Standard/Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals. The feedlot must provide for:
  • The proper construction and maintenance of facilities to high standards and the employment of full time, well trained and sufficient personnel.
  • The correct siting of the feedlot to meet the needs of the confined animals for proper shelter from the weather, a well drained, hard standing surface and a constant supply of suitable and sufficient food and water.
  • The full-time employment of veterinarians experienced with feedlot animals whose instructions regarding the maintenance of animal health and welfare must be followed.
  • Sick animals to be quickly identified and isolated in proper sick bay facilities with appropriate treatment instituted.
  • Special facilities for the proper care and handling of offspring born to confined mothers.
  • Constant monitoring of food quality, palatability, and disease processes
2.7.3 RSPCA Australia supports the adoption of strategies to prevent heat stress in feedlot animals during periods of the year that present a risk of such a condition occurring.

(adopted 01/08/08)

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RSPCA Policy B1 Farm animals - general principles       RSPCA Policy B3 Breeding of farm animals