The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme is Australia’s leading independent certification scheme focused on animal welfare. We work closely with farmers to make a positive impact on the lives of farm animals by providing an environment that meets their needs. More than 2.5 billion hens, pigs, chickens, turkeys and farmed Atlantic salmon have benefitted from higher welfare conditions since the Scheme began.
With the release of the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme Standard for Dairy Calves, the RSPCA is encouraging farmers to raise calves to higher welfare standards. Consumer demand for dairy veal or dairy beef has the potential to help reduce the number of bobby calves treated as by-products of dairy farming. Find out more about what RSPCA Approved means for dairy calves.
Key aspects of the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme Standards for Dairy Calves include:
- Staff that are trained and competent in their required tasks
- Health management and monitoring procedures, including euthanasia
- Calves must be fed good quality colostrum in their first day of life
- Calves must be fed a diet that prevents mineral or vitamin deficiencies
- Calves must be fed milk through a teat feeder to satisfy the behavioural need to suckle
- Calves must be provided with bedding
- Calves must be provided with environmental enrichment materials
- Calves must have access to an outdoor area or paddock from 8 weeks of age
- Calves must be housed in groups with sufficient space each to enable expression of social and play behaviours
- Calves must be handled calmly and quietly
- Aversive practices such as tethering, dehorning, hot iron branding, and nose rings are not permitted
- Calves must be at least 10 days old before they are allowed to be transported and young calves under 8 weeks old require bedding or rubber matting in the transport vehicle
- Calves must have enough room on the transport vehicle to all be able to lie down
- Calves must be humanely slaughtered
Good animal welfare relies on meeting an animal’s physiological needs (for example good health, good nutrition, comfortable housing), good stockpersonship (for example low-stress animal handling), providing for innate behavioural needs (for example, in calves, the ability to suckle, chew, ruminate, the company of other calves), and providing the opportunity to have positive experiences (for example through play and locomotor behaviours, through active engagement with their surroundings). Good welfare can be achieved where calves are provided with sufficient space to play in the company of other calves, sufficient quantity of milk to prevent hunger and competition at the feeder, teat feeders to satisfy the need to suckle, and roughage to promote chewing and rumination and express foraging behaviour, and bedding to allow for thermal comfort as well as nesting.
To learn more about the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme or to download the Standard visit our website.