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.
Currently, the RSPCA has animal welfare standards for layer hens, pigs, meat chickens, turkeys, farmed Atlantic salmon and dairy calves.
The nature of dairy farming in Australia means that animals generally aren’t affected by the same welfare concerns related to behavioural restriction faced by animals in intense confinement (such as can be experienced by layer hens, pigs, meat chickens, turkeys and ducks).
In contrast to the fairly intensive nature of dairy production overseas – where cows may be housed in sheds for their entire lives – most Australian dairy cows spend at least part of the day on green pasture. Welfare issues in the dairy industry include the treatment of bobby calves, mastitis and lameness in dairy cows, the induction of calves, tail docking of dairy cows, and dehorning of dairy calves (see linked articles below). Australian dairy cows generally have lower levels of mastitis and lameness than those in the US and UK, are not routinely tail docked, and calves are not reared in extreme confinement.
In the absence of RSPCA standards for dairy production, consumers are encouraged to contact the manufacturers of their favourite dairy products and ask them about standards of care for cows and calves.
Some questions to ask:
- Do you source milk from farmers who don’t tail dock their cows?
- Do you source milk from farmers who don’t induce calving?
- Do you source milk from farmers who use pain management when disbudding calves?
- Do you source milk from farmers who have a lameness and mastitis reduction strategy in place?
- Do you source milk from farmers who are finding ways to grow bobby calves out for veal or beef?
- Do you source milk from farms that don’t export breeding cows?
- Do you source milk from farms that are allowing more contact between cow and calf?