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RSPCA Policy B3 Environment and housing


RSPCA Australia believes that in all farming systems, animals must be provided with freedom of movement and the ability to satisfy their behavioural, social, and physiological preferences and needs. This includes the provision of an environment and materials/ objects that allow animals to satisfy their behavioural motivations and avoid negative states while allowing for the experience of positive states. For this reason, the RSPCA believes*:

  1. pregnant sows must be able to exhibit nesting behaviour
  2. pigs must be able to root, forage and explore
  3. layer hens must be able to perch, dust bathe, forage, ground scratch, stretch and flap their wings, and lay their eggs in a nest
  4. meat chickens and turkeys must be able to perch, dust bathe, forage, ground scratch, and stretch and flap their wings.
  5. cattle and sheep must be able to graze outdoors
  6. farmed fish must be able to swim normally and held in good quality water of a suitable temperature and containing sufficient oxygen.
3.2RSPCA Australia believes that farming systems must be designed to avoid pain, injury, suffering and distress, and be operated to safeguard the health and welfare of the species concerned.
3.3RSPCA Australia believes that farm animals must be provided with sufficient protection from adverse weather conditions to maintain health and welfare.
3.4RSPCA Australia believes that the number of animals kept within a farming system and their individual space allowance must not impede normal movement, normal behaviours or postures, or negatively affect the comfort of the animals. Gregarious animals must be housed in groups.
3.5RSPCA Australia believes that terrestrial animals must be provided with flooring and bedding material which is appropriate for the species, which satisfies behavioural motivations, and which prevents the experience of poor health or welfare. Animals in a group must be given sufficient space to allow all animals to lie down on clean, dry bedding material at the same time.
3.6RSPCA Australia believes that, in aquaculture systems, water quality and water temperature must be managed to ensure sufficient supply of oxygen and disposal of waste to avoid suffering and distress.
3.7RSPCA Australia believes that animals must be provided with sufficient and appropriate light to encourage normal behaviours as well as periods of darkness of sufficient length to allow proper rest, similar to the natural light and dark periods as determined by the local diurnal cycle.
3.8RSPCA Australia believes that, where animals have access to an outdoor area, it must, for all animals, allow easy access, provide adequate shade and shelter, protection from predators, and encourage the expression of normal behaviours.

RSPCA Australia opposes the following housing systems*:

  1. gestation stalls for housing sows during pregnancy
  2. farrowing systems that restrict the sow’s movements and normal behaviours during birth of her piglets and lactation
  3. tethering of sows
  4. permanent penning of individually housed sheep
  5. cages for poultry.

* This is not an exhaustive list and for species and/or housing systems not specifically listed, B1 Farm animals – general principles as well as any other relevant farm animal policies apply.

(Reviewed 28/03/2018)

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Updated on December 9, 2020

RSPCA policies reflect the best available evidence to direct and guide RSPCA and others, to promote and achieve good animal welfare outcomes.

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