Farm animals play a vital role in every country. There has been a sharp rise in global meat, egg and dairy production in recent years, and secure and safe food supply depends on the husbandry, veterinary care and nutrition that animals receive.
The challenge is to meet the increased demand for animal products while achieving higher welfare within different livestock production systems, at each stage of the animals’ lives. This affects both large commercial producers and small-scale, subsistence farmers. In less developed parts of the world farm animals are not only part of a subsistence diet but are a major contribution to livelihoods.
RSPCA International and agriculture
Our work extends from setting standards for and auditing farm assurance schemes, to advising on improving legislation and implementing World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards. The OIE has set six standards on farm animal welfare relating to slaughter and transport, and a further two on poultry and beef cattle are currently being developed. The RSPCA produces the standards for the largest welfare-based food labelling and farm assurance scheme worldwide – Freedom Food.
We are concerned with improving farm animal welfare at all stages of the animals’ lives, on farm through to slaughter. We are working in partnership to develop welfare outcome assessment as a means of measuring welfare. This involves looking at the outcomes or effects of different standards on animals and not just the inputs (the standards themselves, for example, diet and environment). We are able to share our experience internationally through training and organised visits to assured farms in the UK to show how systems work in practice.
We also provide training in improved husbandry techniques and in the delivery of poultry vaccination programmes. These programmes improve the health and welfare of livestock that provide a valuable resource to low-income households.
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