Welfare facts

Here are just a few of the welfare problems facing many farm animals in Britain today. For more information check out the RSPCA’s farm animal pages.

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  • Cages (Hens)

    About 50% of British hens that lay our eggs still live in battery cages. They are now ‘enriched’ battery cages, but can still give each bird no more usable space than an A4 piece of paper. Cages seriously restrict their movement and ability to behave naturally. Cages are not permitted under Freedom Food.

    Other welfare issues include:
    + lack of space
    + lack of environmental enrichment
    + inadequate facilities

  • Fast Growth (Chickens)

    Chickens farmed for meat have been bred to grow very quickly. A fast growth rate increases the risk of birds getting heart and leg problems that can cause considerable suffering. Freedom Food approved farms must only use breeds of chickens that have been considered by the RSPCA to have an acceptable level of welfare.

    Other welfare issues include:
    + lack of space
    + no natural light
    + lack of environmental enrichment

  • Farrowing Crates (Pigs)

    Farrowing crates are designed to help stop piglets being squashed by their mother (sow). However, they often have little or no bedding or nesting material and seriously restrict the mother’s movement. New members are not allowed to use farrowing crates, as alternatives have been found. And, existing members are only allowed to use them for up to 5 days after birth until 2014.

    Other welfare issues include:
    + tail docking, teeth clipping/grinding and nose ringing
    + lack of bedding and appropriate environmental enrichment

  • Poor housing (Cattle)

    Some beef and dairy cattle housing has inadequate space, poor lighting, and poor ventilation, which can cause health and welfare problems. Freedom Food approved farms must provide an environment that meets the specific animal’s needs.

    Other welfare issues include:
    + poor health and welfare issues related to some breeds
    + shooting or live transport of male dairy calves
    + high levels of conditions such as lameness

  • Lack of Space & Enrichment (Turkeys)

    Many turkeys live in barren environments and do not have enough space to easily move around. Overcrowded buildings can make it difficult to maintain good air and bedding quality. Freedom Food turkeys have more space which encourages them to be more active.

    Other welfare issues include:
    + poor lighting
    + poor bedding quality
    + lack of environmental enrichment

  • Inadequate Inspections (Sheep)

    Many shepherds in Britain are looking after increasingly large flocks. This makes them much harder to manage (especially if they remain outside during winter), which means that animals may not get treated immediately if they become sick or injured. RSPCA welfare standards set out minimum levels of inspections.

    Other welfare issues include:
    + live transport
    + ongoing problems with conditions such as lameness, sheep scab and resistance to wormers
    + castration and tail docking

  • Water Quality (Salmon)

    It is imperative that fish farms carefully monitor the temperature, oxygen and pH levels of water to ensure the welfare of salmon, which can experience suffering like any animal. Freedom Food approved farms must meet the standards set down by the RSPCA.

    Other welfare issues include:
    + appropriate amount of space
    + careful and considerate handling

  • Open Water Source (Ducks)

    Ducks are waterfowl and need full body access to open water to be able to fully and freely carry out their natural water-related behaviours, such as preening, which helps keep them clean and in good condition. However, care must be taken to make sure that the water source is managed properly as ducks prefer to bathe in clean water. Freedom Food farms must provide ducks with full body access to water. The RSPCA is also introducing new standards following extensive research.

    Other welfare issues include:
    + no natural light

  • Live Transport

    Live transport from the UK can be a frightening experience for animals. Often hot, cramped conditions and long periods without adequate food and water can cause animals to become sick or injured. And, some farms on the continent may not meet minimum UK welfare standards. Freedom Food approved cattle farms may not export their calves live from the UK.