Better lives for 3 billion farm animals and counting

The RSPCA has today released a detailed report highlighting the positive impact the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme is having on the lives of Australian farm animals.

Established in 1996, the Scheme is in its 25th year and continues to play a key role in the RSPCA’s efforts to drive continuous improvements for farm animal welfare.

During this time, the Scheme has seen more than three billion of Australia’s most intensively farmed animals - egg-laying hens, pigs, meat chickens, turkeys and farmed Atlantic salmon - benefit from higher welfare farming conditions.  

In 2020 more than 585 million animals were raised under the Scheme and in accordance with its detailed animal welfare Standards. The vast majority of these animals were meat chickens, with 87% of Australia’s total meat chicken production now meeting the RSPCA Standard.

“Our Scheme is like no other in Australia. We have comprehensive standards that are focused on improving animal welfare, as well as a certification process that’s tough and stringent,” said RSPCA Australia CEO Richard Mussell.

Developed by RSPCA Australia’s science team, the RSPCA Standards are informed by animal welfare science, RSPCA policy and leading farming practices in Australia and overseas.  

“The RSPCA Standards go above and beyond what’s legally required in Australia, and aim to work with large-scale producers to raise the bar for animal welfare in a way that’s tangible and sustainable long term. 

“We want to set participating farms on a path of continuous improvement in animal welfare while maintaining commercial viability, because ultimately this improves the lives of hundreds of millions of animals each and every year.”

Farms participating in the Scheme must meet the RSPCA’s animal welfare Standards and be subject to a demanding, ongoing certification process. A key part of this is frequent assessments by   specially trained RSPCA Assessors.

“Participating farms are part of the Scheme because animal welfare is important to them.   They also want Australians to see the RSPCA Approved certification on their products when they are grocery shopping or dining out, and know that the only way to get this certification is to be rigorously assessed by the RSPCA.

“Australians should also know that when they choose the RSPCA Approved certification, it is leading to an increased uptake of higher welfare farming practices along the supply chain. And that’s a good thing because making sure all animals - including those farmed for food - have a good   quality of life, is paramount.”


Links and additional information

Impact Report 2020


Additional data released in the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme Impact Report 2020

  • 579 million meat chickens farmed to the RSPCA Standard

  • 5.5 million farmed Atlantic salmon farmed to the RSPCA Standard

  • 200,784 turkeys farmed to the RSPCA Standard

  • 88,705 pigs farmed to the RSPCA Standard

  • 86,771 layer hens farmed to the RSPCA Standard

  • 525 farms participated in the Scheme

  • 36 forward-thinking brands sourcing RSPCA Approved products 

  • More than 1,000 products available with the RSPCA Approved certification 

Key consumer insights

  • 95% of Australians are concerned about farm animal welfare, and 91% want at least some reform to address this – Futureye, 2018 

  • Half of all consumers pay more attention to labels on chicken meat packaging than they did 5 years ago – AgriFutures, 2021

  • More than 3 out of 4 Australian consumers say that having a third-party audited animal welfare program with established standards is important to them when purchasing chicken – AgriFutures, 2021