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Our Planet

Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare Charter

Animal Welfare is of the utmost importance to Woolworths and to our customers. We are committed to working with our Australian farmers and suppliers to focus attention on good animal welfare. In addition to this, we consult with veterinarians, academics, government representatives, training providers, RSPCA, Animals Australia and Compassion in World Farming. We have aligned our policy and messaging with Compassion in World Farming and we are working towards a Tier 1 Score on the Business Benchmark for Animal Welfare.

Animal Welfare Policy

Woolworths' animal welfare policies cover all aspects of animal rearing, health, welfare, feed, production systems, environment, stocking, transport and slaughter which all centre around the Five Freedoms proposed by the Farm Animal Welfare Council. Our Animal Welfare policies are implemented through the supplier excellence program covering own brand products with animal welfare progress reported annually as part of the Corporate Responsibility report.

Animal Welfare

We are committed to working responsibly in this area and to continue to progress and influence best practice. This includes dairy, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, pigs and aquaculture species. This approach is based on and endorses the following Five Freedoms, proposed by Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC):

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst
  • Freedom from discomfort
  • Freedom from pain, injury or disease
  • Freedom to express normal behaviour
  • Freedom from fear and distress

This includes dairy, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, pigs and aquaculture species.

No freedom is enough in isolation and as such we must provide our animals with the 5 freedoms so our farm animals can live healthy lives. These freedoms define ideal states rather than standards for acceptable welfare.

Choice, through exposure to a range of diverse environmental conditions, is likely to be just as important for attaining better welfare outcomes for farmed species, as are enrichment practices promoting ’wild-type’ behaviours.

Woolworths also recognises the five provisions and is starting to understand how these can be written into Woolworths Animal Welfare standards.


Animal Welfare Aims
Good nutrition: provide ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full and vigour Minimise thirst and hunger and enable eating to be a pleasurable experience
Good environment: Provide shade/shelter or suitable housing, good air quality and comfortable resting areas Minimise discomfort and exposure an promote thermal, physical and other comforts
Good health: Prevent shade/shelter or suitable housing, good air quality and comfortable resting areas Minimise breathlessness, nausea pain and other aversive experiences and promote the pleasures of robustness, vigour, strength and well-coordinated physical activity
Appropriate behaviour: Provide sufficient space, proper facilities, congenial company and appropriately varies conditions Minimise threats and unpleasant restrictions on behaviour and promote engagement in rewarding activities
Positive mental experiences: Provide safe, congenial and species-appropriate opportunities to have pleasurable experiences Promote various forms of comfort, pleasure, interest, confidence and a sense of control

Mellor 2016

Animal Welfare Management

The day to day management of Animal Welfare is managed by our Animal Welfare manager Anna Playfair-Hannay

Commitments and Target Setting

Our goal is to stop sourcing shell eggs and as an ingredient from caged hens by 2025. Woolworths own-brand products in-store where chicken is a defined visible ingredient (i.e. chicken pieces) will also use RSPCA (or equivalent) standard by December 2020.

Genetically Modified

We do not allow the use of GM ingredients in Woolworths branded products. We do not prohibit the use of GM feed in the production of our non-organic meat, eggs and milk. We offer an organic range for those customers who prefer to avoid products from animals who may have had GM feed. Our requirements on GM ingredients are communicated to our Own Brand suppliers in our Brand Guidelines and Woolworths supplier excellence program.

  1. Genetic Engineering: In our Own Brand Woolworths do not allow any livestock to be genetically modified or cloned. This includes dairy, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, pigs and aquaculture.
  2. Growth Promotants: Our Own Brand dairy, lamb, poultry, eggs, pigs and aquaculture species are reared without Growth Promotants. We work with the beef industry to national standards.


At Woolworths, we recognise the importance of antibiotics in human and animal medicine and the risk of their improper use. We encourage our producers to optimise welfare, health, hygiene, husbandry and biosecurity of animals and avoid the need to use antibiotic treatment unless the welfare of an animal is compromised. Veterinary medicines, including antibiotics, are only used under veterinary guidance.

Woolworths has joined the Antimicrobial Stewardship program which includes The Office of the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer, Australian livestock industries, AgriFutures Australia, Australian Pork and Chicken Meat. The program is using the 5 R’s approach of Responsibility, Reduction, Refinement, Replacement and Review to take a judicious approach to Antibiotic usage.

Mutilations/ Husbandry Practices

Woolworths is opposed to mutilations but recognises that they are carried out for welfare purposes on veterinary advice. These mutilations should be avoided where possible, use the most humane technique by a trained and competent individual, and that appropriate analgesia is administered. None of our Free Range pigs have their tails docked and no sheep used for Woolworths' lamb is mulesed. 100% of our Farmers Own Dairy cows are free from tail docking. For Farmers Own cattle we have a disbudding standard in place.

Livestock Transport

Within our Livestock Requirements we specify that all livestock transport times must be kept to a minimum. We verify this at audit. We’ve recently completed a transport standard in association with the Australian Trucking Association and Truck Safe. The standard is best in class and covers all species being transported.

Animal Welfare Training

Woolworths has trained the Beef purchasing team on Animal Welfare to Aus-meat Animal Welfare Certification System (AAWCS).  Using Compassion in World Farming Animal Welfare training – Basic level 1 as a template we have started training our colleagues on Animal Welfare of Broiler Chickens, Hens and Pigs.  

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)

Woolworths has CCTV coverage of poultry livestock handling, throughout the Australian livestock supply chain. Currently, this is evident in 100% of our sites. Woolworths is able to access this CCTV during audits and upon request. Any non-conformances will be reported to Woolworths Animal Welfare Manager.

Pre-slaughter Stunning

All Woolworths' farm animals are stunned prior to slaughter.  In addition, we require all our producers of livestock to record the pre-slaughter stunning process and efficacy of the system which we verify at audit. Each species has a different approach and we work with producers, to ensure the procedure is achieved 100% of the time, is humane and uses the best available recognised techniques.

Animal Welfare Policy Efficacy

Woolworths Animal Welfare policy is measured using an independent audit as part of the Supplier Excellence program. These measures are reported back through Woolworths supplier excellence program to the Quality and Sustainability team. Non-compliances are reported back to Woolworths supplier excellence program. In addition, all our abattoirs are independently audited by a third party Ausmeat.

Welfare Outcomes/Performance Outcomes

During Quarterly Technical Reviews we review welfare outcomes which include Stun Effectiveness and Body Condition. These outcomes help us identify animal welfare issues concerning physical, mental and behavioural wellbeing. This data will eventually be used to feedback to our farmers to improve animal welfare.


Woolworths has recently completed a study with the University of Sydney of Avian Influenza Risk Mitigation for Free Range sector of the Australian Poultry sector. The study has been shared with a selection of our egg farmers. A series of workshops also disseminated this information.

Implementation of Animal Welfare Policy

Animal Welfare policy is implemented through Woolworths supplier excellence program. Woolworths' specification system verifies the policy is met during the new product development process and an independent audit validates the practice.

Farmed animals for food and non-food

Within our food business, we aim for high animal welfare standards across all farming systems – from breeding to rearing and through to slaughter. In markets where suppliers are working to legal requirements, we aim to work with our supply chain partners to drive improvements in standards up the supply chain. Similarly, within our non-food business, we will only take animal products (e.g. feathers or leather), which are a by-product of the food industry and have an ambition to only take from farms adhering to the same high standards we set our food business.

Pets, live animals and pet accessories

All pet accessories sold in our stores, such as collars or bowls, undergo rigorous testing to ensure that they are safe and comfortable for the animal. Instructions for use are clearly stated on the label.

Species specific sourcing requirements


RSPCA Chicken

All Woolworths Own Brand Fresh Chicken is RSPCA Approved. The RSPCA conduct all the farm assessments. The assessment results are reviewed by the RSPCA and Woolworths Animal Welfare manager. Woolworths has made a commitment that all our chicken as an ingredient will be RSPCA Approved by December 2020. In 2018 we’ve converted 75% of all the Own Brand chicken containing products to RSPCA Approved chicken.

Our Own Brand RSPCA Approved chicken is grown to:

  • 28kg per m2 for natural ventilation systems.
  • 34kg per m2 for mechanical ventilation systems.

We continue to work closely with the RSPCA and have generated a series of educational videos which are used as part of our Animal Welfare training but also used as part of our marketing of the RSPCA Approved products. Read the RSPCA’s blog RSPCA Approved chicken in Woolworths – and what’s it all about?

Free Range Chicken

All Woolworths Free Range chicken meat and eggs are FREPA Approved. All Woolworths Free Range chickens are assessed by Free Range Chicken Producers Australia FREPA. FREPA has conducted 365 on-farm assessments in FY18. The split by state is NSW 11, QLD 74, SA 107, TAS 37, VIC 97, WA 39.  


100% of Woolworths branded eggs are cage free and our goal is to stop sourcing eggs from caged hens by 2025. Our commitment is to stop sourcing shell eggs (vendor branded) and as an ingredient (own brand) from caged hens by 2025. As part of this commitment we’ve shrunk our cage egg volume by 6.7%(YTD) compared to last year. In comparison to last year, we have also increased:

  • barn egg volumes by 6.4% (YTD) 
  • free range egg volumes by 18.9% (YTD)
  • organic egg volumes by 22.9% (YTD)

All our Own Brand fresh pork is independently audited to the Australian Pork Industry Quality (APIQ) standard.

In addition to this we have implemented our Woolworths Pork Blueprint. This end to end program of animal husbandry and animal welfare has banned the use of tail clipping, surgical castration and is investigating cold cauterisation of tails on our Own Brand pork. All our Woolworths brand fresh pork is sourced from farms that only use gestation stalls for less than 10% of the sow’s gestation period.

Beef Cattle

Our beef cattle graze freely until they are gathered and finished on a feedlot. Woolworths only source Cattle from feedlots that are accredited by the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme (NFAS).  The NFAS incorporates a strict animal welfare component, which ensures the cattle in the feedlot are well cared for and monitored on a daily basis. Feed, water and air quality, temperature and heat levels are constantly monitored. If an animal displays any signs of illness, it is treated by a veterinarian.


Only 20% of Woolworths' sheep are sourced from saleyards with 80% sourced straight from farm.  No Woolworths lamb is mulesed.

Dairy cows

Our ‘Farmers Own’ farmers don’t euthanize bull calves on-farm other than for health reasons and grow the calves out to at least five days old before transportation. Tail docking is also banned and we have a foot care and mastitis program in place. Our Farmers Own dairy herd has continual access to pasture.

Farmed Rabbits

Woolworths' policy is not to sell farmed rabbit.

Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare

Woolworths is committed to continually improve Animal Welfare. We worked closely with Compassion in World Farming to improve our internationally recognised Business Benchmark for Animal Welfare (BBFAW) score. In 2018, Woolworths was rated Tier3, the highest rated retailer in Australia.