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Our Planet

Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare is very important to Woolworths, our suppliers and to our customers. We are committed to working with our Australian farmers and suppliers to focus attention on good animal welfare. Our Woolworths Animal Welfare Policy sets out our minimum sourcing requirements and expectations. 

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 standards with Compassion in World Farming and we are working towards a Tier 1 Score on the Business Benchmark for Animal Welfare.

We are committed to working responsibly in this area and 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

No freedom is enough in isolation and as such we must provide our animals with the 5 freedoms so our farm animals can live better 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. 

Which is why Woolworths recognises the five domains and is working with our suppliers to incorporate the five domains:

The Five Animal Welfare Domains1

Domains
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 and promote thermal, physical and other comforts
Good health: Prevent or rapidly diagnose and treat disease and injury, and foster good muscle tone, posture and cardiorespiratory function 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

1Mellor 2016

Woolworths Animal Welfare Standards

We are committed to working responsibly with the animals in our care, and continue to drive and influence best practice within our supply chain. Woolworths' animal welfare standards cover all aspects of animal rearing, health, welfare, feed, production systems, environment, stocking, transport and slaughter which all centre around the Five Freedoms. 

Our Animal Welfare policy and standards are implemented through the Woolworths Supplier Excellence program covering own brand products with animal welfare progress reported annually as part of the Woolworths Sustainability Report. These measures are reported back through Woolworths supplier excellence program to the Animal Welfare Manager, Quality and Sustainability team including any non-compliances for the team to investigate and resolve.  In addition, all our abattoirs are independently audited by a third party Ausmeat.

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 Tier 3, the highest rated retailer in Australia and we have an aspiration to make Tier 1.

Woolworths RSPCA Chicken

Woolworths Own Brand Fresh Chicken is RSPCA Approved. The RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme focuses on improving farm animal welfare and production standards. As part of the scheme the RSPCA conduct independent assessments on all farms and sheds.  The assessment results are reviewed by the RSPCA and Woolworths Animal Welfare manager. In the last 12 months over 3,027 on farm RSPCA assessments have taken place for Woolworths chickens. 

Our Own Brand RSPCA Approved chicken is grown to:

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

 

Woolworths has made a commitment that all our ingredient chicken within Woolworths products will be RSPCA Approved by December 2020.  So far we have converted 95% of all the Own Brand chicken containing products to RSPCA Approved chicken. All our products which contain RSPCA chicken carry the RSPCA logo making it clear for our customers.

“The RSPCA has been proud to work with Woolworths and their suppliers to ensure all their own brand fresh chicken is raised to RSPCA Approved standards since 2014. Woolworths has since further committed to only source RSPCA Approved chicken, for their own brand products where chicken is used as an ingredient by December 2020. This demonstrates the company’s recognition that improving animal welfare applies to products across their ranges, and not just the fresh produce category. RSPCA Australia looks forward to continuing our work with Woolworths, to improve the welfare of farm animals across their supply chains.” RSPCA Australia

 

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?

RSPCA Approved Good Food Series - Setting the standards 

RSPCA Approved Good Food Series - Raising the standards 

RSPCA Approved Good Food Series - Embracing the standards

 

Woolworths Free Range Poultry 

All Woolworths Free Range chicken and turkey is FREPA Approved. FREPA has conducted 339 on-farm assessments in the last year. The split by state is  SA (32%) VIC (23%) and QLD (20%), while 11% came from WA and TAS, with 3% from NSW which was turkey. All our Free range certified products contain the FREPA logo making it clear for our customers.

“All free range chicken and turkey sold at Woolworths is accredited by Free Range Egg and Poultry Australia (FREPA).  Routine auditing is performed by qualified independent auditors to ensure farms and processing facilities meet the required FREPA Standards, which are based on best practice and animal welfare for commercial free range farming.” FREPA Australia

 

Woolworths Eggs

In 2015 we stopped selling caged eggs under the Woolworths brand.  This means 100% of Woolworths branded whole eggs are cage-free; laid by hens free from close confinement.  We are continuing our work towards using only cage free eggs as an ingredient in Own Brand products by 2025.  We are also committed to be cage free by 2025 in relation to all supplier branded eggs and in the year to date we have seen a 6.7% decline in caged egg sales. 

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 Woolworths own brand eggs must be produced to ESA (Egg Standards Australia) Level 3 for farm and grading floors.

We are proud to report that we have been awarded the Compassion In World Farming (CIWF) Good Egg Award in 2019 for our commitment to ending the sale of caged eggs and caged egg products in our stores.

 

Woolworths Beef, Lamb and Pork

All our beef, lamb and pork is sourced by our dedicated Woolworths expert Livestock Team. Our livestock team are based regionally across Australia and between them, have over 250 years of experience, spending most of their time out on farm with our producers. Many of our farmers have supplied Woolworths for many generations and are focused on good animal welfare as well as providing a constant quality product. 

All our processing plants for beef, lamb and pork are independently certified annually by Australian Livestock Processing Industry Animal Welfare Certification System (AAWCS).

Beef

Our Woolworths fresh beef is sourced directly from farm by one of our experienced Livestock team and 100% Australian. Any Cattle from our feedlots are accredited by the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme (NFAS) as well as meeting our own Woolworths standard.  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.

We are an active member of the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework Consultative Committee.  The framework defines sustainable beef production and Animal Welfare is one of their six key priorities. Australian Beef Sustainability Framework

Pork

All our Woolworths fresh pork is independently audited to the Australian Pork Industry Quality (APIQ) standard, is sow stall free and 100% Australian. 

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.

Lamb

Our Woolworths fresh lamb is 100% Australian. Only 20% of Woolworths lambs are sourced from saleyards with 80% sourced straight from farm.  No Woolworths lamb is mulesed.

Dairy Cows 

Our ‘Farmers Own’ milk comes from farms regionally across Australia. They 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.

For more information on our Woolworths Drought relief milk please visit Woolworths Drought Relief Milk  

Seafood

For more information on our Woolworths Seafood and our seafood sourcing policy please visit Woolworths Sustainable Seafood 

Woolworths Supermarket Sustainability

To find out more about Woolworths Supermarket Sustainability visit Woolworths  

Welfare Outcomes Measures

Suppliers must record Welfare Outcome Measures (WOM) and must supply data when required.  Our WOM programme is currently being implemented across our supply base. Currently in poultry 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 is used to ensure continual improvement on our farms. 

Animal Welfare Management

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

Commitments, Target Setting and Innovation

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.

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.

Woolworths are an active member of the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework Consultative Committee.  The framework defines sustainable beef production and Animal Welfare is one of their six key priorities which launched in 2017.

To ensure we are continually improving we work with our suppliers, industry and research institutions in research and development in Animal Welfare within our supply chains.  Including focusing on areas such as new production methods and technologies.

Agricultural Scholarships and Shows

Woolworths has long-standing sponsorships with the major agricultural shows in Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne. These events bring the country to the city, and through competitions and events celebrate the best of Australian agriculture and provide an insight into where our Woolworth food comes from. To find out more about our involvement with Agricultural Shows and Scholarships across Australia please visit https://www.woolworths.com.au/shop/discover/community/agricultural-scholarships-and-shows

Animal Welfare Training

All people involved in handling animals must be appropriately trained including Woolworths staff.  Our suppliers and farmers must be trained to industry requirements and any independent standards which applicable.  Our Woolworths livestock procurement team are all highly experienced in livestock production.

Woolworths has trained the livestock purchasing team 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.

Woolworths Antimicrobial Stewardship Policy 

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.

Australia has one of the lowest antimicrobial usages in livestock in the world, however it is still very important to ensure responsible stewardship is maintained. 

We support and encourage industry best practice, guidelines and initiatives around responsible antimicrobial stewardship within our supply chains. We expect and encourage our suppliers to use antibiotics responsibly. We are working with our supply base to remove any 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins.  Each farm must have their own herd health plan and a vet must provide guidance or oversee all medical treatments.

Woolworths works with in collaboration with industry to ensure a collaborative approach to  Antimicrobial Stewardship. The program is using the 5 R’s approach of Responsibility, Reduction, Refinement, Replacement and Review to take a judicious approach to Antibiotic usage.
All antibiotics used within the livestock sectors in Australia have to be approved by the APVMA.  Each sector has their own Antimicrobial Stewardship programme which Woolworths support. Animal Health Australia

Woolworths 5 R’s Approach 
Responsibility 

We support and encourage industry best practice, guidelines and initiatives around responsible antimicrobial stewardship within our supply chains. We expect and encourage our suppliers to use antibiotics responsibly. We encourage farms to have antimicrobial stewardship and herd health plans in place.

Reduce

Woolworths seeks to reduce where possible the use of medically important antibiotics and in particular for routine and prophylactic use.

Refine

Woolworths is working with our suppliers and industry that policies and practices are in place ensuring that when our livestock animals do require treatment, the correct drug and dosing regime is correctly given to the animals requiring treatment only. 

Replace

Woolworths work with and support industry to reduce the overall need to use antibiotics. We work with our suppliers to reduce the need for antibiotics through improved animal welfare and looking at alternatives to replace antibiotics such as vaccines, supplements and probiotics.

Review

Woolworths ensure that there is continuous review and assessment of practices.

Genetically Modified

We do not allow the use of GM food or 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. Animals used to produce organic range of meat, eggs and milk must be reared on non-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: No livestock is allowed to be genetically modified or cloned. This includes dairy, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, pigs and aquaculture.
  2. Growth Hormones: Our Own Brand dairy, lamb, poultry, eggs, pigs and aquaculture species are reared without added hormones. We work with the beef industry to national standards.

Husbandry Practices

Woolworths does not allow mutilations carried out for routine husbandry procedures but recognise that some need to be carried out for welfare purposes and on veterinary advice. These mutilations should be avoided where possible, the use of the most humane technique by a trained and competent individual, and that appropriate analgesia must be 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

Transportation times must be minimised at all times.  The welfare of the animals must never be compromised. Woolworths encourages livestock transporters to have independent transport schemes in place such as TruckSafe and must adhere to the National Transport Guidelines.

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.

Closed Circuit Television (CCTV)

All Woolworths abattoirs must have CCTV in place for key animal handling processing areas. . 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 livestock we sell must have been humanely slaughtered and all animals must be pre-slaughter stunned. Suppliers must record the pre-slaughter stunning process and efficacy of the system. 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.

Farmed Rabbit

Woolworths policy is not to sell farmed rabbit

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

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