What are the Red Tractor Welfare Standards?

Founded in 2000, Red Tractor Assurance Scheme is a UK-based food and farming scheme, designed to certify the conformance of a number of integrated standards for products entering the food supply chain. Any food or vegetable item which bears the Red Tractor Certified Standards logo is determined to have met the stringent standards governing production, transportation, storage and packaging.

The Red Tractor Standards cover the entire food supply chain and are based on scientific research, animal welfare, food safety and sustainability legislation, along with evidence and best practice. Around 50,000 UK farms currently operate to the Red Tractor Standards.

The standards themselves are agreed by a panel of experts and enforced by a nationwide team of inspectors – those farms that fail to meet the standards required are dropped from the scheme. A total of 3,000 farms lost their right to add the Red Tractor Assured logo to their produce in 2020 after falling below the required levels. 

Whether your farm is one of those missing the mark, you’re keen to join the scheme or wish to maintain your membership, Livetec’s biosecurity services can help your farm remain compliant with the high standards of welfare and biosecurity required by Red Tractor.

Specific standards have been created for:

  • Poultry
  • Beef and lamb
  • Dairy
  • Fruit and Vegetables
  • Pork
  • Combinable Crops

Why do the Red Tractor Welfare Standards matter?

Red Tractor Standards set the benchmark for farmers around the UK. They hold the food supply chain to specific levels of sustainability, safety, and animal welfare from the farm to the retail store and ultimately, the family table. They are used by supermarkets, brands as well as the hospitality sector in buying and sourcing specifications, placing farms certified by Red Tractor, at an advantage.

A key component of Red Tractor Standards is traceability, which is crucial for maintaining high standards of biosecurity. All cows housed on Red Tractor Assured farms must have their own passport for example, to ensure they can be tracked. The same is true for poultry farmers, with Red Tractor standards requiring that every bird can be traced from parent to hatchery to egg. 

Red Tractor Standards also prioritise animal health, including regular vet visitors, to assure livestock well being. This is of course a core component of strong biosecurity and can help farmers to mitigate against the spread of disease. Having a robust biosecurity strategy in place is intrinsic to meeting Red Tractor standards. Livetec can help you to achieve this with our bespoke biosecurity services.

Poultry Standards

There are three distinct standards within the Red Tractor poultry range:

Certified Standards: All poultry meeting the Certified Standards requirements must live in space that is at least 10% greater than that stipulated by EU legislation, have access to enrichment, and enjoy high standards of hygiene, welfare and safety. This standard will soon also require the presence of natural light.

Enhanced Welfare Standards: In addition to the requirements of the Certified Standards, Enhanced Welfare for slower growing breeds of poultry requires birds to have guaranteed natural light and 29% more space than the EU minimum.

They also must meet the Better Chicken criteria, which requires compliance with all EU animal welfare laws and maximum stock density levels among other considerations. Enhanced Welfare poultry must also have improved environmental standards including at least two metres of perch space and no cages.

Free Range Standards: In addition to meeting high safety, welfare and environmental standards, Free Range standards require more space for birds to express their natural behaviours.

Some of the specific requirements for achieving these standards include:

  • Adherence to strict biosecurity policies including the disinfection of all vehicles accessing and leaving the farm site, limiting of farm access to essential visitors only, farm-dedicated PPE and disinfection at the entrance to all poultry houses.
  • Proactive management of bird health and welfare including the provision of all recommended vaccinations to assure a healthy bird.
  • Safe, comfortable, hygienic and sufficiently sized housing.
  • Provision of a healthy diet with access to fresh, clean drinking water and clean, palatable and traceable feed.

Pork Standards

Red Tractor’s Pork standards are based around high levels of animal welfare and food safety and are applicable to both indoor and outdoor reared pigs. The include:

  • Proactive animal health and safety management, including four vet visits per year along with a Veterinary Health Plan.
  • Permanent access to environmental enrichment such as suspended chew toys.
  • Sufficient housing in appropriate, stable social groups with minimal mixing after weaning.
  • Safe, comfortable, and hygienic housing with light, ventilation and dry lying area.
  •  Outdoor reared pigs must have access to suitable shelter and bedding.
  • A full and healthy diet suitable for the production status and body condition of each animal.
  • A farmer check once per day to verify pigs are maintaining a healthy shape and weight.
  • Farms must also have suitable systems in place to allow for high levels of environmental care, including appropriate management of agrochemicals and fertilisers.

Beef and Lamb Standards

As with pig and poultry standards, Beef and Lamb Standards are built around animal welfare, health and safety. Requirements include:

  • A farm biosecurity policy must be in place for all Red Tractor certified beef and lamb farms to protect animal health, food safety and prevent the spread of disease.
  • Safe, comfortable, hygienic housing of an appropriate size.
  • All cattle must have a UK passport and have two tags within 20 days of birth.
  • The farm must have a Livestock Health Plan which is reviewed by a vet once per year.
  • A full, healthy diet with feed that is palatable, clean and traceable.

Dairy Standards

As with the other standards, Red Tractor Assured dairy standards seek to prioritise animal welfare. Requirements include:

  • Certified dairy farmers must have a farm biosecurity plan to prevent the spread of disease and protect livestock health.
  • A full, healthy diet.
  • Daily milking.
  • Safe, comfortable, and hygienic housing of an appropriate size.
  • A UK passport and two tags, with calves to receive their tags within 36 hours of birth.
  • Proactive management of livestock health and welfare, with a Livestock Health Plan and annual review performed by a veterinarian.

How Livetec can help you meet Red Tractor Assurance Standards 

Livetec can help you remain Red Tractor compliant while prioritising the highest standards of biosecurity and welfare. Our contingency plans incorporate a number of the aspects required to be Red Tractor certified, while our simple to use, hand-held depletion device, the NEX®, is fully Red Tractor compliant. 

Our solutions have been designed to support British farmers in future proofing and protecting their business with biosecurity solutions, support, and guidance that is industry-leading. Livetec’s services are delivered by industry experts, backed by years of academic and scientific research.

Click here to contact the Livetec team today.