More information on our UK animal welfare
UK Specific Information
Animal welfare is important to us and to our customers, we are committed to working responsibly in this area and to continue to progress and influence best practice in our supply chain. Welfare of farm animals anywhere worldwide that supply our UK business is managed day to day by our Agriculture Team and Head of Agriculture. Our team is made up of experts who are trained in, and passionate about farm animal welfare, research and veterinary, quality and production systems. We have dedicated agriculture managers for Dairy, Beef, Lamb, Pigs, Aquaculture, Poultry & Eggs, Produce and Research & Development. It is the responsibility of the Agriculture Team to work with farmers and suppliers to oversee animal welfare in the supply chain. This is achieved through a number of ways including farm visits, the Tesco Sustainable Farming Groups, Tesco Supplier Network, Tesco Livestock Requirements, benchmarking, and audit compliance. Through these mechanisms we identify ways in which high standards of animal welfare can be assured in a manner that is achievable for our supply base.
In addition to this we consult and engage with key stakeholders including veterinarians, academics, government representatives, training providers, Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) and RSPCA Assured. We are members of a number of farm animal welfare initiatives including Red Tractor, Global G.A.P Aquaculture, and Responsible use of Medicines in Agriculture. We feel it is important for us to be active members in these forums so that we can positively drive welfare forward in our supply chains and ensure our farmers have the best access to the knowledge discussed.
Tesco Livestock Requirements
Our Livestock Requirements are species specific and broadly cover all aspects of animal rearing including health, welfare, feed, production systems, environment, stocking, transport and slaughter, all-encompassing the Five Freedoms proposed by the Farm Animal Welfare Council. The livestock covered in these requirements include dairy, beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, pigs and aquaculture species. These requirements stipulate that 100% of farms are assured to a recognised farm assurance standard including Red Tractor certification and in addition satisfy our Tesco specific requirements which cover further improvements in animal welfare.
Within all of our species specific requirements we specify the maximum livestock allowed in an area to avoid close confinement. The basis this is defined by the species, production system, welfare monitoring, legislation and evidence based best practice approaches.
In addition to density requirements, we also stipulate that all livestock housing must promote a range of natural behaviours through enrichment techniques or building designs that mimic natural conditions. Stall and/or tether housing is not permitted. Our egg production is from free-range and indoor housed hens, we have committed to stop sourcing eggs from caged hens by 2025. We do not allow tethering or tail docking of cattle, veal crates, battery cages or high stocking numbers in any species including fish.
Within our requirements we actively exclude or are working to reduce the need for routine management procedures such as tail docking. Where procedures are carried out this is done on a veterinary risk assessed basis and to welfare standards exceeding legislative requirements. We are committed to finding alternatives to these procedures and looking at research to explore genetics, nutrition, environmental management and enrichment as preferred alternatives. For example, we are working with suppliers to eliminate the need for beak trimming in commercial layers and supporting our EU pork producers to explore alternative castration management strategies. Beak trimming in commercial meat chickens, dubbing of cockerels, fin clipping of fin fish and mulesing in lambs are not allowed in our requirements.
At Tesco we recognise the importance of antibiotics in both human and animal medicine and the threat from improper use in livestock supply chains. We already 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.
Antibiotics are not used routinely or as growth promotors. Where it is necessary to treat an animal, it must be done under veterinary supervision with the vet deciding which type of antibiotic is appropriate. All antibiotic usage must be recorded in a veterinary health plan, which must be regularly reviewed by both the vet and farmer. We make sure that Critically Important Antibiotics (CIA’s) for Human Health are only ever used as a last resort when other courses of action haven’t worked. This approach is based upon advice from experts using the most up to date science and evidence.
By working with our supplier partners and industry experts, we have defined 8 on-going commitments. These outline our approach to help reduce antibiotic use in UK agriculture:
- We restrict the use of the highest priority “critically important” antibiotics for human health (fluoroquinolones, 3rd and 4th generation cephalosporins and colistin)* in our supply chain and make sure these antibiotics are used only as a treatment of last resort, where no other viable treatment is available to prevent animal welfare issues**. We are working with our suppliers to reduce the use of other critically important antibiotics, including the macrolides.
- We work with our suppliers to make sure there is no unauthorised use of veterinary medicines, including antibiotics, in our supply chain.
- We do not allow the routine use of antibiotics for prophylactic purposes in our supply chain***. Preventative treatment is only allowed where animals are diagnosed at high risk of bacterial disease, and must only occur under prescription by a veterinarian on the basis of epidemiological and clinical knowledge.
- We measure antibiotic use in our supply chain. We have made antibiotic usage and records a key feature of our farm audit programme. Visibility of records of any antibiotic usage at Tesco supplying farms is required to enable us to monitor levels of use and to help target reduction strategies.
- We will implement the UK species specific targets for antibiotic reduction (as defined by RUMA and the VMD) in our supply chain. From 2018, once we have sufficient data to establish a baseline, we will make sure that each of our animal sector supply chains have targeted reduction strategies in place to make sure they meet the specific national target for that species.
- We will help build farmers capability on antibiotic use and animal health in our supply chain, to help them to reduce use without compromising animal welfare. We will work with our Product Partners, wider suppliers and other bodies to identify the right educational approaches and the best ways to share this knowledge among farmers.
- We will support Research and Development (R&D) opportunities that will help drive the reduction of on farm antibiotic use. With our Product Partners we are already working with the Government Agritech Centres of Innovation to identify R&D opportunities.
- Progress against our commitments will be published.
* As defined by the European Medicines Agency. For these antibiotics to be used there must be a clear veterinary diagnosis and records to demonstrate that all other treatment options have been exhausted.
**By welfare issues we mean the prevention of animals from suffering.
*** This is implemented in line with the RUMA definition.
Within our Livestock Requirements we specify that all livestock journey times must be kept to a minimum and not exceed eight hours, we verify this at audit and have complete compliance.
Working with skilled animal handlers
All personnel involved in live animal handling in the slaughter process are trained to a recognised animal welfare standard for example, the Bristol Animal Welfare Training. We have also delivered bespoke training in response to sector-specific needs including providing fish and shrimp welfare training for Asian aquaculture farmers in 2015 and welfare measure and audit compliance training for beef, sheep, eggs and aquaculture supply chains in 2016. We hold regular dairy welfare workshops as part of our Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group.
Farm animals anywhere worldwide that supply our UK own label products come from animals that have been subjected to stunning 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, researchers and academics to ensure the procedure is achieved 100% of the time, is humane and uses the best available recognised techniques. For farmed fish we commit to achieving best practice humane harvesting in all species by 2018. More information on our slaughter policy can be found here.
Welfare outcomes performance reporting
To help us identify animal welfare issues concerning physical, mental and behavioural wellbeing in our supply chain, we have introduced welfare outcome measures which measure the symptoms of positive and negative welfare approaches in farm, transport and slaughter practices. We gather data on a monthly basis, which is then anonymised and shared with our farmers so that they can utilise the data as a benchmarking exercise to identify best practice. We also look to identify opportunities in the trends to drive improvement in animal welfare. We share this information on visits, at Sustainable Farming Group meetings and during workshops. Typically the welfare outcomes cover:
- Productivity rates
- Livestock behaviour and vocalisation in transport and at the abattoir
- Effectiveness of stun process
- Physical body condition and movement analysis
Tesco is committed to the implementation of CCTV coverage of livestock handling, stun and slaughter throughout the global supply chain to Tesco. Currently this is evident in 100% of UK sites, over 90% of sites supplying UK business, and we are working to achieve 100% across global sites. Regular, documented review is a core component of the CCTV policy and review of historic images is used in the welfare audit.
Compound feed must be sourced from approved mills which includes mills that have UFAS standard (or a scheme of bench-marked equivalence such as Global G.A.P for fish feed)
There are further species specific details but the overarching policy is:
- No inclusion of land animal fats
- No use of processed animal protein or land animal proteins
- No closed loop feeding
Farmers take great care in choosing the right diets for their animals to thrive and no animal is force fed. Exceptional occasions may occur where a farmer needs to nurse an individual which may lead to assisted feeding.
Compliance with Livestock Requirements
We recognise that Livestock Requirements and associated policy and procedure are only of value where compliance can be effectively and consistently demonstrated, irrespective of species, sector or geographical location, which is why we audit our supply chains. The global supply base is inspected by Integra Food Secure Ltd, an independent, ISO 17020 accredited, inspection body. Integra are a small, welfare-focused team working with Tesco to drive improvements through the supply chain.
Typically, over 1000 inspections are conducted on behalf of Tesco annually and this is a pre-requisite of being an approved protein supplier. In 2016, Integra undertook 1124 welfare based audits and 52 feed mill audits on behalf of Tesco.
As a minimum all slaughter sites and poultry hatcheries are inspected annually. The majority of EU abattoirs are inspected on an unannounced basis and other parts of each supply chain are short-term announced. In this way we ensure compliance and good practice and also emerging trends or concerns can be identified and addressed quickly.
Integra similarly works with the relevant Tesco Agriculture Manager to manage the process of ensuring that any challenges are addressed to prevent any re-occurrence within an individual supplier's supply base as a whole. Challenges are reviewed on an ongoing basis and help inform our research and business agenda. Where expectations are not met, sites are stopped from supply.
Chicken and turkey
All of our poultry, including our Willow Farms poultry, are reared to recognised farm assurance standards. We work with our global supply base to gather welfare outcome measurement data that ensures the welfare of the poultry in our supply chain is upheld and indeed enhanced. We work with our farmers and suppliers to continually drive improvement across the supply chain. Our dedicated farmers, check every flock of birds at least twice a day, and their environment is constantly monitored to ensure their health, wellbeing and high animal welfare. Stocking densities are in line with British Red Tractor Standards and our dedicated Agricultural Manager for Poultry and Eggs represents the British Retail Consortium and Tesco on all issues relevant to these sectors on the Red Tractor Poultry Board.
Our British fresh chicken are all compliant with the British Poultry Council Antibiotics Stewardship Scheme. Our fresh chickens are reared in houses with windows that allow natural daylight and encourage expression of natural behaviours through providing perching bales, additional perching and pecking objects. All our fresh chicken is British, chickens sourced from outside the UK for our frozen or convenience ranges are reared to the same high standards as our British chicken, and must meet the rigorous Tesco Livestock Code of Practice (LCOP) for Poultry. Each Tesco chicken can be traced back to the farm it was reared on, this gives our consumer complete peace of mind in terms of traceability.
Our Finest* Free Range chickens are free to roam outdoors from dawn till dusk in grass leys where they can explore, forage for insects, dust bathe and carry out their natural behaviour. At night they sleep indoors, safe from the elements and predators with environmental enrichment such as bales, perching and herbal leys and crops. Our finest* chicken are a slower growing Hubbard breed that are free range and corn fed.
Organic chickens are fed a certified organic diet and are a slower growing Hubbard breed, they are free to roam outside during daylight hours. Our Organic farms are certified by organic farm accreditation bodies, including Soil Association, Organic Farmers and Growers or Organic Food Federation.
All our fresh core brand turkey are reared in the UK and Ireland in houses with environmental enrichment that encourages expression of natural behaviours through providing straw bales, perching and pecking objects. Each Tesco turkey can be traced back to the farm it was reared on.
Our fresh finest* Free Range Bronze turkeys are free to roam from dawn till dusk on ranges that are enriched with trees, hedges and shelters, or indoors where we have bales and pecking objects which are great for engaging their naturally curious nature. At Christmas time we sell organic turkeys, which come from farms that are audited by an organic farm accreditation bodies, including Soil Association or Organic Farmers and Growers. They are fed a certified organic diet and are a slower growing breed.
All of our eggs, are produced to recognised farm assurance standards. We work with our global supply base to gather welfare outcome measurement data that ensures the welfare of the poultry in our supply chain is upheld and indeed enhanced. We work with our farmers and suppliers to continually drive improvement across the supply chain. Our dedicated farmers check every flock of birds at least twice a day, and their environment is constantly monitored to ensure their health, wellbeing and high animal welfare. Stocking densities are in line with legislative requirements. Our dedicated Agricultural Manager for Poultry and Eggs represents the industry and is involved in the Laying Hen Welfare Forum and the Beak Trimming Action Group in order to work with the industry to further understand the welfare issues around egg laying hens.
Our Everyday Value eggs are laid by hens in an enriched colony systems which meets British Lion welfare standards and our Tesco Livestock Code of Practice which is independently audited. This includes strict measures on traceability, welfare, feed, temperature and hygiene. We have committed to stop sourcing eggs from these systems by 2025. In 2016 43% of the 1.4 billion eggs we sell came from enriched colony environments; we have decreased this to 38% and in 2016 57% of eggs sold in the UK come from Free Range or Organic methods which we have increased to 62%. Working with supplier partners, we will transition to 100% cage-free eggs in our Everyday Value offer, moving to alternative production methods, such as barn, free range and organic by 2025.
Our free range egg range hens are free to roam from dawn till dusk in grass leys where they can explore, forage for insects, dust bathe and carry out their natural behaviour. At night they sleep indoors, safe from the elements and predators with environmental enrichment such as bales, perching and cover crops.
Our organic eggs come from free range hens which are free to roam on organic pastures and are fed on an organically produced diet. These farms must meet high welfare requirements set by the British Egg Industry Council, these standards are checked annually by an independent organic certification body. Our Organic farms are certified by organic farm accreditation bodies, including Soil Association, Organic Farmers and Growers or Organic Food Federation.
Each of our dairy cows produce around 8,000 litres of milk a year so it’s important to Tesco and our supply chain partners’ right through to the farm that they are as healthy and their wellbeing is a priority. All of our dairy products produced in the UK will be from welfare assured farms that have met the requirements of the Red Tractor Assurance Scheme setting high standards for care and cleanliness. Tethering and tail docking is not permitted on farms that supply us.
Our fresh milk is produced from cows on farms that are part of our Tesco Sustainable Dairy Group (TSDG) that are part of our Fair for Farmers Guarantee. Nearly 730 farms are needed to produce the fresh milk for our Tesco stores; with the herd size varying from small 60 cow herds to larger herds across the country and each farm manages their production system to suit the geography and climate from South East England to Wales and Scotland. All our TSDG dairy farms in addition to the Red Tractor assurance have a number of Tesco Livestock Requirements to meet. We have clear welfare measures for cow body condition, antibiotic usage, calving success, record keeping and more. We set targets for improvement each year, and monitor important areas such as lameness, cleanliness and cow health in each farm. This allows TSDG farmers to benchmark their performance with the rest of the group and allows us to target any help and resources to the areas where farmers need it most. To make sure our suppliers are always striving to meet our requirements our TSDG farms are visited every year by an independent auditor.
Since 2008 we have worked with Liverpool University basing the Tesco Dairy Centre of Excellence at Wood Park, Neston. Our TSDG farmers and the wider industry have benefitted from trials on bedding, mobility, fertility and other research and knowledge transfer work promoting best practice. TSDG welfare measure reporting helps us focus the work at Liverpool to suit farmers’ needs.
Calves produced on TSDG dairy farms are not allowed to be live exported, except for breeding purposes. We discourage the use of antibiotics to prevent disease and since 2008 we have been encouraging our TSDG to minimise the use of antibiotics important for human health in cows and calves. Current areas of focus for us include work to drive out Johnes from our TSDG herd, promoting high standards in biosecurity with our satellite best practice dairy unit at South West England agricultural college and the introduction of a scorecard to measure both efficiency and health and wellbeing of our Tesco TSDG units. We are working with vets to strengthen how we can support them in a preventative medicine approach and to reduce further the antibiotic use on TSDG farms.
Our British hard cheese is now to be produced by our Tesco Cheese Group consisting of farmers from South West England to Wales who receive a premium over the market to work with Tesco on health and welfare of their herds. These farms monitor disease and similar to TSDG farms can measure their progress against targets for mobility, cleanliness and health measures.
Our Tesco organic dairy producers are measured by organic standards set out and audited by the Soil Association or Organic Farmers and Growers. Standards include requirements for free grazing and restricted levels of antimicrobial treatments.
Tesco finest* milk comes from Scotland and is produced by Channel Island cows.
All the beef we source including Boswell Farms, core brand and finest is from farm quality assured farms, Red Tractor or regional equivalent, throughout the United Kingdom and Ireland. There are a variety of beef production systems in the UK and Ireland and this is reflected in the cattle that we source. Our farmers use a documented herd health plan to ensure cattle are healthy throughout their life and will produce wholesome quality beef. All of our cattle are free from tail docking.
All our finest* Aberdeen Angus cattle are part of the Tesco Aberdeen Angus scheme and must have a genuine Aberdeen Angus sire that is registered and authenticated by the Aberdeen Angus Society. From August 2016 all of our Aberdeen Angus will be sourced from farmers who have a Tesco contract. This contract is a first for the beef industry incentivising our Aberdeen Angus beef farmers to produce beef based on quality parameters and specifications which deliver consistent quality for our customers. Aberdeen Angus beef is renowned for its superb flavour, taste and succulence due to its internal marbling.
All our farmers in the UK and New Zealand produce some of the best quality lamb in the world by using progressive farming methods and the highest standards of welfare.
Our finest* lamb is slower grown and we follow the seasons to ensure our lamb is best in season for succulence and flavour.
Our organic lamb farms are independently audited by one of the organic certification bodies including Soil Association. These lambs are fed an organic diet and have access to organic pastures.
We work with both our UK and New Zealand supply base to gather welfare outcome measurement data that ensures the welfare of the lambs in our supply chain is upheld. We gather data and targets are set on key welfare indicators, such as lameness, fleece damage, cleanliness and effective stunning of lambs at slaughter. We do not allow the use of antibiotics to prevent disease, swim washes or mulesings practices.
All of our pigs, including our Woodside Farms pigs, are reared to recognised farm assurance standards. We work with our global supply base to gather welfare outcome measurement data that ensures the welfare of the pigs in our supply chain is upheld. Data gathered includes mobility, body condition and behaviour. We do not source direct from livestock markets. All of our pig farms have four independent vet visits per year which encourages our farmers to work with their veterinary surgeon to ensure that the welfare of the pig is constantly monitored. We do not allow sows to be kept in stalls. Tail docking and teeth clipping must not be carried out routinely. The necessity of these practices must be regularly risk assessed, reviewed and reported in the quarterly veterinary report visit.
Our finest* pork comes from dedicated outdoor reared and outdoor bred farms which are RSPCA assured. The sows are kept in free-range paddocks and are given plenty of room to root and explore their surroundings.
Our Parma pigs come from farms in the Parma region of Italy. All of these pigs are free from tail docking and teeth clipping.
As with other livestock, our suppliers of farmed fish implement equally high standards of animal welfare. These welfare standards apply to our global supply chains for the UK market and are in compliance with the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Code and farm assurance standard in addition to Tesco Requirements. Our requirements for aquaculture comply with the same principles as the other Tesco Livestock Requirements and in addition include:
- Species specific welfare standards so that species variations are accounted for
- Water quality monitoring for optimal growth and as an aid during handling to minimise stress
- Stocking numbers are limited so that fish have freedom to express normal behaviour and do not experience close confinement. Welfare outcomes are closely monitored in order to review the appropriateness of the stocking
- Fallowing and biosecurity
- During livestock transport constant monitoring of water quality and behavioural parameters, with corrective procedures in place
- Pre-slaughter stunning is a requirement; we monitor the efficacy of this through welfare reporting. This is an area that we consult with leading specialists including academics and NGOs to ensure we are always striving for the best humane approach available to optimise fish welfare at harvest. Other welfare measures include fish behaviour, water quality, antibiotic use and effectiveness of pre-slaughter stunning
- Required farm assurance standards include Global G.A.P and Aquaculture Stewardship Council. Our Aquaculture Manager is the current Chair of the Global G.A.P technical committee for aquaculture.
Our core brand salmon, rainbow trout, sea bass, sea bream, basa (also known as river cobbler or pangasius) and tilapia are all sourced from farms that maintain a high level of welfare irrespective of the different production systems used, which include; sea pens in deep Atlantic waters and Mediterranean coastal waters, ponds in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and freshwater pens in Scottish Lochs. Every farmer operates with the utmost care for the fish in order to optimise fish welfare, quality and freshness.
Our finest* salmon is reared in Scottish waters off the coast of West Scotland, Shetland and Orkney and in addition to meeting our welfare standards, are certified to Global G.A.P and RSPCA Assured standard.
Our organic salmon is reared to Naturland, Debio or Soil Association organic standards and salmon are reared at low stocking numbers and fed an organic diet.
We believe innovation and research and development are an integral part of ensuring that our supply chains are efficient, safe, responsible and sustainable. The key focus of Tesco research and development in agriculture is to ensure there is direct positive impact on a farm level including in animal health and welfare. Our approach to enable innovation includes creating the right environment through strong relationships, our Tesco Sustainable farming Groups, Government Innovation Centres, Tesco Future Farmer Foundation, Tesco Centres of Excellence, Tesco Supplier Network and the Tesco Producer Club.
Government Innovation Centres
We are supporters of UK Government initiatives to bring together the food industry and academic researchers to transform the productivity of the UK livestock industry. We were the first retail member of the Centre of Innovation Excellence in Livestock (CIEL), a newly created £70 million research hub opened in 2016 and we are actively working to develop CIEL through our participation on the Interim Management Board. We are also members of the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC). Based in Sterling, SAIC encourages collaboration on industry issues such as fish health and sustainable feed. Our Aquaculture Manager spoke at the SAIC conference 2015 on the topic of the opportunities for careers in aquaculture. We also have representation through Integra on the BBSRC Animal Welfare Research Network.
Tesco Centres of Excellence
We have a centre of excellence for dairy and for pigs which were set up to promote knowledge transfer and best practice amongst farmers. A key focus of the centres is to demonstrate high welfare standards and deliver training to ensure that it is transferred onto farm. Recent examples of project focus at our Centres of Excellence include cow comfort, calf health, pig housing and pig nutrition.
Tesco Future Farmer Foundation
Our Future Farmer Foundation supports young people in agriculture to develop business, personal and supply chain skills necessary to manage successful and sustainable farming businesses. Part of the programme offers the funded opportunity for Future Farmers to apply for an international scholarship award. Two of our 2015/16 Future Farmers, both from the poultry sector, have identified important animal welfare issues which they are exploring. One is looking at strategies to optimise behaviour in free range laying hens and the other is exploring water balance in rearing houses and impacts on bird health. Once the research projects are complete, findings will be shared with the supply chain to support improvement in animal welfare and exchange best practice.
FG Roberts, E Fardy and AJ Lucas (2017) Practical challenges to the implementation of controlled atmosphere stunning: A case study in an Italian pig supply chain. UFAW
Roberts, F.G, Kirkpatrick, J and Crown, G (2017) Antibiotic use: balancing consumer concerns and animal welfare Abstract submitted to 7th International Conference on the Assessment of Animal Welfare at Farm and Group Level (WAFL)
Roberts F.G (2016) Antibiotic concerns prompt a different approach in: Pig Progress (Online) http://www.pigprogress.net/Health/Articles/2016/10/Antibiotic-concerns-prompt-a-different-approach-2898076W/?intcmp=related-content
Maddocks, C, Roberts F.G and Lucas A.J (2016) Training to embed understanding of Welfare and drive management improvement in the Asian Tropical Prawn supply base of a major UK retailer. European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP)
Fardy, E, Maddocks, C and Roberts F.G (2016) Knowledge transfer within a retail supply chain: The Tesco Supplier Network. European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP)
Celebrating success in our supply chain
In 2017, we received a Best Retailer Innovation award from Compassion in World Farming for leading the way in farmed fish welfare. The award recognised our work to improve the welfare of our farmed fish species, and specifically the introduction of a humane slaughter system for sea bass and sea bream into commercial practice.