AN INDUSTRY-WIDE commitment to improving animal welfare is at the fore of Red Tractor’s revised farm standards to be implemented this November.

Following a consultation with the industry at the start of the year – which included over 3000 pieces of feedback – a number of new standards have been published, as well as a number of revisions and removals, with full details to be rolled out to Red Tractor’s 46,000 members this August.

Some of the changes include a requirement that all farms with workers must have a written Health and Safety policy; beef and lamb producers must implement a health plan to be reviewed annually by a nominated vet, with documentation within it of the action being taken to eradicate BVD; tethered housing systems for stock of any age will not be permitted on Red Tractor farms; and that dairy farmers must have a written breeding and management policy in place to eliminate the euthanasia of dairy calves by 2023.

Some of the specific changes for pig farmers include all units putting in measures to minimise the risk of tail biting, to avoid the need for tail docking, and anyone involved with the care of pigs must complete online pig welfare training in key areas to ensure pigs are always treated compassionately.

Poultry farmers should note a number of changes for hatchery eggs to align with turkeys and ducks, including fumigating and sanitising eggs prior to setting, temperature and humidity-controlled storage rooms and records of checks, improved egg traceability and transport of eggs and chicks. Turnaround time between flocks on farm must now be no less than five calendar days to ensure time to clean and disinfect houses before new flocks arrive.


Commenting on these new Red Tractor rules, NFU Scotland vice president Andrew Connon said: “Like other stakeholders feeding into the consultation, we had huge concerns that many of the new standards created a requirement for records and bureaucracy rather than looking at outcomes or delivery of the principles and we challenged these robustly when we submitted our response.

“We also voiced concern that the scheme does not always distinguish between sector standards and legal requirements. The duplication of legal minimums is unnecessary and has potential to cause confusion or accidental non-compliance with regulation,” he continued. “It is encouraging to see this has been considered by Red Tractor.

“It is important at this time we also stress to Red Tractor that issues around audit implementation, farm assessor consistency, and compassion towards farmer wellbeing are held equally as important as the new standards coming our way.

“There needs to be an emphasis on this going forward to ensure the integrity of the scheme and strengthen the relationship between Red Tractor and the primary producer.”

The union’s milk committee chair, Gary Mitchell, urged dairy farmers to pay close attention to the new dairy standards: “The current supply chain dictates that without Red Tractor approval a primary producer will find it extremely difficult to have a buyer for their milk and so understanding these new standards are vital.

“Consulted on last year, with implementation in November 2021, is the important new standard where you must have a written breeding and management policy in place and implemented so there is no routine euthanasia of calves on farm. This standard is in line with the direction that many milk buyers have already taken and encompasses the industry’s commitment to eliminate the routine euthanasia of calves by 2023.”