Animal Welfare

Animal welfare is regarded as a very important part of our business and as such we have a dedicated Agriculture & Welfare Supply Team, who report directly into a Board Director. The board fully support the team in ensuring that our policies are effectively implemented. We are dedicated at all levels to the welfare of all species processed through our factories. The Agriculture & Welfare Supply Team works closely with the industry and our customers to ensure that high welfare standards are implemented and maintained globally, across all species.

In the event of a non-conformance raised during an audit, we investigate the root cause and take appropriate action. Depending on the nature of our findings we will work with our supplier to resolve the issue within an agreed time frame. Ultimately, we will cease trading with the supplier if we are not completely satisfied with the outcome. In 2016 our welfare compliance team conducted over 80 farm audits. We are happy to confirm that there were no major non-conformances and all minor non-conformances actioned within an agreed time period.

When we purchase meat from outside of the UK, we make every endeavour endeavor to purchase to an equivalent British welfare standard. Following recent changes to European legislation, we ensure that all our purchased EU pork is, as a minimum, compliant to the revised legislation and therefore comes from Sows that are not confined throughout the whole of their gestation period.

Cranswick closely work with all our Global suppliers and we are committed to the avoidance of confinement through all species. For example, in 2016 over 90% of pork processed by our sites was sourced from farms where Sows are not confined during the gestation period. All our UK pork comes from Red Tractor approved Farms where it is a requirement not to confine Sows during the gestation period.

We do not source any beef from suppliers who use concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO’s).

Our commitment to avoid close confinement also extends into the ingredients that we purchase, all our egg products are sourced from Free Range farms. Over 40% of our broiler chickens that we process are sourced from Freedom Food accredited farms, which operate at lower stocking densities.

Many of the pigs supplied to Cranswick are reared to higher welfare standards associated with outdoor bred or outdoor reared production methods. Approximately 50% of those processed by Preston, and 75% by Norfolk come from outdoor systems managed to the exacting requirements of the RSPCA Assured welfare standard, the balance of those processed are reared indoors in full compliance with the Red Tractor/BMPA Quality Assured Pork (BQAP) welfare standards.

Farm animal welfare is incorporated into contractual obligations for Cranswick’s entire global meat supply base across all species. 

We work closely with our supply base in ensuring they are kept up to date with the latest industry and retailer codes of practice.

We have expanded the business and now have a number of our own pig herds. These are located close to our processing sites in Yorkshire & Norfolk, key eastern production hubs, and this reflects our commitment to avoiding long inter-site transportation times. Around 70% of our contracted pigs are sourced within Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Norfolk, which are recognised as being some of the best pig breeding areas in the UK. 

Livestock journey times from the farms to our production facilities are typically:

  • Yorkshire site – 35% within 1 hour, 66% within 2 hours and 73% within 3 hours
  • Norfolk site – 46% within 1 hour, 90% within 2 hours and 95% within 3 hours 
  • Northern Ireland - 51% within 1 hour, 76.1% within 2 hours and 95% within 3 hours 
  • Crown Poultry - 100% within 2 hours

All Cranswick sites, along with our UK beef, lamb and poultry suppliers, comply with UK Farm Assurance Scheme standards.  Typical journey times are between 3 – 4 hours.

Furthermore, our supply base covering all species purchased outside of the UK also has typical journey times of between 3 – 4 hours. Our objective is that all livestock processed by all our suppliers must not be transported for more than 8 hours.  This is being achieved by all our suppliers across all species.

 

ANIMAL WELFARE Q&A

DOES THE COMPANY HAVE A CLEAR POSITION ON THE AVOIDANCE OF PRODUCTS FROM FARM ANIMALS SUBJECT TO GENETIC ENGINEERING OR CLONING?

It is a requirement of our producers and Technical Conditions of Supply that:

  • No animals across the Cranswick supply base are subject to any genetic modification. We specify to all our suppliers that we will not use genetically engineered or cloned livestock.
  • Our suppliers do not use artificial or hormonal growth promoting substances when rearing animals.
  • We are also monitoring the use of antibiotics in our own herds with a view to reducing the amount administered without compromising animal welfare. Our own farms have reduced antibiotic usage by over 40% from 2015 to 2016 and they have not used any critically important antibiotics in the past 12 months.

We are working with the industry to ensure that best practice is used on all species from all our suppliers and that they are only prescribed when absolutely necessary. To ensure the avoidance of growth promoting substances in our supply chain, we actively monitor the reports published by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate.

Our objective is the reduction and avoidance of antibiotics for prophylactic use across all our supply base. 

We have monitored the trend and since 2009, figures show that there has been almost a 50% reduction in antibiotic usage by our main European suppliers, which accounts for over 74% of our international product purchased. 

 

DOES THE COMPANY HAVE A CLEAR POSITION ON THE AVOIDANCE OF ROUTINE TAIL DOCKING AND TEETH CLIPPING?

Cranswick is committed to the avoidance of routine activities such as tail docking, teeth clipping, castration on pigs, beak trimming on poultry and tail docking on cows. We work closely with our UK and Global producers and meat suppliers in these areas.

We are happy to report that 100% of our dairy cows are not tail docked and 30% of our pig supply base do not carry out tail docking.

Castration is not permitted on UK farm assured pigs. Whilst castration is permitted on the continent, this would be performed by a trained member of staff under the guidance of a veterinarian. We fully support our European suppliers who are working towards non-castration. We are actively encouraging all our suppliers to avoid this procedure. Currently, 72% of European pork purchased originates from farms that do not carry out castration. We foresee that more suppliers will move towards non-castration. For example, one of our main European pork suppliers has made good progress in this area, currently 95% of their pigs were not castrated.

 

DOES THE COMPANY HAVE A CLEAR POSITION ON THE AVOIDANCE OF MEAT FROM ANIMALS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN SUBJECT TO PRE SLAUGHTER STUNNING?

In Cranswick’s condition of supply it is a requirement that all Global suppliers ensure all species of animals are adequately pre-stunned prior to process. 

We require all UK pork to be processed in accordance with the BMPA Quality Assured Pork and Welfare modules, which state that all animals must be stunned prior to slaughter. Our objective is 100% compliance and we can confirm that 100% of all species processed by our suppliers and subsequently supplied into Cranswick – from both the UK and internationally - are pre-stunned.  

We insist on high standards of animal welfare throughout the supply chain. Welfare requirements are built into our contracts and technical conditions of our entire species supply base. All our UK producers are members of independently audited and certified farm assurance schemes such as BMPA Quality Assured Pork. In addition, our own Agricultural & Welfare Supply Team, who report directly into a board director, visit our UK and Global supply base to ensure that the required welfare standards are being maintained.

In addition, we have our own team of qualified Animal Welfare Officers (AWO). They are responsible for inspecting the pigs as they arrive at site, whilst they are in the lairage, and also for ensuring that all animals are handled in the most humane way possible.

 

HAS THE COMPANY SET OBJECTIVES AND TARGETS FOR THE MANAGEMENT OF FARM ANIMAL WELFARE?

We work in partnership with our customers and have a set of farm animal welfare objectives. Cranswick have also agreed set objectives and targets for the management of farm animal welfare with our major retailers, some of these are published. We are working with our customers in sourcing from suppliers who operate to independent higher welfare standards.

Real Welfare outcomes are recorded both on farm and at delivery to the processing unit; these can then be fed back to the supplier to ensure continual improvement with regard to welfare on farm. Welfare outcomes are also monitored at our EU suppliers through audits by our agriculture team of both their farm and processing sites. Animal welfare performance is reported to key personnel within the business.

In 2016 we conducted audits on over 100 farms and Processors in the UK and internationally. In 2015 we increased our Animal Welfare team and employed an Agriculture Technologist. This additional resource will enable us to conduct more audits and help us to monitor and report our welfare objectives. The table below shows some of our objectives.

 

KPI

Target Date

2014

2015

2016

 All animals to be stunned before process

2012

100%

100%

100%

All eggs to be sourced from Free Range farms

2012

100%

100%

100%

Typical Transport Times to our own processing sites -  below 8 hours

2012

100%

100%

100%

All Dairy cows to be free from tethering

2020

N/A

N/A

95%

Farm Assurance – All suppliers across all species to source from nationally recognised Farm Assurance Schemes. If no scheme is available, then a trained Animal Welfare Officer will audit and benchmark a selection of farms against a recognised scheme such as GlobalGap

Note: All UK pigs are Red Tractor Approved.

 

EU Suppliers – Pigs

2020

 

 

88%

 

92%

100%

 

Beef

2017

 

 

80%

 

98%

100%

 

Lamb

2014

 

 

100%

 

100%

100%

 

Poultry

2020

 

 

85%

 

94%

100%

 

HOW DO WE ENSURE THAT OUR FARM ANIMAL WELFARE POLICY IS EFFECTIVELY IMPLEMENTED?

Our own farms work to documented working procedures to ensure best practice at all times.

All our animal welfare officers have been independently trained and certified by external organisations such as Bristol University and Livestockwise who run industry recognised welfare courses.

All farms in our supply base are working towards a standardised code of practice that not only covers welfare but also sustainability and best practice with regards to antibiotic usage. This code of practice has been developed by our Agriculture Welfare team and benchmarked against recognised independent schemes.

 

IS THE COMPANY CURRENTLY INVESTING IN PROJECTS DEDICATED TO ADVANCING FARM ANIMAL WELFARE PRACTICES WITHIN THE INDUSTRY?

We work closely with both our customers and suppliers and run producer groups that look at all aspects of animal welfare throughout the pig production chain.  The Cranswick agricultural team are working with several retailer specific pig producer groups on rearing systems, breed development, welfare, sustainability, environment, and ethical standards. Some examples of these are:

  • Pig sustainability project with Leeds University.
  • Non-confinement of Sows during Farrowing.
  • Trials to research the link between animal feed and pork eating quality.
  • Industry best practice guide on the use of antibiotics.

In addition, we are supporting an initiative to promote the training of apprentices in the farming industry. Cranswick have set up a concept farm that will be involved in industry trials and research to enhance farm animal welfare.

As an active member of the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) and the British Meat Processors Association (BMPA) we are able to contribute to the debate and influence the industry's future approach to animal welfare. We also have representation on the Technical Advisory Committee at the BMPA who are responsible for maintaining, developing and enforcing compliance with the various BMPA Quality Assured Pork schemes for pork meat and pork based meat products. In addition, we also have a representative on the Pig Health & Welfare Committee whose aim is to promote a co-ordinated and integrated approach to improving pig health and welfare.

 

HAS THE COMPANY RECEIVED ANY NOTABLE AWARDS OR ACCREDITATIONS FOR ITS FARM ANIMAL WELFARE PERFORMANCE IN THE LAST TWO YEARS?

We are happy to announce that our own Woodall’s brand has won the Compassion in World Farming Good Pig award 2017. More details can be found at this link: Woodall's Good Pig awardWe have also been involved in helping customers achieve welfare awards. In 2012 Cranswick worked closely with a producer and retailer and they consequently won a Compassion in World Farming Good Pig award. In the same year Cranswick also worked with a food service company that also achieved the Good Pig award.

 

DOES THE COMPANY PROMOTE HIGHER FARM ANIMAL WELFARE TO CONSUMERS THROUGH EDUCATION AND/OR AWARENESS-RAISING ACTIVITIES?

We have a number of producers who are involved in educating school children in the importance of animal welfare and the pig industry through farm visits. Cranswick also attends agricultural shows to engage producers in promoting higher farm welfare systems to the general public. Our graduate scheme also puts great emphasis on high welfare standards and it is incorporated into their training programme.