All M&S fresh milk suppliers are now RSPCA Assured, here we find out more about RSPCA Assured audits and the M&S Milk Pool
Throughout April, May and June RSPCA Assured assessors travelled the length and breadth of the UK assessing dairy farms that supply to the M&S Milk Pool. M&S has had a dedicated Milk Pool since 2000 and assessors had to visit every one of the pool’s 37 farms.
Together the farms produce 150 million pints of milk a year from around 10,000 cows.
|Cows outside at pasture – for example |
is there unrestricted access and
good cow tracks leading to the
pasture so that they do not hurt
Cow husbandry – for example the cubicle unit (where cows sleep, feed and shelter), looking at bedding, feed (for example are they fed a wholesome, nutritious diet?) and environmental enrichment such as cow brushes (pictured).
|Cow health – for example is the farm monitoring for |
infections and disease? Is pain relief provided where
necessary? Are sick cows promptly treated and separated from the herd?
The milking parlour – hygiene standards, machinery maintenance and ensuring proper processes are followed.
|The calving area – for example are the |
calves and cows being fed appropriately
and are they being cared for properly with comfortableaccommodation, such as in
single pens or hutches (for a maximum of
eight weeks), and in barns (over eight weeks)
for the calves and cubicles and/or loose housing
for the cows?
Other facilities and paperwork – for example are all records, checklists, health plans, contingency plans and wild animal control plans in place and up-to-date?
At the end, the farmer gets an assessment outcome report. It details any ‘non-compliances’ (standards that are not being met) and gives guidance on how the farmer can show RSPCA Assured they have been corrected by providing objective evidence, such as photographs. All non-compliances have to be corrected within four weeks to achieve RSPCA Assured certification.
|John Trott, M&S Milk Pool farmer had his RSPCA audit on 4th May. He said: “It was |
a tough two hours. The assessors know dairy farming inside out and it tested us but I am
pleased to say we met all the required standards. We can see that having RSPCA
Assured status strengthens our farm and makes a difference to
the product we deliver for M&S customers."
Steve McLean, Head of Agriculture and Fisheries at M&S, commissioned the assessments.
He said: “RSPCA Assured standards are the toughest in the business. Every farmer has stepped up and delivered everything we and RSPCA Assured has asked of them.”
|Clive Brazier, Chief Executive Officer of RSPCA Assured, said: |
“Thanks to M&S thousands more dairy cows will now have a better life reared to RSPCA welfare standards.
And not only that but, for the first time ever, consumers will be able to buy RSPCA Assured labelled
milk in a high street retailer.
This is a major step forward for improving dairy cow welfare and we hope other retailers will follow suit.”