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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. 

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Together the farms produce 150 million pints of milk a year from around 10,000 cows.

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Each audit takes approximately two hours and assesses the farm for compliance
with more than 300 RSPCA dairy cattle welfare standards.

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Here’s an outline of what they check 

5.pngCows outside at pasture – for example
is there unrestricted access and
good cow tracks leading to the
pasture so that they do not hurt
their feet?

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).


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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? 
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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?
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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? 

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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. 


assessment outcome report


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."
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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.”
Clive Brazier, Chief Executive Officer of RSPCA Assured