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Guide to Understanding Our Standards

Over recent years, numerous certification and labelling programmes have emerged in response to growing consumers demand for better quality meat, eggs and dairy products from animals treated with high welfare. Some common food labels and marketing claims, such as “farm assured”, “farm fresh” or “locally produced”, offer no real assurance of high-welfare management, while some farming systems might not fully meet consumer expectations when it comes to high-welfare, pasture-based management.

Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW has among the most rigorous standards for farm animal welfare currently in use in Europe and North America. Our standards are developed in collaboration with scientists, veterinarians, researchers and farmers across the globe to maximise practicable, high-welfare farm management.

We’re incredibly proud of our reputation among consumer groups, farmers and the wider food industry as a pragmatic, farming-based organisation driven by practical science and common sense.

Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW standards incorporate best practice and recent research and have been adopted only after thorough review. The basic premise of all the standards is that animals must be able to behave naturally and be in a state of physical and psychological well-being. Our label ensures the integrity of sustainable, independent farms and high animal welfare practices.

To accomplish the goals of the Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW programme, all standards address every aspect of each species’ lifecycle needs—from birth to death. We are well aware that the economic viability of every farm in the programme is equally essential, and our standards have been proven to be achievable by the vast majority of situations. We review our standards annually, updating them as needed to incorporate new research and on-farm findings.

How to Read and Interpret the Standards

Any practice not covered in the standards is permissible unless specifically excluded. We respect the farmer’s ability to design his or her farming system to the greatest extent possible and acknowledge that different approaches to animal husbandry are often required in different parts of the country/world due to variations in geographical conditions. Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW standards are meant to be outcome-based and not prescriptive. It is the task of the programme’s auditors to confirm that a farm can present the high-welfare outcomes the programme requires.

If you see these words in AGW’s standards, strict adherence is required:

Prohibited: means the practice described is banned.

Must: means a standard has to be adhered to as directed.

The following words offer some flexibility and interpretation:

Recommend/encourage: means it is viewed as the best practice, but other methods will be accepted as long as the goal of high welfare management is not jeopardised.

Should: means the standard should be adhered to; however, variations will be accepted as long as the goal of high welfare management is not jeopardised.

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