To be Red Tractor assured, our poultry farmers must work tirelessly to maintain a rigorous set of standards that keep animal welfare at their core and ensure we can deliver full supply chain traceability and safety.
Poultry covers everything from chicken to duck and turkey and each type of bird requires a unique set of skills and standards.
Red Tractor ‘Certified Standards’ cover everything that you care about when buying poultry. For example, all our Certified Standards chicken can be traced back to the hatchery and parent stock they came from and have 10% more space than is required by European legislation. They also experience more enrichment as well as world leading welfare, hygiene and safety standards and we are phasing in the requirement of natural light on every single Red Tractor farm.
Underpinned by all the animal welfare, food safety and traceability checks of our Certified Standards, our Enhanced Welfare chickens are raised in spacious barns, have more room and enriched living conditions in which to grow, roam and play.
Our chickens are raised by British farmers, who are inspected regularly to ensure they meet our rigorous standards.
Our Enhanced Welfare standards also reflect the criteria of the Better Chicken Commitment. Find out more here: welfarecommitments.com.
Also underpinned by our Certified Standards, Red Tractor ‘Free Range’ birds have access to outdoor ranges as well as even more indoor space, giving them ample opportunities to express their natural behaviours. As with all Red Tractor poultry, they have been produced to rigorous safety, welfare and environmental standards, all the way from farms to pack.
TAKE A LOOK AT SOME OF OUR POULTRY STANDARDS…
All staff working on Red Tractor certified farms must be trained and demonstrably competent to carry out their job
- Staff must be enrolled in the ‘Poultry Passport Scheme’ https://www.poultrypassport.org/
- This is an accredited, skills-based program which provides training and maintains professional qualifications for poultry farmers
Farms must have a plan in place to ensure that they can anticipate and manage any serious incidents or potential emergency situations that would threaten the welfare of birds, food safety or the environmentChicks, ducks and poults must all be sourced from red tractor assured breeder farms and hatcheries certified to our standards
- All birds must be identified, and records kept maintaining traceability
- Birds can only be transported in vehicles and by teams trained and assured to catch and move birds under the Red Tractor ‘Poultry Catching & Transport Scheme’ ensuring that every part of our chain is audited and accountable
All birds must be kept in safe, comfortable, hygienic, and sufficiently sized housing
- Housing is constructed and maintained to provide a safe and secure environment where sound is minimised. Temperature and ventilation is appropriate for the age and species of the birds
- The birds are able to keep clean and are provided with fresh and dry bedding which is also traceable to its source
- Lighting follows a 24-hour rhythm, allowing enough light for normal behaviours, inspections and dark periods for rest
- All houses are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected between flocks
The birds must receive a full, healthy diet
- The feed they receive must be suitable, traceable and remain clean and palatable
- There must be sufficient access to the feed for all birds
- The birds must have access to a supply of fresh, clean drinking water
The health and welfare of the birds must be proactively managed
- Every certified poultry farm must have a Flock Health Plan which is produced by their vet and is regularly reviewed, health and welfare records are also maintained
- The birds must also have permanent access to environmental enrichment that is suitable for their needs, i.e., perching and pecking objects, and in the form of bathing water for ducks
- Birds must have any required vaccinations to maintain good health
Antibiotics can only ever be used for specific treatment of disease, and only under the direction of a vet where a formal diagnosis has been made. All antibiotic usage is recorded and reported
The health and welfare of livestock must also be well managed during when birds are removed the farm
Biosecurity is critical on poultry farms. This helps to prevent the spread of disease and protect food safety and animal health. These strict biosecurity policies include:
- Limiting access to the farm to essential visitors only; entry is only permitted when visitors are also healthy, and have not recently had contact with other poultry or any avian species
- Mandatory disinfectants for hands and feet are provided at the entrance to the farm and each poultry house
- Staff and visitors must wear clean boots / disposable overshoes which are then submerged in the foot dip
- Farm dedicated protective clothing (PPE) must be supplied to and worn by all everyone when on-farm
- All vehicles must have their wheels disinfected on entering and exiting the farm
Chlorinated chicken has been a big topic in the media in recent years, but the reason chlorinated chicken is considered problematic to many isn’t because of the chlorine washing itself, but rather what happens in the supply chain prior to this that makes it necessary.
Here in Britain, we have some of the highest hygiene and biosecurity standards in the world. This means that the final chicken product does not need to be washed in chlorine to remove contamination from the rearing process, before they arrive in the supermarket.
This is not true of many other countries in the world. In such places, they do not have the same high hygiene and biosecurity standards up until that point, so the birds need to be washed in chlorine to remove potentially harmful bacteria before they arrive on shelves.
When you buy Red Tractor chicken, you can therefore be sure it has not been chlorine washed and is traceable, safe and farmed with care.
Being a Red Tractor certified farmer is a good thing. It keeps us up to date with all relevant criteria we have to follow and obviously because the chicken is so detailed there’s a little bit more to do. We produce fantastic produce and why not put a stamp on it and say that we do it to a good standard.
Ed gets up bright and early every morning to check the birds and ensure they’re healthy and well cared for…
“We usually start on site at 7am. We check their water consumption during the night and then we’ll use the CCTV to generally have a quick scout over the sheds before we enter them. We’ll then go through the sheds checking the feedlines have run through the night and checking the birds are generally healthy”
Every Red Tractor chicken can be traced back to their egg and parent stock and Ed gets his chickens when they are just a day old…
“We get the chicks when they’re a day old and our integrator produces the parent stocks on a Red Tractor certified breeder farm. Those hens then lay the eggs that we have, and we get told when the chicks are delivered what parent stock the eggs are from. That means if there’s ever a problem, we can track and trace back to where the parents have come from”
Looking after beef and lamb on the family farm growing up helped Ed to understand to best to look after the welfare of his birds
“It goes back to being a stockman really. As a farmer that’s grown up with livestock like beef and sheep, you take some of what you’ve learned into the chickens but it’s just so much more detailed. For example, there’s little weighing platforms at the back of the shed, so the chickens jump on and off constantly and we’re monitoring them on the computer daily to see how much they’re growing”