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Farm animal welfare

Farm animal welfare at Morrisons

Morrisons is a unique business in that we make the majority of the food we sell.

Morrisons is British farming's largest supermarket customer, selling 100% British fresh meat, milk and eggs and manufacturing most of our own food in 18 manufacturing sites and 493 stores, including bakery, seafood, meat, fruit & veg, flowers and chilled processed product. We are the only UK retailer to buy animals and whole crops directly from over 3,500 British farmers, some of whom have been supplying us for over 30 years, a testament to the strength and fairness of our supply chain relationships. Click through to read some of their stories:

We own our own abattoirs, located in Turiff (Aberdeen), Spalding (Lincolnshire) and Colne (Lancashire); Colne is the only three species abattoir in the UK, processing beef, pork and lamb. We also own our own manufacturing and packing facilities, which means that we can use the whole carcass and all of the crop, giving farmers a fair price for the products they grow.

For a detailed overview of our policies and monitoring, please
click through to the first of our annual reports.

For more information on our Animal Health and Welfare programmes, please
click through to our Farming website.

Red Tractor Assured

All our own brand fresh meat and dairy must be Red Tractor farm assured. Red Tractor is a world leading farm assurance programme that covers a large number of areas that are important for Morrisons and our customers.

This will include food safety, animal welfare and environmental care and ensures that every farm is independently audited on a regular basis.

Fish welfare

Our farmed fish and seafood all comes from Aquaculture Stewardship Council, Global Aquaculture Alliance Best Aquaculture Practices or Global G.A.P certified farms, all of which include provisions for fish welfare.

Cage-free eggs

We have been listening hard to our customers about taking eggs from caged hens and so we are bringing our commitment to go cage-free forward by 3 years. All our shell eggs will be from cage-free production systems by 2022. All eggs used in our own brand products will be from cage-free production by 2025.

We have been working with our suppliers on this for a long time, and since we brought the Chippindale Foods business into our company earlier this year, have had the opportunity to work even more closely with the farmers who supply us directly. This means that we can work together to make these production changes at a farm level in a sustainable way.


We clearly label all our products because our customers tell us they want to be able to make informed decisions about what they buy.

From listening to our customers we know that buying British is important, so we ensure that country of origin is always clearly labelled.

All our higher welfare and organic products are clearly labelled, this includes products such as our free range eggs, free range chicken, outdoor bred pork and organic milk.

Farm assurance standards

For meat used in our products which is sourced from outside the UK, our policy is to ensure that minimum farm assurance standards are in place.

Our farmed animal and fish standards form part of our contractual agreements with suppliers and are strictly monitored in our supply chains.

Our minimum standards require that farm animal and fish welfare is independently audited by an approved certification body and developed in a transparent multi-stakeholder process.

Areas that our customers ask about

  1. Confinement of animals
    • Morrisons adheres to EU regulation, and more specifically British Red Tractor standards, that have strict controls on animal confinement. Our farm standards policy covers animals of UK, EU and non-EU country of origin.
    • We have strict requirements in avoiding animals produced in systems which use sow stalls, single penning, battery cages, tethering, veal crates and force feeding.
    • We offer our customers choice with free range and organic which require higher welfare standards and more space for animals. All own brand fresh chicken is produced to higher welfare standards as a minimum. These chickens are reared in sheds with natural light, bales and perches.
    • Our farmed fish standards have requirements on stocking density where appropriate and all based on RSPCA Freedom Foods.
  2. Growth promoting substances
    • We prohibit the use of hormonal growth promotants and antibiotic based growth promotants in our livestock and fish supply chains.
  3. Reduction of antibiotic use
    • Antibiotics used as animal growth promoters are strictly forbidden on any farms supplying Morrisons own brand products.
    • From 1st January 2019, we do not have any antibiotics classed as ‘critical’ for human health including colistin, used on pigs coming into our fresh pork range.
    • At all times, farmers observe strict withdrawal periods for any animal or bird who may have received an antibiotic treatment; regulated residue levels means food is always safe to eat.
    • Animal and bird welfare is important for our business, our customers, and for the farms we work with. That’s why on occasion and after scientific diagnosis, vets working with our supplying farms may need to prescribe antibiotics to livestock to treat certain health conditions.
    • However to help keep antibiotics effective for the human population, we have an active programme of responsible use in place - please click here to read through it.
  4. Avoiding surgical interventions on animals
    • 100% of Morrisons fresh beef, pork and lamb is British and produced to Red Tractor standards. The UK and EU have strict regulations around routine surgical produces in animals. With pigs, castration, routine teeth clipping and routine tail docking is not permitted. Castration is permitted in cattle and sheep under strict veterinary guidance. We have a Yearling Beef initiative that promotes the use of bulls in our beef systems that provides a practical outlet for farmers that wish to avoid castration. Mulesing is strictly prohibited in any lamb products.
    • EU and UK legislation has strict guidelines around routine surgical procedures in farmed animals that include veterinary guidance.
  5. Pre-slaughter stunning
    • Morrisons policy requires that all all meat used in any Morrisons branded product to be stunned in a manner that renders the animal insensible to pain prior to slaughter.
    • In salmon, sea bass, trout, crab and pangasius we have adopted all prescribed stun methods in our supply chains.
  6. Long distance transportation
    • As a vertically integrated business we are able to manage live transportation times, keeping them to a minimum and have a fleet of high specification transport vehicles to ensure optimum comfort for livestock. Our policy is that all transport times must be under eight hours with the vast majority of live animal transport in our supply chain being less than four hours.
  7. Live imports/exports
    • We do not import any live animals into the UK for processing in our abattoirs
    • Our dairy bull calf scheme, established within our farming research programme now processes over 30,000 dairy bulls calves per year, providing additional income for dairy farmers and reducing the appeal for them to export live animals from the UK.
  8. Monitoring welfare in our supply base
    • We monitor animal welfare outcomes throughout our supply chain, this is particularly useful in more intensive systems as it ensures a means to react quickly to changes.
    • Pig suppliers are monitored under Real Welfare Outcome measures which is part of Red Tractor standard and are conducted every quarter by trained veterinarians on every farm. In addition, we have a number of extra Morrisons’ standards assessed during the Red Tractor audit, addressing key measures from stockmanship to health and safety. We also report back to farmers any animal health issues that we observe at our plants on every batch of animals a farmer supplies.
    • Our chicken, egg and milk farmers monitor welfare outcome measures on all stock and provide summary reports to Morrisons Agricultural team that is regularly reviewed.
    • For more information on our Welfare Outcomes measures and farm programme please click through to our farming website.
    • Morrisons was the first to introduce CCTV cameras at point of slaughter across all our abattoirs. Footage review plays a critical role in enforcing standards. Our footage is reviewed at least every two hours by security personnel independently trained in welfare standards. In the event of any issue of concern footage is made available to an independent veterinarian based on site for follow up. All footage is kept for 30 days and this is also made available to the Food Standards Agency upon request.
    • All our Morrisons fresh Beef, Pork and Lamb come from abattoirs that have WATOK (Welfare of Animals at Time Of Kill) trained employees, which means that welfare is at the heart of every lairage decision. This also stretches to our Morrisons specialist field based buyers whom carry out regular supplier reviews. The supply chain links enable us to ensure that suppliers are complying with company policy, allowing us deal non compliances on an individual basis.
  9. Genetic engineering
    • Morrisons policy is that genetically modified material and/or milk or meat from cloned animals is not permitted in any Morrisons labelled product. This includes animals derived from the semen or embryos of clones.
  10. Working with our suppliers and industry
    • Through the Morrisons Farm Programme we work with our supply chains to facilitate improvements in all areas of food production including animal welfare.
    • We were the first retailer to require natural light (windows) and environmental enrichment in all housed chicken. This means that all Morrisons fresh chicken meets this standard as a minimum standard.
    • We developed our Yearling Beef programme that is a sustainable solution for cattle farmers to avoid castration.
    • We responded to the need to avoid dairy bull calves from live export or being shot at birth. This year we will process over 25,000 dairy bulls through our abattoirs. Click through to our farming website for more information