Free Range

Last updated 4 September 2020

While free-range operations profess to care about their animals’ welfare, there is no legal framework decreeing what free range is. In fact, the RSPCA has been criticised for placing its 'Paw of Approval' on pig products which have come from farms with deplorable conditions.

free range 2 Conditions found on an RSPCA free-range farm.

Animal Liberation Victoria has conducted extensive investigations into so-called "free-range" farms approved by RSPCA.

The main body that offers accreditation for a particular set of 'free-range' guidelines is the Humane Choice organisation.

  • "The Humane Choice Standards have been developed in conjunction with the free-range pork industry to provide these standards for the rearing, handling, transport, and slaughter of pigs" Humane Choice Standards.

Much like free-range farming in general, the term "bred free-range" is used to capitalise on everyday consumers’ compassion and ethics - pigs that are "bred free-range" are still raised in factory farms. Many "bred free-range" pig farms still use farrowing crates and practices like tail cutting.

Conditions found on an RSPCA free-range farm.

Regardless of the conditions under which animals are raised for food, they will end up in a slaughterhouse. Pigs want to live just as much as humans do, and do not give their lives up peacefully - they fight until their last agonising breath. The video evidence shows that pigs, even those raised with space and fresh air, are killed in the same manner that intensively farmed pigs are.

Farrowing hut on a bred free-range RSPCA approved farm.

Free-range and "higher welfare" pig farming is the industry's answer to one of their largest problems or threats - that of increasingly aware consumers, who are beginning to factor ethics into their everyday shopping. The end goal of free-range farmers remains the same: to turn a profit, at the expense of thinking and feeling animals who they view as mere "stock" or commodities, no different to a toothbrush or a television. Free-range farming fails entirely to address this central issue, instead perpetuating the idea that "superior" beings have the right to exploit "inferior" beings, which of course, is a manner of thinking shared with other forms of discrimination such as racism or sexism.