This year, have a very merry higher welfare holiday season

FESTIVE FAIR: Whether it's meat, eggs or fish, support those who support higher animal welfare.
FESTIVE FAIR: Whether it's meat, eggs or fish, support those who support higher animal welfare.

We are all hopefully looking forward to a special meal this festive season, and if you do choose to eat meat, eggs or fish, it's a great chance to support Australian farmers working for better animal welfare.

Here are our top tips on how to make your Christmas lunch a higher welfare one.

Look for the logo

When it comes to finding higher welfare products, the RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme has done the hard work for you.

The RSPCA Approved logo can be found on products in both major and independent supermarkets, so wherever you shop, you can look for the logo to be assured that the product has come from a farm with a focus on animal welfare.

An RSPCA Approved farm has to meet our detailed animal welfare standards, which go well beyond legal requirements. Farms are also assessed two to four times a year by specialised RSPCA Assessors who check the standards are being met.

Brands sourcing from RSPCA Approved farms must have traceability systems in place to trace product from point of sale right back through to the farm.

The RSPCA's standards are specific to each species' needs and encourage natural behaviour expression.

For example, for chickens and turkeys to have a good life, it's vital they have access to perches to help build stronger legs, interesting objects to peck at, and dry litter covering the floor that allows them to clean and maintain their feathers by dustbathing.

Chickens and turkeys can do all of this - and more - on RSPCA Approved farms.

The RSPCA works to improve the lives of as many animals as possible, and it's important that this includes the millions of animals on farms now and into the future.

So, the RSPCA encourages those who plan to have meat, eggs or fish on offer, to make a higher welfare choice.

For example by choosing RSPCA Approved turkey and ham you are supporting farms that prioritise animal welfare. If Christmas lunch will focus more on seafood, RSPCA Approved salmon is also available. Find all this and more at www.rspcaapproved.org.au.

Know what you're buying

It can sometimes be tricky to know whether a particular product is higher welfare.

There's a lot of marketing terms thrown around and often there's no nationally agreed definitions or standards. Looking out for cage-free (barn-laid or free-range) eggs is a good start, though be aware that conditions on farms can vary.

A good free-range farm will allow hens access to a quality outdoor range, which includes shade and protection from predators, as well as a quality indoor area.

With pigs, while 'sow stall-free' is a good first step, it doesn't always mean the product is higher welfare.

Pigs should be free to express natural behaviours, whether raised indoors or with access to the outdoors.

Sow stalls and farrowing crates are not allowed on RSPCA Approved farms, and there's a focus on providing for pigs' behavioural and physical needs which encourages positive mental wellbeing.

If you're thinking of purchasing a product and it's not clear what brands are doing to give farm animals a better life, why not contact them and ask?

Voting with your wallet and letting brands know you care about animal welfare is one of the best ways to drive change for farm animals, today.

Start a conversation

Want to know more about farm animals? The RSPCA Knowledgebase is a trusted source of reliable animal welfare knowledge, based on the best available science.

There'll be lots to catch up on this holiday season, but it's also a great chance to start a conversation with family and friends about the welfare of farm animals.

When doing the Christmas shopping, there are plenty of ways to make a higher welfare choice at Christmas, right down to the dozens of egg whites for the pavlovas.

We can all improve the lives of Australian farm animals through the choices we make.

Visit www.kb.rspca.org.au/knowledge-base/what-is-higher-welfare-food/