Animal Welfare Approved

Sheep Standards

PDF Version of  Sheep Standards

The Animal Welfare Approved seal is a hard earned badge of difference and demonstrates the farmer’s commitment to the care of their animals, the land and the local community. Farmers in this program will be distinguished by a humane and conscientious attitude towards the animals in their care as evidenced by physical audit and development of detailed plans and records of farm practices.

Farmers in the program agree to a minimum of one visit a year from Animal Welfare Approved staff or agents, with the possibility of additional visits if deemed necessary, to confirm compliance with the standards during various seasons and to allow observation of animals in different phases of life. Participation in the program is on an annual basis and must be renewed each year.

The premise of the Animal Welfare Approved standards is that animals must be allowed to behave naturally. The following standards allow sheep the opportunity to perform natural and instinctive behaviors essential to their health and well-being. Provisions are made to ensure social interaction, comfort, and physical and psychological well-being.

The Animal Welfare Approved program is voluntary. The standards do not supersede national government or state legislation.

Animal Welfare Approved recommends that farmers have the Guide to Understanding Our Standards and Standards and Program Definitions documents at hand while reading these standards.


1.0.1 Each farm must be a working independent family farm, that is, one on which a family or individual: Owns the animals. Is engaged in the day to day management of the farm and its animals. Derives a share of his/her/their livelihood. Produces a livestock product for sale or trade.

1.0.2 The family or individual may participate in networks, co-operatives or marketing groups as long as each member is audited as meeting all other requirements listed in these standards.

1.0.3 Exceptions to the family farm requirement may be permitted for farms that serve an educational purpose or demonstrate exceptionally high animal welfare.

1.0.4 The family or individual must employ the Animal Welfare Approved Standards for all the animals of the species for which they are seeking approval.  Farmers must not use “split” or “dual” systems, in which some animals of one species are simultaneously kept in systems that do as well as systems that do not meet Animal Welfare Approved Standards.

Note: A farm is not required to seek approval for all species on the farm simultaneously.

1.0.5 Meat sold under the Animal Welfare Approved label or logo must come from animals that have been slaughtered using a method and at a location that has received written approval from Animal Welfare Approved.


2.0.1 Animals who have undergone genetic selection to the point that their welfare is negatively affected are prohibited.

2.0.2 Animals must be chosen with consideration of their ability to thrive in the prevailing climatic conditions of the farm, in pasture-based, free range, outdoor systems.

2.0.3 Cloned or genetically engineered animals are prohibited.

Note: This includes the use of cloned or genetically engineered breeding stock, the offspring of clones or genetically engineered animals and semen from cloned or genetically engineered animals.

2.0.4 The farmer must ensure that any breeding animal brought onto the farm is suitable for the Animal Welfare Approved program.

2.0.5 A record of the source, date of purchase and number of breeding animals must be kept.

2.0.6 Recommended Farmers should develop a breeding plan to produce their own replacement stock.

2.0.7 Any farm or ranch which rescues or rehabilitates animals must contact the Animal Welfare Approved office as soon as practically possible and preferably before rescue animals arrive on farm.

2.1 The breeding flock

2.1.1 Not allocated.

2.1.2 Laparoscopic or surgical artificial insemination is prohibited.

2.1.3 Not allocated.

2.1.4 The ability to successfully give birth independently must be taken into account in modifications over time to flock genetics.

Note: In order to score this standard the auditor will assess the number of assisted births.

2.1.5 Embryo transfer and knowingly using the semen or progeny of animals produced by embryo transfer is prohibited.

2.1.6 In breeding programs, attention must be paid to breed characteristics that will improve welfare such as susceptibility to lameness, and longevity.

2.2 Not allocated

2.3 Animals raised for meat

2.3.1 Feeder or store animals must only be obtained from Animal Welfare Approved farms.


Health and management planning increases both positive welfare and productivity.

3.0.1 Animal management must be focused on promoting health rather than treating disease.

3.0.2 Each farmer in the Animal Welfare Approved program must establish contact with a qualified expert such as a veterinarian. The qualified expert must be familiar with: The animals on the farm. The health requirements of the state. Methods to maximize animal health and welfare.

3.0.3 Recommended Each farmer should schedule regular preventative care visits by a qualified expert.

Note: The Animal Welfare Approved program will provide support and assistance in achieving this standard.

3.0.4 A health plan emphasizing prevention of illness or injury must be prepared in consultation with the farm’s qualified expert advisor to promote positive health and limit the need for treatment. It must address: Avoidance of physical, nutritional or environmental stress. Lameness. Climatic considerations. Vaccinations and other methods to cope with prevailing disease challenges. Biosecurity measures. Nutrition. Environmental impacts, including manure management and run-off. Pasture management. Exclusion of predators and control of rats and mice. Euthanasia. Mastitis. Johne’s disease.

3.0.5 Any surgical procedure not covered by these standards must be carried out by a veterinarian.

3.0.6 All animals must be thoroughly inspected at least once per 24 hours.

Notes: During this inspection, the welfare of each animal must be observed. If any animal is not in a state of well-being, it must be cared for immediately and corrective measures must be taken. During a time of increased risk to health and welfare, inspections must be increased as necessary to protect the animal’s well-being.

Derogation may be granted for operations that can show, in extensive systems, welfare would not be compromised by fewer inspections.

3.0.7 to 3.0.8 Not allocated.

3.0.9 If there is disease or known risk of disease on farm vaccines must be used.

Note: In order to help eliminate or reduce vulnerability to disease and the need for antibiotics at therapeutic levels, Animal Welfare Approved encourages the appropriate use of vaccines on an individual or group basis for prevention of disease.

3.0.10 Any sick or injured animals on the farm must be treated immediately to minimize pain and distress. This must include veterinary treatment if required. Recommended Homeopathic, herbal or other non-antibiotic alternative treatments are preferred. If alternative treatments are not suitable or not effective or if a veterinarian has recommended antibiotic treatment, this must be administered. Withholding treatment in order to preserve an animal’s eligibility for market is prohibited.

Note: Finding untreated injured or ill animals may be grounds for removal from the program.

3.0.11 Animals treated with an antibiotic must not be slaughtered or used to produce milk for the Animal Welfare Approved program before a period of time has passed that is at least twice the licensed withdrawal period of the antibiotic used.

3.0.12 Animals treated with any off-license medication must not be slaughtered or used to produce milk for the Animal Welfare Approved program until at least seven days after medication, or an alternative withdrawal as advised by a veterinarian. Animals must not be treated with any medications prohibited for food animal use.

3.0.13 Action must be taken to treat lameness and to remove any causes of lameness.

3.0.14 There must be provision of a safe place for sick or injured animals to recover, free of competition.

3.0.15 If injured animals are separated from the flock they must only be kept apart until such time they can rejoin the group without adversely affecting either the health or welfare of the individual or the flock.

3.0.16 The sub-therapeutic and/or non-therapeutic use of antibiotics, or any other medicines, to control or prevent disease or promote growth, is prohibited.

3.0.17 Growth hormones or the use of any other substances promoting weight gain are prohibited.

3.0.18 Probiotics to promote positive health are permitted.

3.0.19 Records must be kept of the administration of veterinary medical products. Date of purchase. Name of product. Quantity purchased. Identity of the animals treated. Reason why animals were treated. Number of animals treated. Date when treatment started and finished. Withdrawal time.

3.0.20 The primary methods of preventing parasite infestations must be pasture management or rotation and bedding management and removal.

3.0.21 If prevention has not been effective, medicine regimens must be implemented to effectively control worms, lice, mange and any other parasites.

3.0.22 The use of organophosphates and other products with the same or a similar mode of action is prohibited.

Note: An exception to the standard above may be considered if other treatments have been shown to be ineffective. Please refer to the Animal Welfare Approved paper on organophosphate and non-organophosphate type products.

3.0.23 Fecal samples to monitor internal parasite burdens must be taken at least annually.

3.0.24 Fecal samples must be reviewed by a competent person.

3.0.25 Recommended Fecal samples should be taken during the growing season when animals are out on pasture.

3.0.26 Recommended FAMACHA should be used to monitor barber pole worm burdens.

Note: FAMACHA is a tool to measure the degree of anemia shown by a sheep. Anemia is most commonly a sign of barber pole worm infestation but there are other causes. 

3.1 Health management for sheep

3.1.1 Non-therapeutic use of substances to induce estrus (heat) is prohibited.

3.1.2 Not allocated.

3.1.3 Foot care must be carried out by a competent person.

3.1.4 Farmers must participate in a recognized scrapie eradication program.

3.1.5 Use of chemicals that would cause the cessation of wool growth is prohibited.

3.2 Temporary separation

3.2.1 Animals must not be kept in isolation unless briefly required for veterinary procedures or to recover from an illness or injury.

3.2.2 The pen or enclosure for temporarily single-housed animals must meet the space requirements in section 8.1.

3.2.3 Recommended Temporarily single-housed animals should have visual and auditory contact with others.

3.2.4 At minimum, pens used for the treatment of sick animals must be cleaned between each use.

3.3 Euthanasia

3.3.1 Animals experiencing pain or suffering from which they are unlikely to recover must be immediately and humanely euthanized on the farm.

3.3.2 Euthanasia must be carried out in a manner that renders the animal immediately insensible to pain.

Note: Please contact Animal Welfare Approved if further information on appropriate methods of euthanasia is required.

3.3.3 Euthanizing animals in a way that causes unnecessary pain or suffering is prohibited. Prohibited methods include: Electrocution Suffocation Exsanguination without prior unconsciousness. Poison Blow to the head by blunt instrument on lambs older than seven days.

Note: A blow to the head by blunt instrument on lambs younger than seven days of age is only acceptable if a preferred method is not readily available and the animal would suffer if euthanasia was not carried out immediately.

3.3.4 Not allocated.

3.3.5 When local or national authorities order the killing of a flock or if any large-scale euthanasia is about to take place to eradicate disease, the Animal Welfare Approved program must be notified immediately. Such an event must be supervised by a veterinarian, government authority, livestock expert and/or official representative of the Animal Welfare Approved program, to ensure that the proper euthanasia protocol and humane handling procedures are being followed.


4.0.1 A plan to care for or house animals in emergency situations must be prepared and be understood by all of those working on the farm. The plan must consider the welfare of the animals during a fire. In shelters or housing with restricted access (a single door or doorways), a fire plan must be established with escape routes to the outdoors, available from the interior of the shelter to allow all animals to be evacuated quickly.  In shelters or housing with restricted access, a method to extinguish the fire (fire extinguisher, water source) must be readily accessed. Animals must be kept from direct access to electrical wiring and heat sources as a fire prevention measure. The plan must ensure welfare of the animals is maintained in any potential climatic extreme such as floods, snow storms, or drought. The plan must ensure welfare of the animals is maintained during any potential disruption of services or mechanical breakdown, such as water supply cutoff or breakdown of feeding or ventilation machinery. The plan must ensure the welfare of animals is maintained during transport to include actions to be taken in the event of an accident or vehicle breakdown.


5.0.1 Each farm must maintain, and provide the auditor access to, records to demonstrate compliance with Animal Welfare Approved standards.

5.0.2 Records must be kept of the purchase, sale or transfer of Animal Welfare Approved animals and products (e.g. wool, meat etc.).

5.0.3 Records must be kept of mortalities, morbidity and culls including the cause for these where known.

5.0.4 All classes of animals must be kept in stable groups; mixing animals from different groups should be avoided.

5.0.5 Special care must be taken when mixing breeding males to socialize them to one another as safely as possible and to minimize harm to individuals.

5.0.6 All groups of animals must be age, size and behaviorally sorted to ensure the welfare of less dominant animals.

5.0.7 All facilities, equipment, fittings and pasture used by the animals must be free of debris.

5.0.8 All facilities, equipment, fittings, fencing and pasture areas must be designed and maintained in such a way that they do not pose a risk, or inflict injury or damage to the animals.

5.1 Management of sheep

5.1.1 Animals must be maintained at body score 2 or above.

5.1.2 Breeding animals must not exceed body score 4.

5.1.3 A competent person must be available at birthing time to assist if problems are anticipated at delivery.

5.1.4 to 5.1.5 Not allocated.

5.1.6 Ewes must not lamb before the age of 13 months.

Note: In a situation where lambing takes place over a period of time the herd average figure will be assessed.

5.1.7 Not allocated.

5.1.8 When conditions permit lambing must take place outside on pasture.

5.1.9 A clean environment with sufficient space must be provided for lambing. Bedding must be provided if lambing does not take place on non-denuded pasture.

Note: See the specified space allowances in section 8.1.

5.1.10 Recommended Ewes should not lamb before the age of 18 months.

5.1.11 If welfare problems (including high mortality of lambs or ewes, high levels of assisted births, low body condition of lambs or ewes result from the early age at which ewes lamb, then the Animal Welfare Approved program will require the farmer to increase the age at first lambing accordingly.

5.1.12 If a lambing pen is used it must provide a minimum of 25 sq. feet (2.32 sq. meters) and provide easy access to fresh water and feed.

Note: Pens constructed following farm approval must meet the standard above. Pens that were constructed before farm approval that are at least 20 sq. ft (1.86 sq. meters) may be acceptable.

5.1.13 The ewe and newborn lamb(s) may be kept in a pen for a maximum of 72 hours.

5.1.14 A ewe may be temporarily restrained if all other methods to encourage adoption of a lamb have failed.

Note: A written record for the reason of rejection and the method of restraint must be kept.

5.1.15 The health and well-being of the sheep must be protected by ensuring the animals have appropriate wool or hair cover at critical times of the year. Where extenuating circumstances requires shearing in colder weather, bedding and shelter must be provided for seven days.

5.2 Provisions for lambs

5.2.1 Lambs must be provided with colostrum within the first six hours of birth.

5.2.2 Recommended Farmers should test for Johne’s disease.

5.2.3 Colostrum and milk for lambs must not knowingly come from ewes that are Johne’s positive.

5.2.4 to 5.2.5 Not allocated.

5.2.6 Recommended Lambs should be reared by their mothers.

5.2.7 Recommended Orphan or excess lambs should be fostered onto other ewes.

5.2.8 If foster ewes are used the number of lambs must be adjusted to the amount of milk the ewe can produce and the number of foster lambs she will accept.

5.2.9 Foster mothers they must not become debilitated by nursing.

5.2.10 Sick or injured ewes must not be used as foster mothers.

5.2.11 to 5.2.12 Not allocated.

5.2.13 Lambs may be reared as part of a group. Lambs living in groups must be fed milk or milk replacer no less than twice a day.

5.2.14 Milk replacer containing antibiotics, growth promoters and/or any animal by-products aside from milk protein is prohibited.

Note: If the welfare of a lamb could be compromised and evidence can be submitted that suitable products are not available, a derogation is in operation to allow milk replacers which do not meet the standard above.

5.2.15 All nipples and other feeding equipment must be cleaned regularly.

5.2.16 If feeders are used there must never be more lambs in the pen than nipples on the feeder unless ad lib self feeding is provided.

5.2.17 Raising individual lambs in isolation is prohibited.

5.2.18 Provision must be made for lambs to go outside and graze in season.

5.2.19 All lambs must have continuous access to high quality forage/roughage from seven days of age onwards.

Note: Access is recommended from day one.

5.3 Weaning

5.3.1 Recommended Husbandry systems that allow young lambs to remain in the flock with their mothers until weaning occurs naturally are recommended.

5.3.2 Not allocated.

5.3.3 Newly weaned or separated lambs must be kept in groups of familiar animals.

5.3.4 Not allocated.

5.3.5 Separation of the lamb from the ewe must involve methods designed to cause as little stress as possible.

5.3.6 After separation ewes and lambs must either be kept in adjacent pens where they can see, hear and sniff/lick each other or be completely out of sight and hearing of each other.

5.3.7 Feed for lambs must be clean and appealing.

5.3.8 to 5.3.12 Not allocated.

5.3.13 Weaning lambs at less than three months of age is prohibited (see 5.3.17).

5.3.14 Lambs that are not yet weaned may be separated from their mothers at less than three months of age if they go direct to slaughter.

5.3.15 to 5.3.16 Not allocated.

5.3.17 In exceptional circumstances when the health and welfare of the lamb or the ewe would otherwise be compromised, lambs may be weaned before three months of age. A record must be kept of each instance and the reasons for this early weaning.

5.4, 5.5, 5.6 & 5.7 Not allocated

5.8 Castration         

5.8.1 to 5.8.2 Not allocated.

5.8.3 Ram lambs may only be castrated when uncontrolled breeding cannot be prevented by any other management. The procedure must be carried out by a competent person.

5.8.4 Physical castration is the only acceptable method.

Note: Immunocastration and other forms of chemical (synthetic or natural) castration or testosterone production limiting methods must receive prior written consent from the Animal Welfare Approved program.

5.8.5 to 5.8.6 Not allocated.

5.8.7 The only acceptable method of castration for lambs is by use of rubber rings or emasculator (burdizzo).

Note: Other methods require approval from the Animal Welfare Approved program.

5.8.8 It is prohibited to castrate lambs that are more than seven days old.

5.9 Physical alterations

5.9.1 to 5.9.2 Not allocated.

5.9.3 Tail docking is prohibited.

Note: Shepherds who meet all other Animal Welfare Approved protocols but do not meet the standard on tail docking are invited to contact the Animal Welfare Approved program to discuss a timetable to come into full compliance.

5.9.4 Dehorning is prohibited. Horns may be tipped as long as the living tissue inside the horn is not being cut.

5.9.5 Mulesing is prohibited.

5.10 Identification

5.10.1 Where identification is required it must not cause harm to the animal. Recommended The preferred method for permanent identification is Sub-Cutaneous Radio Frequency Identification. Recommended The preferred method of temporary identification is non-toxic paints or dyes. Ear tagging and tattooing are permitted methods of identification.

5.10.2 Not allocated.

5.10.3 Ear-marking by cutting/notching the ears is prohibited.


6.0.1 Animals must have free access to clean, fresh water at all times.

6.0.2 Animals must have a feeding plan that will guarantee a varied, well-balanced and wholesome nutritional regime appropriate for their age.

Note: Particular attention must be paid to older ewes that may have poor teeth.

6.0.3 A list of ingredients or sample tear tags from all feed, feed blocks and mineral blocks used on farm must be made available to the Animal Welfare Approved representative.

6.0.4 Food and water must be distributed in a way that eliminates competition.

6.0.5 Feeding meat or animal by-products is prohibited, Feeding fishmeal and other aquatic products to sheep is prohibited.

6.0.6 Wherever possible, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or derivatives of GMOs, including GMO feed and veterinary and health care products containing GMOs or their derivatives as well as the growing of genetically engineered crops must be avoided.

6.0.7 Recommended Livestock feeds should minimize ingredients that are in direct competition with human nutrition.

Note: Feeds that are in competition for human nutrition include soy and grains.

6.1 Food and water for sheep

6.1.1 To ensure proper rumen function sheep must be provided with 70 percent long fiber roughage/forage in their diet on a daily dry matter basis from weaning onwards.

6.1.2 Not allocated.

6.1.3 Any changes in diet must be carried out gradually to minimize rumen problems.

6.1.4 The nutritional regime and pasture management plan must take into account the added nutritional requirements of lactating animals (see also 6.0.2 and 7.0.7).

6.1.5 Feedlots and other types of confinement feeding operations are prohibited.


The aim of good pasture management is to satisfy the flock’s food-seeking behaviors. Animals must be able to explore the ground and their natural environment.

For management of sheep in extreme weather please see sections 7.5 and 8.0.

7.0.1 Continuous outdoor pasture access is required for all animals.

7.0.2 to 7.0.3 Not allocated.

7.0.4 Recommended Range areas should be used in rotation. Both extensive and rotational grazing systems are permitted.

7.0.5 The amount of outdoor area must be such that the health and welfare of the animals and pasture quality is maintained.

7.0.6 Animals must have access to pasture areas that are well drained and clean.

7.0.7 A pasture management plan must be in place that addresses the specific farm site. It must ensure that: The nutritional requirements of grazing animals can be adequately met through grazing and appropriate supplementation. Not allocated. The composition of the pastures does not create health problems for the animals. Animals have access to fresh, clean pasture that has not become polluted with manure. The location of water, shelter, and feeding areas is addressed.

7.0.8 Periodic soil testing must be conducted as necessary.

7.0.9 Recommended Periodic testing of pasture or forage nutritional content is recommended (see also 6.0.2).

7.0.10 Herbicides and pesticides may only be used when weeds or pests cannot be practically controlled by other means.

7.0.11 Herbicides and pesticides must be mixed, used and disposed of according to manufacturer’s instructions to avoid environmental contamination.

7.0.12 Animals must not be grazed or kept on land within 21 days of direct application of herbicides or pesticides.

7.0.13 The use of any manures or fertilizers for pasture land that are bought in from off-farm must be justified by soil testing and crop nutritional need.

7.0.14 Waste from on-farm slaughter, and the remains of animals that die or are euthanized on farm must be properly composted before it is applied to pasture.

7.0.15 Fish fertilizers must come from sustainable sources.

7.0.16 After the application of fish fertilizer, the composted remains of animals that die or are euthanized on farm or slaughter waste to pasture there must be an interval of at least one month, or until all visible signs of the application have disappeared (whichever is longer), before animals graze the land.

Note: Permission may be granted to graze the land prior to one month after application of composted animal remains, slaughter waste or fish fertilizer if it can be demonstrated that animals will not be exposed to any trace of the fertilizer.

7.0.17 Recommended Manures and fertilizers that can have a negative effect on soil microbial life and/or which contain heavy metals should be avoided.

7.0.18 Water sources on the farm must be managed and maintained to prevent environmental pollution.

7.0.19 Land must be managed to avoid erosion.

Note: AWA understands that even with the best management some erosion due to the activities of pasture based livestock may occur. This standard is scored against the steps farmers take to try to avoid and/or minimize erosion risks rather than the presence or absence of erosion on the farm. A complete absence of any erosion is desirable – but it is accepted that it may not always be possible.

7.0.20 Pastures must not be degraded by overgrazing and/or other management techniques.

7.0.21 Non-point pollution and other local environmental standards must be met.

7.0.22 Pasture areas on which animals have been out-wintered or that are otherwise worn out or denuded must be restored.

7.1 Pasture for sheep

7.1.1 The activity of the animals must not cause more than 20% of the pasture area they are kept on to be denuded.

7.1.2 Sheep and pastures must be managed to avoid the risk of bloat.

7.2, 7.3 & 7.4 Not allocated

7.5 Exclusion from pasture

Animals who have been properly selected for the specific climate conditions will voluntarily choose to go outdoors in all but the most extreme weather. However when exclusion is in the best interest of the animal the standards in the following section and those in section 8 must be met.

7.5.1 Animals may only be removed from pasture and housed in an emergency situation or extreme weather conditions, when their welfare would otherwise be affected.

7.5.2 Animals may only be housed with no management plan and no pasture access in an emergency situation and to a maximum of up to 28 days.

7.5.3 If local conditions mean that there will be a planned removal of animals from pasture for any length of time or in an emergency where removal from pasture exceeds 28 days, the farmer must put into place a plan for animal management. It must include: Triggers for housing such as temperature, precipitation or soil condition. Space available to each housed animal. Facilities available to house the animals. These must include lying areas, loafing areas, feeding areas and space to enable animals to fulfill their behavioral needs. Triggers for animals to be returned to pasture.

Note: It is not acceptable to use a particular date during the year as a trigger for either housing or return to pasture. Triggers should relate to the identified risk to the welfare of the animals under particular climatic or environmental scenarios.


Shelter may be provided by natural features such as shade, trees, or by buildings. Housing may also be used as shelter.

8.0.1 In climatic regions where their welfare may be negatively impacted, animals must have continuous access as required to housing or shelter that protects them from weather extremes, including high winds, sleet and heavy snows, and sun.

8.0.2 Not allocated.

8.0.3 In extreme weather there must be a means to feed and water animals in a sheltered environment.

8.0.4 Shelters and housing must be positioned away from areas of run off or potential run off.

8.0.5 Shelters and housing must be well ventilated and allow fresh air to enter.

8.0.6 Shelters and housing must allow natural light to enter.

8.0.7 Animals must not be subjected to dim and/or continuous lighting or kept in permanent darkness.

8.0.8 In the daytime, the animals must always be able to see each other, their food and water sources, as well as their surroundings clearly.

8.0.9 Use of artificial light is permitted as long as it does not exceed a maximum day-length of 16 hours.

8.0.10 Artificial light must be distributed evenly.

8.0.11 Shelters and housing must have solid floors.

Note: Floors may be natural – the surface of the ground or pasture – or artificial. An area of wire or slat under a drinker will be deemed drainage not a floor. Standard 8.0.11 does not apply to range, pasture or forage area, unless the area is covered by a house or designated as a shelter area.

8.0.12 Animals at all times must have an area available that provides dry footing so they are not forced to stand in mud or manure.

8.0.13 Inspection of animals must be possible at any time day or night.

8.0.14 Manure must be removed from housing or shelters on a regular basis.

8.0.15 The house or shelter must be managed to eliminate ammonia, dampness and mold.

Note: The human nose can detect ammonia at levels of 5ppm upwards. If the farmer can smell ammonia action must be taken to eliminate the source.

8.0.16 Liquefaction of manure and liquefied manure handling systems are prohibited.

8.0.17 Close confinement in crates or tethering is prohibited (see 8.0.18).

8.0.18 Temporary close confinement or tying up (tethering), which may be required for vaccination, weighing, feeding, marking or veterinary procedures, is permitted. This must be noted in the farm plan or recorded at the time.

8.0.19 Accommodations must be constructed so that they can be easily and effectively cleaned.

8.0.20 Maintenance and housekeeping routines must be in place to minimize any potential problems from rats or mice.

8.1 Housing and shelter for sheep

Space allowances for housing and shelter have been set to allow all animals to move around freely and have sufficient space to lie down allowing for the behavioral structure of the flock.

8.1.1 The following space allowances are required in housing or shelter

Minimum indoor bedded lying area:

Sheep (ram/ewe) 16 sq. feet 1.5 sq. meters
Lambs 4 sq. feet 0.4 sq. meters
Ewe with one lamb 22 sq. feet 2.0 sq. meters
Any additional lamb 4 sq. feet 0.4 sq. meters

Minimum additional loafing area

Adult sheep 27 sq. feet 2.5 sq. meters
Lambs 5.4 sq. feet 0.5 sq. meters
Ewe with one lamb 33 sq. feet 3.0 sq. meters
Any additional lamb 5.4 sq. feet 0.5 sq. meters

8.2 Housing for male breeding animals

8.2.1 Recommended Male breeding animals should be kept with the main flock, with at least one other compatible animal or have nose to nose contact with other animals of the same species.

8.2.2 Male breeding animals temporarily off pasture must be kept in housing or shelter that meets the space requirements in standard 8.1.1.

8.3 Bedding

8.3.1 In housing, bedding must be available to animals at all times.

8.3.2 Not allocated.

8.3.3 Bedding must be clean, dry, mold-free and replenished as needed.

8.3.4 Bedding must not cause discomfort or harm to the animals. Particular attention must be paid if sand is chosen as bedding.

8.3.5 Recommended Bedding with straw or cornstover is preferred.

8.3.6 Bedding from timber-based products sourced from chemically treated wood is prohibited.

8.3.7 There must be enough bedding to ensure the comfort of all animals.

8.3.8 In cold temperatures heat must be provided as necessary to keep animals comfortable.


9.0.1 These standards only apply to animals that the approved farmer retains ownership of when they are moved off the approved farm.

9.0.2 When Animal Welfare Approved livestock are removed from the approved farm they must be kept to Animal Welfare Approved standards until such time they leave the ownership of the approved farm or farmer.

9.0.3 There must be a separate and specific plan for maintaining animal health and welfare, transport, biosecurity and continued compliance with the Animal Welfare Approved standards while animals are removed from the approved farm. (see also 3.0.4).

9.1 Routine use of land that is not controlled by the approved farm

Animal Welfare Approved recognizes that the approved farm may routinely need to send animals off-farm to access grazing or for other management reasons. Animal Welfare Approved retains the right to audit these off-farm sites. Please see the standards below for guidance.

9.1.1 If the approved farm has any compliance issues other than record keeping and farm plans the off-farm animals must be audited before approval can be granted or renewed.

9.1.2 If animals are removed from the main approved farm for five months or more in any calendar year the off-farm animals must be audited before approval can be granted or renewed.

9.1.3 If 25% or fewer of the total animals owned are off the approved farm for less than five months in any calendar year and the main farm audit has no animal based compliance issues the off farm animals may not need to be audited.

9.2 Temporary removal of approved animals from the approved farm

9.2.1 Animal Welfare Approved livestock will only retain their status when temporarily removed from the approved farm for the following reasons: Male animals used for breeding. Female animals taken to be naturally served. Movement of animals in an emergency. Movement of animals prepared for showing. Movement of animals for up to 24 hours for routine management practices.

Note: This could include movement for shearing, foot care or other similar practices.

9.2.2 Not allocated.

9.2.3 Animals taken to shows do not have to meet pasture access standards as long as they are only off the approved farm for a maximum of five days.

9.2.4 If Animal Welfare Approved breeding animals are hired or taken to farmers that are not Animal Welfare Approved the approved farm must ensure that the farm they are transferring the animals to is aware of the relevant standards for management and can meet them.

9.2.5 Showing animals must be conditioned to handling, loading and human contact before movement to a show can be permitted.


10.0.1 All animals must be protected from predators.

10.0.2 If livestock guardian dogs are used their management must meet the Animal Welfare Approved guidelines for guardian or herding canine management. If other guardian animals are used they must be suitable for guardian duties. Guardian animals must be chosen with consideration of their ability to thrive in the prevailing climatic conditions of the farm, in pasture-based, free range, outdoor systems.

10.0.3 In the event that exclusion is unsuccessful and predation remains an issue, live trapping may be used. (Please contact Animal Welfare Approved for guidance).

10.0.4 Live traps must be checked twice daily.

10.0.5 All other forms of traps are prohibited.

10.0.6 All snares and leghold traps are prohibited.

10.0.7 The use of poisons against predators is prohibited.

10.0.8 If live trapping is not possible or is not successful then as a last resort lethal control of specific animals may be carried out when these are causing an immediate threat to farm livestock.

10.0.9 If there is a continuous threat from predators that cannot be managed by live trapping advice must be sought from Animal Welfare Approved regarding a control program.

10.0.10 Lethal control/euthanasia of predators must result in instantaneous irreversible unconsciousness and death.

10.0.11 If a predatory animal has been euthanized to protect the animals on the farm, there must be records kept of the species in question, number of animals, and euthanasia method.

10.0.12 Glue boards for the control of rats and mice are prohibited.

10.0.13 Licensed rodenticides placed such that non-target species have no access to them may be used for the control of rats or mice.

10.0.14 Lethal control/euthanasia of live trapped rodents must result in instantaneous irreversible unconsciousness and death.


This section lists the records and plans that must be maintained on farm and the sections where they can be found. All records and plans must be in a physical form that can be shown to the Animal Welfare Approved auditor. Verbal plans and records are not acceptable

11.0.1 Records of the source, date of purchase, and number of animals in the breeding herd or flock (see also 2.0.5).

11.0.2 Records of a health plan (see also 3.0.4).

11.0.3 Records of the administration of veterinary medical products (see also 3.0.19).

11.0.4 Records of an emergency plan (see also section 4.0).

11.0.5 Records to show compliance with all Animal Welfare Approved standards (see also 5.0.1).

11.0.6 Records of sale or transfer of Animal Welfare Approved animals or products (see also 5.0.2).

11.0.7 Records of mortality, morbidity and culling (see also 5.0.3).

11.0.8 Records of a feeding plan including nutritional regime (see also 6.0.2).

11.0.9 Records of ingredients of feed for each class of stock, proportion of the constituents to the total feed on a dry matter basis, and/or sources of the constituent parts (see also 6.0.3).

11.0.10 Records of a pasture management plan (see also 7.0.7).

11.0.11 Records of a plan of management if there is planned exclusion of animals from pasture for any length of time or emergency or other removal from pasture for more than 28 days (see also 7.5.3).

11.0.12 Records of any close confinement of sheep (see also 8.0.19).

11.0.13 Records of a plan to maintain health and biosecurity of owned animals that are removed from the approved farm (see also 9.0.3).

11.0.14 Records of predatory animals who have been euthanized to protect the animals on the farm (see also 10.0.11).

11.0.15 Records of a plan for transporting animals (see also 13.0.1).

11.0.16 Records of a plan to increase sales to suitable outlets (see also

11.0.17 Records of any lambs weaned prior to the age specified in standard 5.3.13 including reason for early weaning (see also 5.3.17).

Note: For new farmers entering the program a period of 12 months will be provided to put the program plan and documents in place. The Animal Welfare Approved team will be able to assist in this process. The Animal Welfare Approved program will also provide templates for record-keeping upon request.


12.0.1 Efforts must be made to develop positive relationships between the farmer and animals through gentle handling.

12.0.2 All areas accessed by the animals must provide good traction, be well drained and kept clean and free of ice in the wintertime.

12.0.3 The use of hot prods or electric shocks is prohibited.

12.0.4 Abuse or maltreatment of animals is prohibited.

12.0.5 All animals must be moved in a calm and consistent manner. Stress from loud noises and rapid movements must be minimized.

12.0.6 All chutes and other facilities for loading must be designed to minimize stress to the animal and ensure that animals can breathe normally as they proceed through the loading process.

12.0.7 Herding dogs must be well trained.

Note: Farmers who regularly train herding dogs must contact the Animal Welfare Approved office to discuss compliance with the standard above.

12.0.8 If herding dogs are used their management must meet the Animal Welfare Approved guidelines for guardian or herding canine management.

12.0.9 Animals must not be used for sport.

12.0.10 Shearing must be carried out by a competent person who can minimize stress and avoid injury. Any sheep that is accidentally nicked or cut as part of the shearing process must receive appropriate treatment immediately.


This section applies to all transport of animals including to slaughter, around the farm, between farms or delivery to farm.

13.0.1 A plan must exist to ensure that welfare of the animals is maintained during transport both around the farm and off the farm (see also

13.0.2 All animals must be healthy, ambulatory and uninjured to be transported unless they are being transported to receive veterinary treatment.

13.0.3 The person transporting the animals must ensure they are transported without delay to their destination.

13.0.4 A competent individual must take responsibility for ensuring that animals do not suffer any injury or distress at any point immediately before, during and after transport.

13.0.5 All subcontractors, handlers and truckers must adhere to Animal Welfare Approved standards.

13.0.6 If delays during transport or unloading upon arrival at destination are anticipated, loading and transport must not commence until those complications are resolved.

13.0.7 During transport, all animals must be protected from harm and thermal stress.

13.0.8 In the event that any animals suffer injury or distress during transport they must be treated or euthanized as soon as practically possible.

13.0.9 Ventilation must be provided that allows the animals to breathe fresh air while on the transport vehicle.

13.0.10 Overcrowding during transport is prohibited. The following space allowances in transport are required:

Slaughter Weight
Lambs and Sheep
Shorn Full Fleece
60 lbs (27 kg) 2.13 sq. ft (0.20 sq. m) 2.24 sq. ft (0.21 sq. m)
80 lbs (36 kg) 2.50 sq. ft (0.23 sq. m) 2.60 sq. ft (0.24 sq. m)
100 lbs (45 kg) 2.80 sq. ft (0.26 sq. m) 2.95 sq. ft (0.27 sq. m)
120 lbs (54 kg) 3.20 sq. ft (0.30 sq. m) 3.36 sq. ft (0.31 sq. m)

13.0.11 The transportation vehicle must be thoroughly cleaned and dried prior to loading.

13.0.12 All animals must have continuous access to water until the moment of loading.

13.1 Transport of sheep

13.1.1 Transporting downed animals is prohibited.

13.1.2 Recommended Animals should not be transported in isolation.

13.1.3 The transport vehicle must be constructed or bedded to prevent animals slipping.

13.1.4 Injured or lame animals must not be sold at auctions and if sent off farm must go directly to slaughter.

13.1.5 Injured or lame animals who are able to travel must not be sent to slaughter in the same compartment as healthy animals.

13.1.6 Animals from different farms must be separated in transport.

13.1.7 Recommended Animals from different social groups (pens) should be separated in transport.

13.1.8 Transport must not exceed eight hours. Transport of lambs within seven days of weaning must not exceed three hours.

Note: A derogation may be granted if an approved slaughter plant is not available within eight hours travel from the farm.

Transport for the introduction to the farm of breeding stock sourced for genetic improvement is exempt from this standard.

13.1.9 to 13.1.10 Not allocated.

13.1.11 Ewes must not be transported off the farm within four weeks of expected lambing.

Note: Animals close to giving birth may be transported when it is in the best interests of their health and welfare.

13.2 Transport of lambs

13.2.1 Lambs must not be transported around the farm or off the farm until they are at least one week old.

13.2.2 Recommended Lambs should not be transported around the farm or off the farm until they are at least six weeks old.

13.2.3 In an emergency an orphan lamb that cannot be reared on the approved farm may be moved at less than one week old as long as they have already been provided with colostrum.

13.2.4 Not allocated.

13.2.5 Lambs must be fit to travel.

13.3 Sale or change of management of animals.

13.3.1 Recommended All animals should be reared on their farm of birth.

13.3.2 Young stock, feeder or store stock must be sold direct to the farm where they will be raised.

13.3.3 Animals must not be knowingly sold into systems prohibited by these standards.

13.3.4 Routine sale to feedlots is prohibited.

13.3.5 The routine use of stockyards, auction houses and video auctions to sell animals is prohibited.

13.3.6 The Animal Welfare Approved program is a birth to slaughter program. Farmers who do not have any outlets for their animals that are acceptable to the Animal Welfare Approved program may still be eligible for approval if they have a plan to develop suitable outlets and can demonstrate year on year progress towards selling all stock through suitable outlets.

Note: Farmers that may come under this standard include:

  • Farms selling store and feeder stock to non-approved farms and other outlets.
  • Farms selling breeding stock to non-approved farms and other outlets.
  • Farms selling animals as pets, for 4H or FFA and showing.

13.3.7 Not allocated.

13.3.8 Animals ready for slaughter under the Animal Welfare Approved label or logo must only be sold to customers who will take them to Animal Welfare Approved slaughter plants.

13.3.9 Recommended Animal Welfare Approved recommends that even if animals or animal products are not sold under the label or logo they are sold to other Animal Welfare Approved farms and slaughtered at Animal Welfare Approved slaughter plants.

Animal Welfare Approved recognizes that it may be very difficult for farms to market all their stock as finished animals or to find acceptable markets for animals that are not being reared to slaughter on the approved farm.

Animal Welfare Approved will work with farms entering the program to develop a plan and timescale to end the practice of sale through unsuitable outlets.

Please contact us for further information on meeting the standards on sale of animals.


14.0.1 Recommended On-farm slaughter is recommended.

Note: On-farm mobile slaughter is not readily available. It is the goal of the Animal Welfare Approved program to make this process more widely available and acceptable for USDA-approved programs.

Farms carrying out on-farm slaughter must have their slaughter process reviewed. Please refer to the online AWA Policy Manual section p2.6

14.0.2 Not allocated.

14.0.3 Slaughterhouses receiving animals in the Animal Welfare Approved program, or the process of slaughtering on-farm, must pass a review by the Animal Welfare Approved program for pre-slaughter handling, stunning, and killing.

14.0.4 Recommended The person delivering the animals to slaughter should stay with them to ensure that they are slaughtered according to Animal Welfare Approved guidelines in 14.0.3.

14.0.5 Downed animals must be euthanized where they lie in a manner that renders them immediately insensible to pain.

Note: Please contact Animal Welfare Approved if further information on appropriate methods of euthanasia is required.

14.0.6 Meat from downed animals must not be sold or carry the Animal Welfare Approved seal.


15.0.1 The Animal Welfare Approved program must be informed immediately of any changes on farm that could result in a deviation from the standards.

Note: The farmer must inform the Animal Welfare Approved program if they change slaughter plant from that which is listed on their certificate – even if the change is to another plant that has been reviewed and recommended by AWA.

15.0.2 Temporary deviations will be taken into consideration when unexpected circumstances that are not under the control of the farmer arise.

15.0.3 All other deviations from the Animal Welfare Approved standards can be cause for reconsideration of the farmer’s participation or removal from the Animal Welfare Approved program and use of its seal, in conjunction with that farmer’s products.

15.0.4 A complaints record relating to complaints about AWA certified livestock or products must be maintained and be available at annual inspection. The record must list both the complaint and the action taken by the farm.

Note: AWA is accredited to ISO 17065 and it is a requirement of our certification that farms within the program maintain a record in the rare event that any complaint is made. AWA does not expect that farms in the program will receive complaints about their certified livestock or products, but if any are received they must be recorded along with the response from the farm.

15.1 Derogations

15.1.1 If, in the opinion of the Animal Welfare Approved Standards Board, a system meets all of the principles of the program but does not pass a specific standard or standards, derogation may be granted.

15.1.2 In order for a derogation to be granted, an inspection report must be submitted stating the deviation from the published standard, the reason for this deviation, the length of time this deviation from standards will occur and the welfare outcome should the derogation be granted.