Our mission: To protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.

The standards incorporate current research in animal welfare science with practical protocols, as developed by an expert panel of animal welfare scientists, veterinarians, and farmers in consultation with the BC SPCA. We currently have standards for certification of beef cattle (includes veal production), dairy cattle, sheep, pigs, turkeys, broiler (meat) chickens and egg-laying chickens.

Tell me more about:

- Use of the 'Five Freedoms' in the SPCA Certified program
- Highlights from the SPCA Certified Standards
- Program Comparisons (e.g. comparing the Codes of Practice and Organic certification to SPCA Certified)
- Standards Comparisons (how does SPCA Certified measure up?)
- Funding sources for the program

Evidence-based, welfare focused

While we acknowledge that it is not possible to prevent animals from experiencing all pain or discomfort in their lives, our Standards strive to provide animals with the following Five Freedoms, which are derived from those first described by the Farm Animal Welfare Council of the U.K.:

1.  Freedom from hunger and thirst
2.  Freedom from pain, injury, and disease
3.  Freedom from distress
4.  Freedom from discomfort
5.  Freedom to express behaviours that promote well-being 

"An animal's welfare is synonymous with its quality of life, and that animal's health and emotions both contribute to their welfare."

Highlights from the Standards

- Egg-laying hens are free from cages;
- Pregnant pigs are free from confinement in gestation stalls and farrowing crates;
- Painful practices like dehorning, mulesing (sheep) and toe clipping (poultry) are prohibited;
- Use of pain medication is required for necessary practices that cause pain;
- Lameness in farm animals is assessed and addressed;
- Animal environments are designed to promote comfort and healthy social interactions;
- Animals are not fed antibiotics, ionophores or hormones for growth enhancement.

    SPCA Certified standards developed to date:

    Egg-laying chickens, broiler (meat) chickens, turkeys, dairy cattle, beef cattle (includes veal production), pigs and sheep. To request your copy, please fill out this brief form.

    Program Comparisons

    Conventional Practices

    The generally the accepted practices for raising farm animals in Canada are known as the Codes of Practice for the care and handling of farm animals (the Codes). The Codes were originally developed by the Canadian Agri-Food Research Council and are now overseen by the National Farm Animal Care Council.

    SPCA Certified standards are intended to complement the Codes of Practice.  All SPCA Certified program members are required to follow federal and provincial law related to environmental and food safety practices.

    Canadian Organic Standards

    The BC SPCA recognizes that farm animal welfare is an issue the organic industry has always taken very seriously. While there are distinct differences between the standards, the Canadian Organic Standards do complement SPCA Certified standards. The BC SPCA supports the organic standards and continues to engage in collaborative efforts with organic associations across Canada.

    In November 2015, the most recently revised Canadian Organic Standards were published. This concluded a two-year revision process in which the BC SPCA played an active role. Click to view a detailed list of animal welfare improvements contained within the 2015 Canadian Organic Standards.

    Click to learn more about the BC SPCA's role in revision of Canada's Standards for farm animals, including the Codes of Practice and Canadian Organic Standards.

    Standards Comparisons

    Compare SPCA Certified to Certified Organic and the Codes of Practice (3-way comparison):

    Compare SPCA Certified standards to the Canadian Codes of Practice (2-way comparison):

    Compare SPCA Certified standards to that of other humane certification programs:


    The BC SPCA is a non-profit charity. The Society relies on charitable donations from the public and grant foundations for the bulk of our funding.



     The Vancouver Foundation was instrumental in providing core financial support during the first phase of the SPCA Certified program's development. The Vancouver Foundation and its donors continue to show their generous support for all of the BC SPCA's welfare work on behalf of all animals.




    For more than a decade, the Animal Welfare Foundation of Canada (AWFC) has been a generous supporter of many of the BC SPCA’s initiatives to help improve the lives of farm animals. The AWFC's funding directly helped in the creation of the SPCA Certified program. The foundation has also supported the development of farm animal welfare standards and practical resources and tools to help farmers evaluate and improve the welfare of the animals they raise.

    printer-friendly version Printer Friendly version

    Imagine Canada Accreditation

    Join the conversation; follow us online: