Training is an important aspect of our agricultural plan to ensure that colleagues on farm, and in our supply chain have the skills and knowledge they need to operate sustainable businesses.
Due to the impacts of Covid-19, we have had to think of new ways to continue our training and knowledge sharing activities in 2020:
- Health and welfare including on-farm antibiotic use and awareness of the impact of key disease issues (beef, pork and lamb);
- Online webinars with dairy farmers on mastitis, lameness and calf rearing
- Members of the Morrisons livestock team passed Animal Welfare Officer training through the University of Bristol
- By the end of 2021, Morrisons will also have a specialist Poultry Welfare Officer trained through the University of Bristol
All livestock handlers and lairage operators in our red meat plants have specific training related to their task and will have a Certificate of Conformance (CoC). This is a legal requirement and certificates are issued by the FSA. They also receive in house welfare training with 12 month refresher training. Managers and Senior Technicians have also received additional training through the Bristol University animal welfare course and receive accreditation for the Welfare of Animal at Killing standards (red meat).
We will also launch our ‘Excellence in Stockmanship’ programme in early 2022, for lairage and farm staff.
Marketing and Communications
We are proud of our British heritage and farming links, and work with the industry to help celebrate best practice and the high standards of animal health and welfare in our supply chain. This includes:
- Headline sponsors: FarmingCAN in 2021
- Headline sponsors: #Farm24 since 2017
- Headline sponsors: the British Farming Awards
- Sponsors of The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme since 2015, including groups in Skipton, Garstang, Kendall and Dartmoor
- Sponsors of the Taste of Excellence Awards for British Dairying
- Supporting the BVD Free initiative
We work within our store and online communities to improve customer understanding and awareness of farming and animal health, management and welfare. Initiatives here have included:
- The launch of an online space for our ‘Milk for Farmers’ range including details on how farmers care for their livestock;
- Regular updates to the website, including videos and case studies of our farmers and their farms, and articles detailing our R&D work into topics such as environmental enrichment;
- Case studies on our blog page;
- Running a school and community engagement programme known as ‘Adopt a Farm’ through our store community champions in partnership with the NFU STEMterprise project;
- Bringing farmers into stores to meet our customers and share their stories.
Animal welfare communication
We have also made changes to our online communication so customers have a clear record of our progress in animal health and welfare measures, and plan to further improve this in the future through providing more connection between products and the associated animal welfare policies and reporting.
As well as customer communications, we have also reviewed and improved communications to our 120,000 colleagues regarding our animal health and welfare management. Regular updates are posted on the internal Morrisons colleague dashboard (MyMorri), Colleague Facebook, and internal communications platforms such as Google Currents.
Consumers want to be able to make informed decisions about the food they buy. That’s why we provide clear information about where our products are sourced. There are numerous pieces of legislation which apply to the labelling of meat, fish, fresh produce, honey, olive oil and wine. We adhere to all relevant legal requirements on country of origin labelling and in many cases go further, because we know that this information is valued by our customers. For example, we add voluntary country of origin information on products that contain meat, such as ready meals; “produced in the UK from Thai chicken”.
We clearly label the country of origin of dairy products like milk, cream, butter, cheese and yogurt. This way, it’s easy for customers to be able to identify - and buy - British.
Additionally, our shell eggs packaging designs state clearly what type of housing system they are raised in. We sell milk within our ‘Milk for Farmers’ and organic ranges labelled as having the freedom to graze.
We also only ever use farm names on products where we can trace the origin of the product back to the actual farm where it was produced. We do not use any images on own brand products which would imply a housing or production system that has not been used.
We support the work of the Sustainable Food Trust in establishing a Global Farm Metric which assesses a broader spectrum of welfare, the environment, biodiversity and social capital to determine the sustainability of food products and agricultural practices.
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
We respect and value our relationships with a number of organisations and NGOs to improve the health and welfare of animals and workers in our supply chain. These include:
- Red Tractor (Assured Food Standards)
- RSPCA and RSPCA Assured
- Compassion in World Farming
- World Animal Protection
- Responsible Use of Medicines in Agriculture (RUMA)
- The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
We also engage with a wide number of stakeholders for a variety of matters relating to livestock and agriculture, including the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the National Pig Association (NPA), the Pig Veterinary Association (PVS), the British Veterinary Poultry Association (BVPA), the British Cattle Veterinary Association (BCVA), the Sheep Veterinary Society (SVS), the Cattle Health and Welfare Group (CHAWG) and the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB). We are also members of numerous technical committees for the BRC and IGD and work closely with Red Tractor.
Research and Development
Since the launch of our Farming Programme in 2009, we have worked with academic institutions and agricultural colleges, along with sector experts, to deliver practical research and best practice guidance which we have shared with our supplying farmers. This has included:
- Recommendations on environmental enrichment for pigs in indoor housed systems
- Perching and environmental enrichment study (including quantities and benefits) for broilers
- Behaviour and welfare systems for free-range laying hens
- Reviews of free-farrowing systems for pigs
- Housing the dairy cow (with AHDB Dairy)
- Best practice in rear (laying hens) for keel bone health
Ongoing research includes:
- Objective welfare measures for outcomes monitoring - a literature review and pilot study
- Separate environmental enrichment studies (including quantities and benefits) for laying hens and pigs
- Best practice in rear (calves) for improved productivity in the dairy beef sector
- Vaccination protocols to improve the quality of life of calves in the dairy-beef supply chain
- Best practice for management of Pododermatitis in turkeys