Red Tractor Standards Revised

The UK’s largest and most comprehensive food assurance scheme, Red Tractor (RT), has recently revised its farm standards following a consultation held amongst some 46,000 members along with the entire food supply chain. The new standards are set to take effect from November this year and aim to streamline the existing standards and comply with new legislation, as well provide farmers and the supply chain with manageable standards going forward.


The food and farming scheme has put into a place an abundance of key changes for all sectors as outlined below.

  • NEW FOR ALL SECTORS All farms with employees must have a written Health and Safety policy.  Given high fatality figures in the industry RT believes it is essential to check policies are in place and communicated to workers.

Combinable Crops & Sugar Beet:

  • REMOVED A requirement to leave livestock buildings for five weeks between cleaning them and using them to store grain.
  • SIMPLIFIED Grain trailer ID needs to be clearly identifiable and on at least the rear and one side of the trailer, rather than all three sides as currently required. Trailer ID is only necessary when transporting your grain into a third-party intake.
  • REVISED Many of the requirements of vermin control standards align with the Campaign for Responsible Rodenticide Use (CRRU) Code of Practice which aims to minimise the exposure of wildlife to toxic rodenticides. This means that RT members can continue to buy rodenticide that they would otherwise be prohibited from purchasing without completing additional training.
  • CLARIFIED Moisture meter calibration can be carried out on farm using reference samples.

Fresh Produce:                     

  • REVISED Strengthened and upgraded approach to field/production site risk assessment to better manage risks from historic and adjacent activities.
  • NEW Protected Cropping section introduced with content relevant to established, protected growing environments (e.g. greenhouse) and new crop production systems (e.g. vertical farms).
  • REVISED Strengthened and consistent expectations for pesticide residue testing.
  • NEW Record keeping systems for introduction of biological controls.

Beef & Lamb:

  • NEW Tethered housing systems, for stock of any age, will not be permitted on RT Farms. In the short term, derogations will be offered, and visits will be made to the small number of members still tethering their cattle.
  • NEW Farms will be asked how they are taking action to eradicate bovine viral diarrhoea (BVD). This needs to be documented in a health plan and implemented. This new recommendation will become a full standard from October 2022, allowing members a lead time for a change in system or testing routine, where necessary to control endemic disease.
  • NEW Efficient and meaningful health planning builds on management techniques for continuous improvement and encourages a move to a proactive management system. The health plan now needs to be signed, dated and reviewed annually by a nominated vet who should visit the farm at least once a year.
  • UPGRADED At least one person on farm must have undertaken medicine training to help raise awareness of antimicrobial resistance and drive medicine use best practice.


  • NEW Tethered housing systems, for stock of any age, will not be permitted on RT Farms. In the short term, derogations will be offered, and visits will be made to the small number of members still tethering their cattle.
  • NEW In 2020RT consulted on proposed standards to ensure the industry delivers on a commitment to eliminate the routine euthanasia of calves by 2023. A new standard is focused on a written breeding and management policy.
  • NEW Efficient and meaningful health planning encourages a move to a proactive management system. A health plan now needs to be signed, dated and reviewed annually by a nominated vet, who should visit the farm at least once a year.


  • NEW All units must put measures in place to minimise the risk of tail biting and avoid the need for tail docking. This includes an annual risk assessment on all units and an action plan on farms rearing docked pigs. Anyone carrying out docking needs to have evidence to support the continued need, including a detailed quarterly veterinary review. Monitoring health and performance is key to ensuring oversight of pig health and welfare.
  • UPGRADED RT’s enrichment standard, in line with Defra’s Code of Practice, to require specific combinations of enrichment materials and objects.
  • REVISED Stock personnel need to be robustly trained on pig euthanasia to ensure best practice is maintained. Initial euthanasia training must now be carried out by a vet or via a Humane Slaughter Association course.
  • NEW Anyone involved with the care of pigs must now complete online pig welfare training in key areas including best practice around moving and handling pigs to ensure consistent training so that all pigs are always treated compassionately.
  • NEW At least one person on every farm must undertake training in the responsible use of medicines. Where a farm is identified as persistently using high amounts of antibiotics, they must now develop and implement an action plan with their vet to reduce antibiotic use.
  • NEW When there is an outbreak of disease, it can be useful if nearby farms are made aware so they can tighten their biosecurity. To facilitate this, members must sign up to the Significant Diseases Charter and report disease outbreaks.


  • REVISED Updating RT’s standards with best practice, on all grower unit’s, enrichment now needs to be provided and evenly placed in the shed by day 3 at the latest rather than day 7 as currently.
  • REVISED The free range and enhanced welfare standards require only slower-growing breeds – the list of acceptable breeds has been updated in line with current research. This means RT can give a guarantee to consumers that only slower growing breeds are used in their free-range standards as growth rates are better suited to this production system.
  • REVISED To meet customer and consumer expectations, all broiler, poussin, and free-range units must meet the minimum standard of windows at 3% of the floor area by October 2023.
  • UPGRADED A heat stress policy must be demonstrably implemented on the farm. Heat stress continues to have a significant impact on bird mortality.
  • NEW There are a number of changes for hatchery eggs to align with turkeys and ducks, including fumigating and sanitising eggs prior to setting, temperature and humidity-controlled storage rooms and records of checks, improved egg traceability and transport of eggs and chicks.
  • UPGRADED RT are strengthening their standards on Mycoplasmatesting for breeder layers. Testing is in line with the Poultry Health Scheme requirements, testing records for Mycoplasma gallisepticum and Mycoplasma synoviae must be retained to ensure bird welfare and the prevention of disease.
  • NEW The turnaround times between flocks on farm must now be no less than 5 calendar days. This will ensure that farms have enough time between flocks to clean and disinfect houses between new flocks arriving.

In response to the consultation RT feels it has developed the right standards to progress the agricultural industry, while balancing the needs of farmers with the evolving demands of shoppers and the supply chain. They aim to deliver even greater market access for farmer members with minimal impact on audit burden through their revised standards. While price and food quality remain key priorities for consumers, traceable, safe food which is farmed with care holds essential to the long-term sustainability of the UK food supply chain

For more information, please visit Red Tractor’s website or enquire by email at