Every HowGood standard for determining a food's rating is analyzed on a spectrum. The Livestock spectrum measures both the ethical and the ecological footprint of animal husbandry operations. The behaviors and requirements of each species, and even each breed, vary greatly. For a given animal product, HowGood seeks to understand the animals’ quality of life and the environmental ramifications of their living conditions.
What can you learn about how animals have been treated by looking at a product's HowGood rating?
HowGood upholds strict animal husbandry standards across the board. It is impossible for a food product with animal-derived ingredients to receive HowGood’s BEST rating without receiving top marks on the Livestock spectrum. To meet our animal husbandry standards, livestock must be pasture-raised. For meat products, they must be pasture-finished, though some feed supplementation is allowed.
Additionally, the farm must have enough space to accommodate the number of animals they are managing. If animal density per acre precludes the possibility of a forage-based diet, the product will not receive our highest standard for livestock. HowGood’s animal husbandry standards align with GAP 4+ animal welfare rating, Certified Humane: Pasture Raised, Animal Welfare Approved, and other equivalent certifications.
Impacts of factory farming: why humane animal treatment matters.
In the United States, over 99% of all meat and animal-derived products come from concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs). These massive facilities house livestock in high-density conditions that are incredibly stressful, unpleasant, and often painful for the animals. With anywhere from several hundred to over a hundred thousand animals confined in cramped quarters, high levels of prophylactic antibiotics are necessary to stave off infection. Water consumption, methane production, and waste elimination from this volume of animals creates significant environmental stresses.
However, the largest negative impact of this factory farming is the feed, the majority of which comes from petrochemical-intensive, synthetic pesticide-reliant, annual monoculture farming. For more on this, see Farming.
The cultivation of animals for food can have tremendous ecological and ethical implications. The best animal husbandry scenario for the planet and for the animals is 100% grass-fed and finished livestock operation, where the animals are fully integrated into a diversified regenerative farm, with an integrated array of vegetable and animal products. When animals have unrestricted access to pasture in a management-intensive grazing operation, their quality of life is not only greatly improved, but their presence plays a vital role in the farm’s productivity, increasing organic matter and soil fertility, improving water infiltration and retention, reducing erosion, and more.
Through our strict animal husbandry standards, HowGood seeks to endorse humane and regenerative practices that are beneficial to both the animal and the farmer.