Luxury goods group Kering has published new Animal Welfare Standards in a bid to ensure the humane treatment of animals across the company's supply chains.

The French fashion group, which owns brands including Gucci and Saint Laurent, says the Kering Animal Welfare Standards cover all the species around the world that are part of the group's supply chains. The first phase of the standards also includes detailed requirements for the treatment of cattle, calves, sheep and goats throughout their entire lives, as well as guidelines for abattoirs.

Developed over three years with input from animal welfare experts, farmers and herders, scientists and NGOs, they are based on the latest scientific research as well as legislation, comparative standards, best management practices and guidelines from different sectors.

The Standards are structured in bronze, silver and gold tiers to provide clear guidance on critical compliance, and with the expectation that the group's suppliers will make continuous improvements. 

At the bronze entry level, they reflect minimum requirements, which equal, and in some cases go beyond, European legislation.

At the highest gold level, the standards are setting the bar for "best-in-class" practices that can fundamentally transform the industry. Some of these requirements include: prohibiting feedlots and intensive farming in favour of pasture-rearing for better quality of life; promoting regenerative grazing and avoiding "food competition" with sources of human nutrition, a growing concern given the world's increasing population; strict limitations on transport; ensuring welfare for working farm animals; and prohibiting the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotic treatments, which avoids the unnecessary contribution to the rise of anti-microbial resistance that is threatening human health.

"Improving the welfare of animals must be an imperative for our industry and Kering wants to amplify the focus of attention from a few species to all of the animals, including livestock, within fashion's global supply chains," says Marie-Claire Daveu, chief sustainability officer, Kering.

"We hope for widespread adoption of the standards through collaborating with our suppliers, our peers in luxury, the fashion industry at large, and with the food sector, in these shared supply chains to ultimately shift how we, as a society, treat animals and nature."