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Animal welfare on farms

Australian livestock farmers are dedicated to the humane treatment of the animals in their care. Initiatives such as the Livestock Production Assurance program demonstrate this commitment to best practice animal welfare.

Australian livestock farmers care about their animals. The reality is that healthy and content livestock are fundamental to the success and sustainability of every farm. Ensuring good animal health and welfare means farmers:

  • Keep livestock calm with low-stress handling
  • Provide pain mitigation during surgical procedures
  • Ensure all livestock are getting the right nutrition, especially when pregnant.

It’s an approach that farmers like David Greig puts into practice as soon as lambs are born:



Which animal welfare regulations must Australian farmers follow?

Australian farmers follow regulations mandated by federal, state and territory animal welfare, environment and planning legislation. In addition, the industry has been proactive in creating new programs and frameworks to support the industry’s commitment to best practice animal health and welfare. 

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines were created to harmonise and streamline livestock welfare legislation across Australia. The standards form the basis for developing and implementing consistent legislation and enforcement across Australia.

The standards include:

  • Ensuring livestock have reasonable access to adequate and appropriate feed and water 
  • Ensuring prompt treatment for sick, injured or diseased livestock 
  • Ensuring pain relief when castrating cattle 
  • Ensuring dogs are under effective control during the handling of livestock. 

Programs such as the  Livestock Production Assurance were developed by the industry to help farmers demonstrate that their on-farm handling of livestock is consistent with these standards. 

Sustainability frameworks were also created to help meet the community’s changing expectations of the Australian red meat industry. The Australian Beef Sustainability Framework was launched in 2017 and The Australian Sheep Sustainability Framework was launched in 2021. These frameworks define sustainable production and track the performance of key priorities, including animal welfare, over time.  

What else is the industry doing to improve animal welfare on farms?

The Australian red meat industry is also focused on improving animal welfare during routine animal husbandry procedures. Taking a ‘replace, relieve and refine’ approach, the highest priority is to replace aversive procedures with stress-free, non-invasive procedures. Examples include using genetics to breed out the poll gene in cattle so that dehorning is no longer required.

If replacing procedures isn’t feasible, second tier research aims to minimise pain of aversive procedures using pain relief

Thirdly, the industry aims to refine existing procedures by applying a less stressful method in a less stressful way. Examples include devices that provide an anaesthetic as well as analgesic to mitigate pain and stress during castration and tail docking.

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