Animal welfare commitments

Animal welfare commitments

06 December 2022
-Min Read
Livestock health and wellbeing is fundamental to the success and sustainability of every farm – it’s also critical to upholding Australia’s high standards of food safety and quality. Red meat producers have a responsibility to meet their animal welfare obligations for their livestock, consumers, and their enterprises.

Caption: Barb Madden explains why the health and welfare of their animals is the Smithfield Cattle Company’s top priority.

Together with the red meat industry, MLA has implemented a range of programs and initiatives to address concerns and ensure continuous improvement in animal welfare practices. This includes animal welfare requirements within the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program.

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines

The LPA Standards require Accredited Producers to have access to and undertake training on the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines. The Standards and Guidelines cover producers’ responsibilities to their livestock, and set out animal needs in relation to:

  • feed and water
  • risk management in extreme weather, natural disasters, disease, injury and predation
  • facilities and equipment
  • handling and management/husbandry
  • breeding management
  • humane killing.

For cattle, the Standards and Guidelines also cover:

  • castration
  • dehorning and spaying
  • calf rearing systems
  • dairy management
  • beef feedlots.

For sheep, additional chapters address:

  • tail docking and castration
  • mulesing
  • intensive sheep production systems.

The Standards and Guidelines for goats cover both dairy management and intensive goat production systems.

These Standards and Guidelines were developed to harmonise and streamline livestock welfare legislation across Australia with the aim to improve animal welfare while maintaining on-farm practicality.

Animal welfare within LPA

Australia’s red meat consumers, both domestically and internationally, seek reassurance that our livestock are cared for humanely and ethically.

Under LPA, on-farm systems must be implemented to ensure livestock management is consistent with requirements for cattle, sheep and goats set out in the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines. This provides customers with evidence that animals have been treated ethically.

To ensure the management and handling of livestock is consistent with these requirements, livestock producers are required to:

Already common producer practices

Producers across the country already have several practices in place to improve production, profitability and animal welfare outcomes, including:

  • using poll genetics to reduce the need for dehorning
  • breeding management to minimise movement of pregnant animals in their final trimester
  • using overhead draft or improved yard design to reduce the stress on livestock in the yards
  • always allowing livestock a cool-down period between mustering and processing
  • transporting livestock at cooler times of the day, such as early in the morning
  • ensure ear marking pliers are kept well maintained and sharpened before use and ensure ear punches are kept clean and dipped in disinfectant between each animal
  • draft and manage calves, lambs and kids according to sex, size and behaviour – reducing fighting between stock and enabling allocation of small calves, lambs and kids to the best pasture and supplementary feed
  • maintain cows, ewes and does in adequate body condition through good nutritional management.

The implementation of high animal welfare standards supports the sustainability of our industry. Not only are these practices ethical and humane for our livestock, but they also underpin high quality red meat products as assured by our integrity systems.