Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines (Model Codes of Practice)

The states and territories are working to develop and implement nationally consistent animal welfare standards and guidelines.

Standards and guidelines for sheep, cattle, poultry, exhibited animals and for livestock at saleyards and depots are at various stages of development. Industry and community stakeholders are directly involved in the development process.

Current standards and guidelines

Land transport of livestock

Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for the Land Transport of Livestock were developed using the Standards and Guidelines Development Business Plan, and the process was managed by Animal Health Australia.

The Standards were developed from seven Model Codes of Practice and provisions on livestock transport appearing in 13 other codes. They were endorsed by the former Standing Council on Primary Industries in May 2009 and are currently being implemented by the states and territories.

They cover the transport of livestock by road or rail. From an animal welfare perspective, this commences at the time that animals are first deprived of feed and water prior to loading, to the time that livestock have access to water (with the exception of day–old chicks and poultry sent for processing) at the completion of the journey (destination), and includes:

  • mustering and assembly
  • handling and waiting periods prior to loading
  • loading, journey duration, travel conditions, spelling periods
  • unloading and holding time.

The Standards apply to all people responsible for the care and management of livestock involved in the transport of livestock, including agents, transport operators, people on farms, at depots, saleyards, feedlots and processing plants. The Standards apply to the major commercial livestock species:

  • cattle
  • sheep
  • pigs
  • goats
  • poultry (broilers, layers, turkeys, ducks, geese)
  • ratites (emus and ostrich)
  • buffalo
  • deer
  • camels
  • alpacas and
  • horses (including horses used for sport and recreation).

See the Animal Welfare Standards website or the Animal Health Australia website for more information.

Standards and guidelines in development

Cattle

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle are being developed using the principles described in the Standards and Guidelines Development Business Plan, and are being drafted by a writing group with the representatives from the:

  • state and territory governments
  • Cattle Council of Australia
  • Australian Lot Feeders' Association and Dairy Australia
  • CSIRO
  • Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

The group has an independent Chair and is managed by Animal Health Australia.
See Animal Welfare Standards website for more information.

Sheep

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep are being developed using the principles described in the Standards and Guidelines Development Business Plan and are being drafted by a writing group with representatives from the:

  • state and territory governments
  • Sheepmeat Council of Australia and WoolProducers
  • CSIRO
  • Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources.

The group has an independent Chair, and is managed by Animal Health Australia.

See the Animal Welfare Standards website for more information.

Exhibited animals

The development of Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines: Exhibited Animals has been undertaken as a project of the Animals used in Work, Sport, Recreation or on Display Working Group under the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy.

The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries is leading the development of these standards and guidelines and is being assisted by an expert writing group including representatives of the state and territory governments, zoo operators and animal welfare organisations.

Model Codes of Practice

Poultry

The Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Domestic Poultry, 4th Edition (2001) provides producers with guidelines to assist them in understanding the standard of care required, and their obligations under state and territory laws.

Governments have agreed that that standards and guidelines covering Australian livestock are consistent with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) standards.

Pigs

The Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: Pigs, 3rd Edition (2008) was developed by state, territory and Australian government departments with responsibility for agriculture and/or animal welfare, CSIRO, the veterinary profession, industry, researchers, retailers, processors and animal welfare groups. The revised Code was approved by the former Primary Industries Ministerial Council in 2007.

Other codes of practice

See CSIRO Publishing's Primary Industries Report Series.

Freedom of Information request

The department received a request (ref: FOI 2014/15-09) under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) for documents in relation to the development of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep. Documents released under the FOI Act are available on the department's FOI disclosure log.