Farming

Posted on 06/14/10 in , No Comments

FARM ANIMALS IN AUSTRALIA

 

  • This policy should be read in conjunction with
  • Live Animal Exports and the Export of Animal Products
  • Human Diet and Animals
  • Domestic Saleyards and Abattoirs

 

Background

The largest number of animals affected adversely by humans is animals used in ‘farming’.

Whether it is one of the 11 million male chicks in the egg production industry killed within a few hours of life each year, one of the 488 million six-seven week old meat chickens killed annually or one of the three million five year old sheep sold in the live export industry; the Animal Justice Party is committed to advocate for the well-being and capability realisation of every individual animal. We believe that all animals must be treated with equal care and protection, with none of the dispensation provided for in ‘Guidelines, ‘Codes of Practice’ or other loopholes used by farming ‘industries’ to avoid cruelty charges that they would face if their practices were used on ‘companion’ animals.

The Animal Justice Party stands by the technical knowledge and sound science that supports a plant-based diet for humans. Such a diet is best for human health, would be a major factor in reducing famine and starvation, would have a formidable impact to improve the environment and, of course, would virtually eliminate distress and suffering for farm animals.

The issues

The real issue generally is the global demand for animal products and the monetary benefits that accompany continual returns from these products. This global trade and the need to stay competitive have made profitability the master over animal well being.

‘Livestock products’ account for 50% of the gross value of all of Australia’s agricultural products; mainly beef and veal, wool, sheep meats and dairy products. Pigs and poultry are smaller contributors.  [1]

In relation to the gross value of farm production, in the  financial year of 2008/2009, livestock slaughter accounted for $13.26 billion, livestock products accounted for $6.5 billion.  [2]

Number of common livestock slaughtered in the financial year of 2009/2010

Cattle and Calves                            8.4 million

Cattle Exported                               906 000

Sheep                                                 7.333 million

Lambs                                                19.478 million

Sheep Exported live                       3.055 million

Pigs                                                     4.569 million

Poultry Meat                                   466 million  [3]

 

These figures do not present  the full picture, there still is the farming of rabbits, ducks, alpacas, emu, buffalo, aquaponics and goats  to name a few.

For meat chickens (broilers) this involves housing in large closed sheds on litter and later this method was adopted for turkeys and ducks. For egg laying hens this involves small wire, including the floor, (battery) cages, often multi-tiered, in enclosed sheds. For pigs – small pens made of metal with concrete flooring and often housing pregnant sows in ‘sow stalls’ which are only marginally more in size than the animal’s body itself. After sows have given birth, they are moved to even smaller pens known as ‘farrowing crates’ until their piglets are weaned. Where government have failed to adequately the issue of sow stalls, the larger supermarkets are beginning to ‘up the ante’ to ban the use of sow stalls. The issue of farrowing crates, however, remains unaddressed, and even if sow stalls are phased out or banned, the sows may be free range, but this does not mean the piglets will be.

 

In the last thirty years there has been a gradual increase in ‘feedlots’ for cattle where they are kept in outside pens at high stocking density to be ‘fattened up’ for ‘marbled’ meat over a six – twelve month period before slaughter.

Dairies are now becoming more intensive where cows can be housed in sheds on sawdust only 50 metres from the milking sheds where sometimes, with high energy yield feed, they can be milked up to three times a day.

The Five Freedoms

Over concern about the way intensive (factory) ‘farming’ adversely impacts upon the well being and welfare of each individual animal in such establishments the Brambell Committee of the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council developed a list of five freedoms which all animals these animals have a right, supported by most  animal protection organizations around the world including advisory councils such as the Farm Animal Welfare Council which advises the EU and British Parliaments.

They are:

  1. Freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition – by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour.
  2. Freedom from discomfort – by providing a suitable environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area.
  3. Freedom from pain, injury and disease – by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  4. Freedom to express normal behaviour – by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animals own kind.
  5. Freedom from fear and distress – by ensuring conditions that avoid mental suffering.

The Animal Justice Party supports these five freedoms and believes that these must also apply to the transport, handling during transport, lairage and slaughter of animals. While slaughter of animals for food remains lawful, animals that can not be killed by gunshot or captive bolt stunning ‘on farm’ must be transported the shortest distance possible to the abattoir.

The AJP totally opposes live export and the slaughter of animals without pre-stunning for any reason including religious ritual beliefs.

Mutilations of farm animals

Also of importance,  is the institutionalisation of a range of mutilations upon animals, mostly undertaken without administering pain relief.

These mutilations include tail docking, castration, branding, ear marking, teeth clipping, de-horning and mulesing.

The AJP will opose any unnessary mutilation. If a procedure is to be proven necessary for the animal’s welfare but not as a consequence of ‘convenience’ or claimed financial imperatives – then a schedule addressing adequate pain relief must be mandatory.

Transport of farm animals

Animals must only be transported if absolutely necessay. They must be transported the minimum distance required and with skilled stock people and with the most minimum stress. The AJP support European initiatives of an 8 hour upper limit on any journey, and restrictions on the climatic conditions under which animals can be transported.

They must be watered and cooled regualrly in longer distance transport.

There some  issues which are common amoungst most animals. Due to Australia’s vast regional and pastoral areas there are large distances for live animals to be transported to markets and abattoirs. This leads to specific welfare issues in regards to handling and transportation of live animals.

The Animal Justice Party absolutely  opposes the transport of bobby calves (around 5 days old but often younger)  without appropriate liquid feed for the proposed 30 hours . The AJP will lobby strongly to significantly improve regulations overseeing transport.

Australia’s extreme weather conditions expose animals to drought and famine due to lack of food and water. The AJP will lobby assertively to shift the ‘mind set’ set of ‘laissez faire farming’ where animals can be left to fend for themselves which can cause large scale suffering and aggravated cruelty.

The AJP will reiterate the positive duty of care that is incumbent upon anyone who has animals under their care – no matter what number or species. If the appropriate food and water cannot  possibly be supplied, it is the farmers’ duty to effectively, humanely and swiftly euthanase suffering animals. To allow animals to slowly die from starvation and dehydration is against the law. The AJP will advocate for  tougher laws and enforcement on this issue and support any public awareness programs.

Codes of Practice

The Animal Justice Party completely opposes Codes of Practice, or any part thereof, being incorporated into any legislation as a regulation or similar. They should only be as ‘reference’ to assist the courts, government and animal industries to understand certain practices which are occurring and may currently be accepted. It is to be noted that such documents represent MINIMUM standards, and compliance with them must not be able to form the basis of a defence against cruelty charges.

However, fast growing technical veterinary science is revealing that some ‘accepted’ practices are detrimental to an animal’s welfare (for example sow stalls, farrowing crates, battery cages, feedlots) and are therefore inimical to the relevant cruelty laws. If a code is incprorated into  regulation it is far more difficult to argue a practice is in breach of an Act protecting animals because of ‘the presumption of regularity’ in law.

Administration of welfare for farm animals

Under the Australian Constitution, individual jurisdictions (States and Territories) have the primary role in formulation and administration of welfare regulations within their borders.

The success of any reform initiatives in animal welfare standards and regulation systems for farm animals is heavily dependent on their passage through the Primary Industries Ministerial Council and subsequently, the level of commitment passed by State and Territory Ministers (primary industries ministers in the most) and finally the conversion of policy decisions into Regulation.

The AJP opposes the portfolio of animal welfare being in the departments of agriculture or primary industries or any department where one of the central functions is to protect the interests of animal use industries. This is clearly a gross conflict of interest. The AJP will therefore vigorously lobby to establish an appropriately resourced animal welfare portfolio with ministerial responsibility.

Intensive (Factory) ‘farming’

The AJP completely opposes the intensive (factory) housing of animals where many of their natural behavioural, social and grazing / feeding needs are severely compromised leading to very severe adverse impacts on their welfare and well being.

This opposition also applies to ‘semi’ intensive systems where animals will be at some stage housed intensively. It is understood that some farm animals will require protection from the elements of the foreign Australian environment – eg. white pigs requiring shelter in the main from the sun for most of the year but this does not sanction intensive housing.

It is a difficult task to separately describe the procedures applied to all different farm animals in Australia including cattle (meat and dairy), sheep, pigs and poultry and others.  However it is important to recognise and appreciate the suffering of every individual farm animal. Through the following  example of cattle raised for meat, it is possible to extrapolate similar invasive mutilations, treatment and experiences to  other species.

Cattle (meat)

In 1788 the first fleet arrived in Sydney with 2 bulls, 6 cows that had been purchased in South Africa. [4]

In the 2009 financial year, beef cattle numbered 24.78 million. [5] Cattle Farming today exposes millions of animals to mutilations, with virtually no pain relief.. From the earliest days after birth, calves are marked or identified. They are then dehorned and disbudded after which they are castrated or spayed, all  before 6 months of age with no pain relief. By 8 to 10 months, calves are weaned from their mothers.

Marking and Identification

Marking and identification is required to track an animal from birth to slaughter. Some techniques used are hot iron branding and ear mutilation.

The AJP will endorse and promote the use of painless microchips that better serve the purpose of identification and tracking.

Dehorning

Bruising is said to cost the Australian beef cattle industry an estimated $20 million yearly. Research has shown the single major cause of bruising is the presence of horns on cattle. [6]

The veterinary Surgeons Act 1986, defines dehorning as “the removal of a horn of an animal by methods which destroys or removes the keratin producing cells and structures at the base of the horn”

The three methods of dehorning that are commonly used are hot iron, knife, spoon or tube.

In all dehorning, once the horn bud attaches to the skull, the horn becomes a bony extension of the skull and the hollow centre of the core opens up directly into the frontal sinuses of the skull. In this situation, the frontal sinuses are opened and the soft membranous covering of the cranium (skull) is often exposed to view. [7]

This is all done with no pain relief and in NSW it is not mandatory until stock animals reach 12 months of age, and can be performed by anyone with appropriate training and supervision (this varies between states).

The AJP takes a strong position on these abhorrent  animal husbandry practice and demands that painless alternatives must all be examined. In this instance, for example, the breeding of polled animals (no horns), should be considered first.

The AJP also believes that all surgical procedures be performed by a veterinarian and that all procedures be conducted under a regime of anaesthetics appropriate to the procedure.

Castration and Spaying

Castration is carried out on young bulls, normally less than 6 months and spaying is carried out on the females (mostly in the Northern Territory).

Castration is performed by three common methods:

  1. Elastrator Rings, The ring is applied above the testicles using an applicator.
  2. Surgical Removal (If this is done under the age of 6 months, pain relief or any form of analgesia is not required.    
  3. Burizzo bloodless castrators. These are  a very large set of blunt-jawed pincers. This procedure is also conducted with no pain management under the age of 6 months.

Spaying

Spaying is conducted to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Used mostly on large stations in the Northern Territory, animals are dispensed over thousands of acres, mustering is an issue. If an animal misses muster all of these painful husbandry practices are done much later than the recommended 6-12 months, where a veterinarian is required to apply pain management, but this is hard to police yet alone enforce even of there were any will demonstrated to do so.

The commonly used spaying technique is called the “Willis dropped ovary” technique. This involves entering the animal via the vaginal region and cutting away at the tissue connecting the ovaries to the abdomen. The ovaries are then left to drop and remain in the cow’s body. This requires a high set of skills and again pain relief is not required.

As noted above the AJP believes that all surgical procedures must be performed by a veterinarian and that all procedures be conducted under a regime of anaesthetics appropriate to the procedure.

Slaughter

While killing animals for food remains lawful the AJP will vigorously lobby to ensure farm animals are killed as close as possible to the point of their origin and not forced to travel long distances and put through the rigours of sale yards.

Effective stunning must be mandatory in 100% of cases and animals must be treated with respect and handled gently through lairage beforehand. They must not see or hear animals killed before them.

AJP completely opposes slaughter without pre stunning rendering the animal insensible to pain before complete unconsciousness and death upon ex-sanguination.

AJP will lobby assertively to outlaw any slaughter in any abattoir that permits post ‘stick’ stunning or no stunning at all.

[1] Department of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries. Co-Regulatory Approach to farm animal welfare in Australia. (Robin Vandergraff).

[1] ABARE. Australian Govt. Australian Commodity Statistics 2009

[1] Department of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries. Food Statistics 2009

[1] Department of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries. Co-Regulatory Approach to farm animal welfare in Australia. (Robin Vandergraff).

[1] Department of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries. Co-Regulatory Approach to farm animal welfare in Australia. (Robin Vandergraff).

[1] Meat and Livestock Australia. Beef cattle in Australia

[1] ABARE. Australian Govt. Australian Commodity Statistics 2009

 

[1] Department of primary industries; Cattle, http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au

[1] Department of primary industries, NSW; Cattle, http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au

[1] Department of primary industries, NSW; Agfact AO.2.6, December 2004

 



[1] Department of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries. Co-Regulatory Approach to farm animal welfare in Australia. (Robin Vandergraff).

[2] ABARE. Australian Govt. Australian Commodity Statistics 2009

[3] Department of Agriculture, Forests and Fisheries. Food Statistics 2009

[4] Meat and Livestock Australia. Beef cattle in Australia

[5] ABARE. Australian Govt. Australian Commodity Statistics 2009

 

[6] Department of primary industries; Cattle, http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au

[7] Department of primary industries, NSW; Cattle, http://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au