A Report on the Australian Dairy Industry

January 2015
The Life
of the
Dairy Cow
A REPORT ON THE AUSTRALIAN DAIRY INDUSTRY
This report was reviewed by Voiceless’s Scientific Expert
Advisory Council. It is endorsed by Animals Australia,
Compassion in World Farming and World Animal Protection.
© January 2015
ISBN: 978-0-646-93169-2 (paperback)
ISBN: 978-0-646-93170-8 (online)
Voiceless
2 Paddington Street
Paddington NSW 2021 Australia
T. +612 9357 0723 F. +612 9357 0711
[email protected]
About Voiceless
Voiceless is an independent and non-profit think tank
dedicated to alleviating the suffering of animals in
Australia. Established in 2004 by father and daughter team,
Brian Sherman AM and Ondine Sherman, Voiceless:
• Creates and fosters networks of leading lawyers,
politicians, businesspeople and professionals to
influence law, policy, business and public opinion;
• Conducts quality research on animal industries,
exposing legalised cruelty and informing debate;
• Creates a groundswell for social change by fortifying
the Australian animal protection movement with select
Grants and Prizes;
• Grows animal law as a mainstream practice area to
advocate for change in the courts and in legislation;
and
• Informs consumers and empowers them to make
animal-friendly choices.
Patrons
• Professor J.M. Coetzee
Nobel Prize for Literature Winner 2003, author of
The Lives of Animals and Elizabeth Costello
• Brian Sherman AM
Businessman and philanthropist
• Dr Jane Goodall
World-renowned primatologist and animal advocate
• The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG
Former Justice of the High Court of Australia
Scientific Expert Advisory Council
• Professor Marc Bekoff
Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology,
University of Colorado, Boulder. Co-founder with Jane
Goodall of Ethologists for the Ethical Treatment of
Animals.
• Professor Clive Phillips
Foundation Chair of Animal Welfare, Centre for Animal
Welfare and Ethics, University of Queensland.
• Professor Lesley J. Rogers
Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience and Animal
Behaviour, University of New England.
• Professor Bernard E. Rollin
University Distinguished Professor, University
Bioethicist, Professor of Philosophy, Animal Sciences
and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University.
• Professor A.J. Webster
Emeritus Professor of Animal Husbandry, University
of Bristol. Former Head of the University of Bristol
University’s Veterinary School.
Ambassadors
Hugo Weaving, Abbie Cornish and Emily Barclay
Contents
2
Disclaimer: Voiceless Limited ACN 108 494 631 (‘Voiceless’) is a company limited by guarantee. Voiceless is not a legal practice and does not give legal advice to
individuals or organisations. The information contained in this report is current as of November 2014. While Voiceless has made every effort to ensure the accuracy
of information, including images, presented in this report, Voiceless does not guarantee the accuracy or completeness of that information. Information is provided
by Voiceless as general information only and any use of or reliance on it should only be undertaken on a strictly voluntary basis after an independent review by a
qualified legal practitioner (or other expert). Voiceless is not responsible for, and disclaims all liability for, any loss or damage arising out of the use of or reliance on
this report. This report is protected by copyright and no part of it should be reproduced in any form without the consent of Voiceless. To learn more about Voiceless,
please visit www.voiceless.org.au
Foreword
2
Executive Summary
3
1.Background
5
1.1Introduction
6
1.2 A Snapshot of the Australian Dairy Industry
12
1.3 Regulating the Welfare of Dairy Cows
15
2. Mother and Calf
19
2.1 Mother–Calf Separation
20
2.2 Bobby Calves
25
3. Husbandry Practices
33
3.1 Disbudding and Dehorning
34
3.2 Tail Docking
39
3.3 Calving Induction
42
4. Injuries and Disease
48
4.1Lameness
49
4.2Mastitis
53
5. Live Exports
57
6. Changing Industry and Attitudes
66
6.1 The Role of Consumers
67
6.2 The Need for Reform
69
6.3Conclusion
74
List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
75
Appendix 1: Key welfare concerns in the Cattle Code and Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines 76
Appendix 2: How Australian jurisdictions have adopted the Cattle Code
78
Appendix 3: Regulation of key welfare concerns in dairy producing Australian jurisdictions
80
References
82
1
Foreword
Like most Australians, I grew up
with pretty pictures of story-book
cows cavorting in open green fields.
Happy dairy cows living an idyllic
life, welcoming their daily milking.
When my father Brian and I founded Voiceless a decade ago
in 2004, the dairy industry wasn’t one we considered a top
priority; we were glad dairy cows, compared to the longsuffering chickens and pigs, were faring well.
In our view, the dairy industry has done a superb job in creating
and maintaining a fantasy. But now, with the facts studied and
scientific research examined, our eyes have been opened.
Voiceless’s in-depth report exposes the sad reality of an
industry where the suffering of dairy cows and their almost
800,000 calves is common and accepted.
Through a rigorous analysis of current scientific knowledge
on the health and welfare of cows and calves, as well as an
examination of relevant law and legislation and the gaps in
current Codes of Practice, this report recommends ways in
which to address key cruelty issues.
Voiceless is committed to lifting the veil of secrecy and this
report, we believe, will be the first step to creating change.
However, change relies on co-operation between farmer,
industry, advocate, consumer and government, to not simply
accept the status quo but have the courage to recognise that
change is urgently needed.
2
This report would not have been possible without the
invaluable insights and dedication of contributing author and
Voiceless Council member, Dr Deidre Wicks. An academic
and author, Deidre is an Honorary Research Associate at
Newcastle University, Australia, an Honorary Research Fellow
at the National University of Ireland, Galway and has a PhD in
Sociology from Macquarie University.
We would also like to thank the eminent members of our
international Scientific Expert Advisory Council who reviewed
this report in detail prior to its publication: Professor Marc
Bekoff, Professor Clive Phillips, Professor Lesley Rogers,
Professor Bernard E. Rollin and Professor AJF (John) Webster.
Of course, our thanks to the Voiceless Team for their dedication,
passion, in-depth research, editorial and extensive legal work
in particular Elise Burgess, Emmanuel Giuffre, Elaine Morris,
Eleanor Nurse and Clotilde Hery.
We would also like to thank our research supporters – Sarah
Margo, Reeve Koelmeyer, Anwen Price and Sara Gajic, and
industry participants who helped to create a thorough and
accurate assessment of the Australian dairy industry.
Working together, we can change the lives of millions of
animals. We urge you to join us in speaking up for the voiceless.
Ondine Sherman & Brian Sherman AM Hon Litt D (UTS)
Managing Directors and Co-Founders, Voiceless
executive summary
In the past three decades, Australian dairy cows
have been selectively bred to double their lactation
- now producing an astonishing 5,525 litres of milk
annually, a massive increase from 2,848 litres in
1979.1
Genetically altering an animal to produce this quantity of
milk, coupled with continuous pregnancy and birthing, places
enormous pressure on the animal’s body and compromises her
welfare.2
To address the serious welfare concerns within the Australian
dairy industry, Voiceless has examined the following key issues
for dairy cows and their calves and has made a number of key
recommendations for reform:
• The separation of the cow from her calf
• Calf slaughter
• Dehorning and disbudding
• Tail docking
• Calving induction
• Lameness
• Mastitis
• Live export of dairy heifers and cows
Lameness and mastitis are major economic issues for
Australian dairy farmers, which result in pain and discomfort
for dairy cows.5 Standard on-farm mutilation practices such
as tail docking, disbudding and dehorning are also a cause of
severe pain and distress.6 Professor John Webster, Emeritus
Professor of Animal Husbandry at University of Bristol observes
that “the dairy cow is exposed to more abnormal physiological
demands than any other farm animal.”7
Forced pregnancies
Like other mammals, a mother cow must give birth in order to
produce milk. As a result, the separation of the mother cow and
her calf is an inherent part of dairy production.
It is recommended by Dairy Australia8 that dairy calves are
prematurely removed from their mothers within 12 hours of
birth, yet cows develop a strong maternal bond with their calf
in as little as five minutes after birth and separation can be
stressful for both individuals.9
Over the days after their separation, a mother cow can
bellow day and night in search of her calf, often returning to
the place where the calf was last seen.10 Separation before
natural weaning also has a negative impact on calf welfare,
with initial signs of distress including increased heart rate and
vocalisations.11
Do we ask too much of the modern dairy cow?
The dairy cow is subjected to a continuous cycle of calving,
milking and impregnation. This is exhausting work that takes a
serious toll on her body. For example, producing the peak yield
of 35 litres of milk per day has been compared to a person
jogging for six hours, seven days a week.3
In as little as seven or eight years, milking cows become worn
out and when their milk yield falls, or they have repeated bouts
of mastitis or lameness, they are slaughtered.4
5
6
1
2
3
4
Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Yield’.
“It is an undeniable fact that genetic selection of cows for greatly
increased milk yield has made it progressively harder for the farmer to
meet their needs, whether for optimal productivity, health or welfare.”
See Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden (Oxford, UK:
Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2005) at 132.
Velten, Cow (London: Reaktion Books Ltd, 2007) at 160.
Advice from Emeritus Professor John Webster PhD.
See Chapter 4.1: Lameness and Chapter 4.2: Mastitis.
See Chapter 3.1: Disbudding and Dehorning and Chapter 3.2: Tail
Docking.
7 Emeritus Professor John Webster PhD quoted in Masson, The Face
on Your Plate: The Truth About Food (W. W. Norton & Company, 2010)
at 84.
8 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Managing Calf Welfare’.
9 See Chapter 2.1: Mother–Calf Separation.
10Joy, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows. An Introduction to
Carnism (San Francisco: Conari Press, 2010) at 61.
11Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare (Second ed.; Malden, USA:
Blackwell Science, 2002) at 33.
3
Executive Summary
Calves as waste products
Due to the pressure for cows to continue to produce milk,
every year hundreds of thousands of calves are born. The
majority of female calves are kept as replacements for the milk
producing herd, while most males are considered wastage or
by-products.12
Each year around 800,000 of these bobby calves are born and
either killed on-farm or sent for commercial slaughter within
just five days of life.13
The Victorian Government advises that ‘non-viable’ calves may
be slaughtered on the day of birth through several options,
including chemical euthanasia, the use of a firearm or stunning
by a captive bolt. Alarmingly, a newborn calf may also be
killed by striking their head with a blunt instrument, such as a
hammer. If the calf still shows signs of life, farmers are advised
to compress the chest wall with a fist, shoot them in the head
or take a knife to their neck or chest.14
While many bobby calves are killed on-farm within hours of
birth, the vast majority are separated from their mothers, given
a last feed and then loaded onto trucks bound for sale yards
and slaughterhouses for use in pet food, leather goods, the
pharmaceutical industry or to be processed into pink veal for
human consumption.15
Why this Report?
Domestic and international demand for dairy produce is
booming but the price of Australian milk has declined steeply
in recent years.16 To meet this demand, both the dairy cow and
the dairy farmer are being pushed to their limits.
Dairy farmers are being squeezed by a hyper-competitive
market system. The number of farmers has halved over the
past 25 years and it is expected that more will walk off farms
if prices drop further.17
4
12 See Chapter 2.2: Bobby Calves.
13 Primary Industries Ministerial Council (PIMC) (2011), ‘Bobby Calves
Time Off Feed Standard - Decision Regulation Impact Statement’ (1.0
ed) at 3. At the time of publishing the dairy industry claims that this
figure is substantially lower as a result of a greater number of dairy
heifers being sent for export, the use of semen sexing, and an increase
in the number of dairy calves being slaughtered on farm (and therefore,
the precise number can not be ascertained), among other things.
14 Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (2008),
‘Humane Destruction of Non-Viable Calves Less Than 24 Hours Old’.
15 Refer to Chapter 2.2: Bobby Calves.
16 Stanley, ‘Milk Is Now Cheaper Than Water. Dairy Farmers Deserve
Better’, The Guardian, 17 December 2013.
17 Jopson, ‘Milk Prices Tumble, and Dairy Farmers Prepare to Walk’,
Sydney Morning Herald, 29 January 2011.
To compete commercially, dairy farmers are forced to maximise
production, both in milk volume output and the methods of
farming. In fact, it is estimated that around 2% of Australian
dairies are now 100% total mixed ration (TMR) systems,
where cows have no need to access the outdoors to graze on
pasture,18 and this figure is likely to grow.
The trend towards higher milk output and indoor systems
increases pressure on dairy cows. Yet little of this is visible to
consumers, many of whom no doubt continue to hold idyllic
views of dairy production as it was half a century ago.
This Report, however, comes at a time when there is potential
to improve the welfare of dairy cows and their calves.
The existing Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals
– Cattle (2nd ed) 2004 (Cattle Code) is being re-written to
incorporate both mandatory standards and industry guidelines,
which are intended to apply nationally. This is an opportunity for
real improvement in the treatment of dairy cows in Australia.
Voiceless acknowledges, however, that not all of the welfare
issues we address in this Report – such as lameness and
mastitis, mother-calf separation, or the management of
unwanted bobby calves – can easily be ‘regulated away’
through tougher criminal sanctions.
A multi-faceted approach is needed to improve animal welfare
in the dairy industry, which may include the development of
a National Dairy Industry Licensing Scheme to promote best
practice.19 In addition, establishing nationally recognised dairy
industry assurance schemes would give ethical consumers a
genuine choice to purchase higher welfare dairy produce, and
in turn, incentivise producers to improve on-farm practices.
As with the existing regulatory framework, it is only through
regular and independent monitoring and enforcement that we
can expect to achieve positive welfare outcomes. Accordingly,
we advocate for the establishment of an Independent Office
of Animal Welfare to provide advice on animal welfare
matters and, importantly, to enable regular government and
independent veterinary inspection of dairy farms to ensure
compliance with minimum welfare standards.20
It is time to break the silence on the treatment of the modern
dairy cow and her calf. A greater insight into their suffering
will promote a wide-ranging and informed public debate about
what sort of dairy industry the people of Australia want and
how we can achieve it.
18 Little, ‘Feeding Systems Used by Australian Dairy Farmers’ (Dairy
Australia, 2010) at 2.
19 See Chapter 6.2: The Need for Reform.
20Ibid.
The Life of the Dairy Cow
1.Background
5
1. Background
1.1Introduction
The first dairy cows arrived in Australia with the
First Fleet in 1788. The seven cows and two bulls,
like many of the early convicts, escaped soon after
landing. After six years in the wild, the original nine
had increased to a herd of 61.21
Today, the Australian dairy producing herd is made up of 1.65
million domesticated cows22 and dairy is viewed as an integral
component of Australian agriculture. Indeed, the significance of
the dairy farm and the dairy cow have entered our consciousness
through literature, art and more recently, marketing.
Marketing of dairy has been phenomenally successful. So
much so that it seems to many that:
This Report provides a platform for consumers to educate
themselves about standard animal husbandry practices within
the Australian dairy industry and help them make informed
purchasing decisons. This approach will, in time, create a flow
on effect for industry and government.
• Dairy is essential for good health;
Sentience and the dairy cow
• Cows need to be milked for their health and comfort;
Sentience is the ability of a living being to perceive and feel
things.24 Beings – human or animal – are sentient if they are
capable of being aware of their surroundings, their relationship
with other animals and humans and of sensations in their
own bodies, including pain, hunger, heat or cold.25 A sentient
animal is one who has interests, who prefers, desires or wants
different things.26
• Dairy is essentially a ‘non-harm’ industry; and
• Dairy farmers struggle for a living and deserve public
support.
Certainly this last point is true and we at Voiceless do not lightly
present a report that may be to the detriment of dairy farmers.
In our view, however, the almost universal and unquestioned
belief in the first three of the above points has enabled the
Australian dairy industry to avoid much of the scrutiny that has
been levelled against other animal industries. In short, they
have flown under the radar.
The purpose of this Report is to reveal what is happening to
dairy cows and calves and to break the silence about certain
industry practices, no matter how unpalatable they may be.
In this regard, we have taken the position that all animals
have intrinsic worth and that their own interests are legitimate
subjects of moral concern.23 In particular, we are guided by
scientific research on animal sentience.
6
This position of concern for the welfare of the animal is no
longer a fringe issue. A growing number of consumers are
asking important questions about how their food is produced,
how animals are treated in this process and about their quality
of life. This is especially important now given the push towards
mega-dairies: with larger herd sizes, lack of pasture and higher
milk yield.
21 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Discover Dairy: Dairy Farming in Australia’.
22 Dairy Australia (2013), ‘Australian Dairy Industry in Focus 2013’.
23 See, for example, Regan, Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of
Animal Rights (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005).
While most people now understand that animals feel pain,
some find it more difficult to consider that animals are
emotional beings who also seek pleasurable experiences. And
again, there are people who can envisage these characteristics
in their dog or cat, but who struggle to extend their empathy to
farm or food animals who are often seen to be less intellectually
and emotionally complex.27
Recent research has provided evidence which shows that this
is not the case.
Excitement at solving a problem
For instance, a study by Cambridge University Professor Donald
Broom and his team suggested that cows become excited
when they solved a problem involving a food reward.28 Cows
who made clear improvements in learning reacted emotionally:
24 Mellor and Diesch (2006) at 48; Webster (2006) at 1-3.
25 Turner, ‘Stop-Look-Listen: Recognising the Sentience of Farm Animals’
(Compassion in World Farming Trust, 2006) at 6.
26 Francione (2012), ‘Animal Rights: The Abolitionist Approach’.
27 For a discussion on human perceptions towards companion and noncompanion animals, see: Joy, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear
Cows. An Introduction to Carnism (San Francisco: Conari Press, 2010)
at Ch.2.
28 Hagen and Broom (2004) at 203 - 13.
their heart rates increased and they were more likely to jump,
buck and kick when they went down towards the food.29
Cows like to be called by their names
At Newcastle University in the UK, researchers designed a
study to see whether differences in the way cows feel around
humans have an effect on their welfare, behaviour and milk
production. The researchers found there was a statistically
significant 3.5% increase, or 258 litre increase, in milk yield
where cows were called by their names.30 The survey also
demonstrated that where cows were visited more often during
rearing, they too had significantly higher milk yields.31
Cows are social animals
Working on her doctoral thesis at The University of
Northhampton in the UK, Krista McLennan has demonstrated
that cows form close personal relationships with other cows.
McLennan monitored behaviour to determine the impact of
short term isolation. Her research shows when heifers32 are
with their preferred partner, their heart rate remains lower and
they are less agitated compared to times spent with a random
individual.33
During long term separation (two weeks) from preferred
partners, cows showed significant behavioural, physiological
and milk production changes. These responses subsided,
however, on reunion with their preferred partner.34
This is consistent with observations that cows and calves will
form close friendships, develop dislikes for certain individual
cows, bear grudges, and display inquisitiveness such as
sniffing the exhaust from cars.35
These studies and observations demonstrate the complexity
and depth of cow sentience. The science tells us that cows
seek positive experiences and seek to avoid negative ones
and this should, invariably, be taken into consideration when
assessing their welfare.
What is welfare and how do we judge it?
Typically, animal farmers, vets and those concerned with an
animal’s productivity tend to favour the animal’s performance
as an indicator of good health and welfare. While a decline in
an animal’s ability to function (e.g. to produce milk) can be
a result of poor welfare, the healthy functioning of an animal
alone does not indicate good welfare.36
As such, most animal welfare scientists will employ a variety of
measures to assess the welfare of animals.
The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) defines good
welfare as:
“Animal welfare means how an animal is coping with
the conditions in which it lives. An animal is in a good
state of welfare if (as indicated by scientific evidence)
it is healthy, comfortable, well nourished, safe, able
to express innate behaviour, and if it is not suffering
from unpleasant states such as pain, fear, and distress.
Good animal welfare requires disease prevention and
veterinary treatment, appropriate shelter, management,
nutrition, humane handling and humane slaughter/
killing. Animal welfare refers to the state of the animal;
the treatment that an animal receives is covered by
other terms such as animal care, animal husbandry,
and humane treatment.”37
Nearly all discussions on the definition of ‘animal welfare’ will
consider the Five Freedoms and Provisions developed by Dr
John Webster and subsequently adopted by the UK Farm Animal
Welfare Council, Dairy Australia (the industry representative)
and many other bodies. These Five Freedoms are:
1. Freedom from hunger and thirst;
2. Freedom from discomfort;
3. Freedom from pain, injury or disease;
4. Freedom to express normal38 behaviour;
5. Freedom from fear and distress.39
29
30
31
32
Ibid, at 211.
Bertenshaw and Rowlinson (2009) at 59-69.
Scientist Live (2014), ‘Happy Cows Produce More Milk’.
A heifer is defined as a young female cow over the age of one, who
has never calved or has given birth only once.
33 McLennan, ‘Social Bonds in Dairy Cattle: The Effect of Dynamic Group
Systems on Welfare and Productivity’, Doctoral (The University of
Northampton, 2013).
34Ibid.
35Young, The Secret Life of Cows: Animal Sentience at Work (UK:
Farming Books and Videos Ltd, 2005).
36 Fraser et al. (1997) at 191 and 196-199.
37 Terrestrial Animal Health Code, Article 7.1.1.
38 We note that the freedom to express ‘normal’ behaviour is distinct
from ‘natural’ behaviour, and relates more to the provision of sufficient
space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind. This is
distinct from, but not necessarily inconsistent with, enabling the animal
to live out a ‘natural’ life.
39 Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) (2014), ‘Five Freedoms’.
7
1. Background
For this Report, we will seek to highlight some of the key
welfare concerns in the dairy industry using the following
welfare questions developed by Von Keyserlingk et al, which
are generally consistent with both the Five Freedoms and the
OIE definition of good animal welfare:
1. Is the animal functioning well?
This addresses issues such as disease, injury, growth rate
and reproductive function.
2. Is the animal feeling well?
This question covers both physical and emotional states,
such as the animal’s experience of pain, hunger or cold
as well as fear, stress and grief. It also includes the
experience of positive emotions like pleasure.
3. Is the animal able to live a relatively natural life and
express natural behaviour?
This question deals with whether the animal is able to
perform and express natural behaviours throughout their
life, such as grazing.40
What are the welfare issues for dairy production?
Many of the welfare issues examined in this Report can be
attributed to the fact that the dairy cow has been genetically
selected to produce such a huge volume of milk that her health
and wellbeing are subsequently compromised.41 Through
selective breeding, nutrition and farm management, the
modern dairy cow has been bred to maximise udder size and
milk production. She now produces more than twice as much
milk as a typical dairy cow produced 50 years ago.42
The process of lactation is hard work,43 yet dairy cows can be
expected to produce milk at a high rate for ten full months of
the year.44 Dr John Webster describes the modern dairy cow
as the apotheosis of the overworked mother and pinpoints the
single source of her woes: “Most of the welfare problems (the
‘production diseases’) of the dairy cow arise from the fact she
has to work so hard for so long.”45
8
40 Von Keyserlingk et al (2009).
41Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden (Oxford, UK:
Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2005) at 132.
42 Statistics from ABARES identifies over a twofold increase in milk yield
per cow since 1968. This summation is based on 2,430 litres per cow
in 1968 and 5,389 litres per cow in 2013. See ABARES, ‘Agricultural
Commodity Statistics 2013’ at 58. According to Dairy Australia, the
average annual milk production per cow in 2012/13 was 5,525 litres,
compared to 2,848 litres in 1979/80. This marks an almost twofold
increase in milk production per cow over the last 30 years. See, Dairy
Australia (2013), ‘Australian Dairy Industry in Focus 2013’ at 7.
43Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden at 132.
44 See, for example, Victorian Department of Environment and Primary
Industries (2014), ‘How Long Will Cows Milk?’.
45Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden at 134.
These stressors have serious, sometimes disastrous,
consequences for the individual cow. High milk production
quickly depletes minerals and nutrients, and it is not
uncommon for cows to be undernourished and metabolically
stressed due to inadequate feed, or an inability to digest the
feed.46 This makes the dairy cow more susceptible to both viral
and bacterial conditions, such as lameness and mastitis.47
It is no wonder that while the average lifespan of a wild bovine
is around 20 years, commercial dairy cows are generally sent
to slaughter before they reach their seventh or eighth year,
worn out and no longer producing enough milk to justify the
cost of their feed.48
“Most of the welfare problems (the ‘production
diseases’) of the dairy cow arise from the fact
she has to work so hard for so long.”49
Milk myths
For decades, peak nutrition bodies and government guidelines
have endorsed the idea that the consumption of dairy products
is essential for good health and that dairy should be the main
source of calcium in the diet.50
Australians have clearly taken this advice, and responded
positively to the clever marketing of dairy products. On
average, we now consume around 107 litres of milk, 14kg of
cheese and 4kg of butter per person per year, with the rate of
consumption increasing annually.51
It must be asked: are the huge amounts of dairy we consume
necessary for good health and calcium?
46Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare (2nd ed; Malden, USA: Blackwell
Science, 2002) at 10.
47Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden at 132.
48 Advice from Emeritus Professor John Webster (PhD).
49Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden at 134.
50 Nutrition Australia (2014), ‘The Healthy Living Pyramid’.
51 ABARES, ‘Agricultural Commodity Statistics 2013’ at 63.
The advice from the Dieticians Association of Australia (DAA),
the peak body for dietetic and nutrition professionals, is to
consume 2.5-4 serves of dairy foods a day. In the section, ‘How
can I get more calcium in my diet?’ the first seven suggestions
involve dairy products. Alternatives such as soy milk are listed
for those ‘who don’t like dairy foods or are lactose intolerant’.52
It is worthwhile noting that the DAA is sponsored by some of
Australia’s largest multinational dairy suppliers. DAA’s ‘Major’
and ‘Associate’ partners include Jalna, Nestle and Unilever as
well as peak national dairy industry body, Dairy Australia.53
The rhetoric surrounding mandatory dairy consumption is
changing in Australia. For the first time in 2013, the Federal
Government’s National Health and Medical Research Council
(NHMRC) included alternatives to dairy, such as soy, almond,
rice and oat milk fortified with calcium.54 Specifically, the
Australian Dietary Guidelines, issued by the NHMRC, structures
the government’s recommendations on types and amounts of
food Australians should consume. The guidelines recommend
we eat a wide variety of nutritious foods from five groups
including 2-4 serves of “milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or their
alternatives” (our emphasis).55
There is no doubt that calcium is important for human health,
but in light of the immense suffering experienced by dairy cows
and calves as outlined in this Report, now is the time for us to
reconsider the huge quantities we consume each year and the
potential for other non-dairy sources of calcium to fulfil our
dietary needs.
The importance of welfare
At the heart of this Report is the dairy cow and our concern
for her and her calf’s welfare. The welfare questions outlined
in this chapter (is she feeling well, behaving naturally and
functioning well) are applied throughout this Report, and go
some way to highlight those key welfare issues that are worthy
of our attention and debate. Instead of dairy cows and their
calves being viewed as units of production, Voiceless wants
to bring their welfare to the fore and ask: how could they fare
better?
52 Dietitians Association of Australia (2014), ‘How Can I Get More
Calcium in My Diet?’.
53 Dietitians Association of Australia (2014), ‘Advertising & Corporate
Partners’.
54 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (2013), ‘Eat
for Health: Australian Dietary Guidelines’, at 56.
55 NHMRC (2013), ‘Australian Dietary Guidelines Summary’, at 12.
9
10
11
1. Background
1.2A Snapshot of the
Australian Dairy Industry
The dairy industry is Australia’s third largest
agricultural sector with a combined farm,
manufacturing and export value of $13 billion
in 2013.56
Production is focused in eight main dairy regions, most of
which are located in the south east of Australia with Victoria
alone accounting for approximately 66% of Australia’s milk
production.57 See Map 1: Dairy Farming Areas.
The national producing herd, which comprises some 1.65
million dairy cows,58 was expected to produce between 9.1 and
9.2 billion litres of milk in 2013/14, with industry projections for
2014/15 reaching as high as 9.4 billion litres.59
Australian milk production has increased dramatically since the
1980s.60 During this period in Victoria, milk production more
than doubled, while individual cow numbers remained constant
and effective grazing area reduced by 35%.61
In the same time period, the average national herd size jumped
from 85 to 220 cows per farm, with an increasing number of
farms milking over 1,000 cows.62 This shows that there are
fewer dairy cows in Australia, but that farm herd sizes have
increased.
Essentially, Australian dairy farms are producing more milk
using fewer cows and less space than ever before.
The Australian dairy industry is largely pasture-based, meaning
cows are left to graze, however, it is now common for farmers to
provide supplementary feeding with grains.63 As of 2010, it was
estimated that around 2% of Australian dairy farms were zerograzing systems (termed total mixed ration systems by industry),
permitting cows to be permanently confined indoors.64 For more
information, see Fact Box 1: Total mixed ration dairies.
12
56 Dairy Australia (2013), ‘Australian Dairy Industry in Focus 2013’ at ii.
57 Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (2013),
‘Dairy Industry Profile’.
58 Dairy Australia (2013), ‘Australian Dairy Industry in Focus 2013’.
59 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Dairy Situation and Outlook: May 2014 Update’.
60 PricewaterhouseCoopers (2011) at 8.
61 Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (2014),
‘Innovation Doubles Milk Production: A Review of Pre-Farm Gate
RD&E’s Contribution 1980-2010’.
62 PricewaterhouseCoopers (2011), at 6 and 10.
63 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘The Australian Dairy Industry’.
64 Little (2010), ‘Feeding Systems Used by Australian Dairy Farmers’ at 2.
Producers supply milk and milk products both nationally and
internationally, with Australia’s domestic market consuming
60% of all milk produced.65 The remainder is exported to
overseas markets, mostly to Asia, which purchases 74% of all
Australian exported milk products. Australia is the fourth largest
exporter of dairy products in the world, accounting for 7% of
the global export market, behind the EU, New Zealand and the
US.66
A short, production-driven life
The average natural lifespan of a beef cow at good pasture,
is around 20 years.67 Most cows used for dairy production,
however, will never reach this age. See Figure 1: Productive
Lifecycle. The harsh reality of commercial dairying in Australia
is that these cows are generally slaughtered before their
seventh or eighth year.68 The main reasons for early slaughter
are infertility, lameness and mastitis – diseases that are directly
linked to the stresses of high production.69
During their short lives, a dairy heifer is typically artificially
impregnated for the first time at between 15 and 18 months
old. After a nine month gestation, she will begin producing
milk after giving birth. For dairy farms maintaining a seasonal
calving pattern with cows calving every 12 months, a cow will
generally be reimpregnated two to three months after giving
birth, meaning she will only have up to a 13 month reprieve
between the birth of her calves.70
65 Dairy Australia (2013), ‘Dairy at a Glance’.
66 Dairy Australia (2013), ‘Australian Dairy Industry in Focus 2013’ at 22.
67 Advice from Emeritus Professor John Webster (PhD); “The average
life-span in intensive dairy systems (about five years) is a fraction of
the potential of 20 to 25 years, because of the metabolic strain”: see
Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare (Second ed; Malden, USA:
Blackwell Science, 2002) at 5.
68 Goddard and Madgwick (1989), at 2624–2632.
69 Advice from Emeritus Professor John Webster (PhD).
70 House (2011), ‘A Guide to Dairy Herd Management’ (2011) at 3.
Map 1:
Dairy Farming Areas by
Regional Deveopment Program
Source: Dairy Australia, Australian Dairy Industry.
Figure 1:
Productive lifecycle of
the modern dairy cow
Birth
15-18 months
Impregnated
Slaughtered
at about 84
months
24-27 months
Birth of first
calf
Milk
production
declines in
lactation cycle
26-30 months
Reimpregnated
68-76 months
Birth of fifth
calf
35-39 months
Birth of second
calf
59-67 months
Reimpregnated
57-64 months
Birth of fourth
calf
37-43 months
Reimpregnated
48-55 months
Reimpregnated
46-52 months
Birth of third
calf
13
FACT BOX 1
1. Background
Total mixed ration dairies
Dairy cows are grazing animals who naturally spend their lives on pasture where they can graze, forage and
express their natural behaviours. Today, dairy cows who have been bred to produce huge volumes of milk may not
be able to meet the extreme nutritional demands required to maximise milk production with pasture alone.71
For this reason, some cows are fed ‘mixed ration’ diets, a high-energy blend of feedstuffs. Mixed ration can be
offered as a ‘partial’ supplement to cows who are kept on pasture or can make up a cow’s whole diet, known as a
‘total mixed ration’ (TMR) system.
TMR dairy farms present a number of welfare issues for dairy cows. It’s common for cows who are consuming
large amounts of high energy feed to develop digestive issues like acidosis, which can cause anorexia and
diarrhoea in cows and can lead to death if untreated.72 TMR systems also make grazing redundant, permitting
dairy cows to be confined indoors for their whole lives. This increases the incidence of mastitis, restricts space
allowance and can frustrate a cow’s natural behaviours.73
The Australian animal protection framework does not protect dairy cows or their calves from being permanently
confined indoors,74 and while there are only a handful of TMR dairies in Australia,75 this type of intensive dairy
farming should not be permitted to expand. This trend towards TMR is highly concerning, as it will potentially give
rise to factory farm style mega-dairies, as seen in the US.
71 Charlton et al (2011) at 3875.
72 Reference Advisory Group on Fermentative Acidosis of Ruminants (RAGFAR), ‘Ruminal Acidosis - Understandings, Prevention and Treatment: A Review
for Veterinarians and Nutritional Professionals’, (Australian Veterinary Association, 2007) at 4 and 5.
73 Charlton et al. (2011) at 3875.
74 See for example, Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals - Cattle (2nd ed) 2004 (Cattle Code) at [2.1.2] which refers to housed cattle.
Importantly, neither the Cattle Code, the Draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle (Version 1) (Draft Cattle Standards &
Guidelines), nor state-based law prohibits the permanent confinement of dairy cows.
75 Little (2010), ‘Feeding Systems Used by Australian Dairy Farmers’ at 2.
A mother cow will continue to lactate and be milked during her
next pregnancy until approximately 50-60 days before giving
birth. This period is known as a ‘dry off’ or a cease milking
period, and it allows for udder recovery, the treatment of
mammary infections and preparation for birth.76
Our concern from an animal welfare perspective is clear:
repeated pregnancies and increased production dramatically
increases the risk of the dairy cow suffering debilitating
disease (particularly as most health and welfare problems
occur in early lactation),77 and potentially, early slaughter.78
The life of a typical dairy cow is shown in Figure 1: Productive
lifecycle of the modern dairy cow.
14
76Ibid.
77 Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden (Oxford, UK:
Blackwell Publishing Ltd) at 134.
78 See also Chapter 4.1: Lameness and Chapter 4.2: Mastitis.
1.3Regulating the Welfare of Dairy Cows
The welfare of dairy cows is legislated by state
and territory governments,79 with each enacting
their own separate animal cruelty legislation80
and associated regulations.81 State and territory
cruelty laws are generally focused on preventing
gross acts of animal cruelty or neglect,82 while also
providing certain minimum safeguards, such as
requiring farmers to provide animals with adequate
food and water.83
Animal cruelty laws are presently complemented by the Model
Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Cattle (2nd ed)
2004 (Cattle Code), which sets out minimum welfare standards
for the treatment of cattle in Australian agriculture, including
dairy cows and their calves.
Critically, the Cattle Code only has legal force and effect once
its provisions are incorporated, either partially or wholly, into
relevant state and territory laws. Otherwise compliance is
largely voluntary.
All Australian jurisdictions have adopted the Cattle Code, with
the exception of Victoria which has its own Code of Accepted
Farming Practice for the Welfare of Cattle 2001 (Victorian
Cattle Code).
State and territory governments have generally incorporated
the Cattle Code into their state and territory laws so that:
• compliance with the Cattle Code can be relied upon as a
defence to a charge of animal cruelty;84 or
• compliance or non-compliance with the Cattle Code can
be presented as evidence to show that an individual
has complied or not complied with the animal cruelty
legislation.85
South Australia is the only jurisdiction to have made compliance
with the Cattle Code mandatory.86 Compliance with the Victorian
Cattle Code is also a defence under the Victorian legislation.87
See Appendix 2 of this Report for further details on how the
relevant industry codes operate in each jurisdiction.
Current legal reforms
The Cattle Code is expected to be replaced by the Draft
Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle
(Version 1) (Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines), which at the
time of publishing this Report, is in its final stages of review.88
79 The Commonwealth Constitution does not give the Commonwealth
Government express powers to legislate for animal welfare. The
Constitution does, however, provide the Commonwealth Government
with several indirect powers to regulate on animals, including the
trade and commerce power in s 51 (i), quarantine power in s 51 (ix),
fisheries power in s 51 (x) and external affairs powers in s 51 (xx). As
a result, the Commonwealth Government regulates with respect to
animals in international trade, treaties that involve animals, the export
and import of animals, biosecurity and customs relating to animals, the
management of pest or feral animals or invasive species, and animals
for meat exports.
80 Animal Welfare Act 1992 (ACT); Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Act 1979 (NSW); Animal Welfare Act 1999 (NT); Animal Care and
Protection Act 2001 (QLD); Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA); Animal
Welfare Act 1993 (TAS); Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986
(VIC); and Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA).
81 Animal Welfare Regulation 2001 (ACT); Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals Regulation 2012 (NSW); Animal Welfare Regulation 1999 (NT);
Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2012 (QLD); Animal Welfare
Regulation 2012 (SA); Animal Welfare (General) Regulations 2013
(TAS); Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulation 2008 (VIC); and
Animal (General) Welfare Regulation 2003 (WA).
82 For example, s 5 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979
(NSW) makes it an offence, among other things, if a person commits
an act of cruelty upon an animal, or fails to exercise reasonable care to
prevent an act of cruelty.
83 For example, s 8(1) of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979
(NSW) states: “A person in charge of an animal shall not fail to provide
the animal with food, drink or shelter, or any of them, which, in each
case, is proper and sufficient and which it is reasonably practicable in
the circumstances for the person to provide”.
The Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines are to contain
mandatory ‘Standards’, which are intended to be enacted
nationally either in Regulation or by adoption under the relevant
state and territory animal cruelty laws. They will also contain
non-mandatory ‘Guidelines’.
84 See, for example, ss 40(1) and (2), Animal Care and Protection Act
2001 (QLD); s 25, Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA); s 43, Animal Welfare
Act 1985 (SA).
85 See, for example, s 34A, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979
(NSW) and s 16, Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (QLD).
86 Ss 43 and 44(3), Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA); Reg 5, Animal Welfare
Regulation 2012 (SA); Schedule 2, Animal Welfare Regulation 2012
(SA).
87 S 6(1)(c), Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (VIC).
88 At the time of publishing, the Animal Welfare Task Group (AWTG) was
seeking the state and territory governments’ position on the Draft
Cattle Standards & Guidelines to resolve any outstanding issues. It was
then proposed that in mid-September 2014 the AWTG would present
the final standards and guidelines to the Agriculture Senior Officials
Committee and then to the Agriculture Ministers for endorsement.
If Ministerial endorsement is received the Draft Cattle Standards &
Guidelines would then be used by states and territories as a basis for
relevant animal welfare law: Australian Animal Welfare Standards and
Guidelines (2014), ‘Cattle’.
15
FACT BOX 2
1. Background
Welfare words: When is it reasonable to strike, punch or kick a cow?
The Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines is in its final stage of review, and will replace the existing Cattle Code to
regulate the treatment of animals on dairy farms. For the reasons set out in this Report, Voiceless considers the Draft
Cattle Standards & Guidelines will do little to improve the welfare of dairy cows in Australia.
One of the more absurd provisions of the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines is contained in S5.2(3), which provides:
“A person handling cattle must not … (3) strike, punch or kick, cattle in an unreasonable manner” (emphasis
added).89
The question must be asked: “When is it ever reasonable to strike, punch or kick a cow?” Unsurprisingly, the Draft
Cattle Standards & Guidelines do not prescribe the circumstances in which these acts of violence could be deemed
“reasonable”. This position is inconsistent with international standards for animal welfare90 and is a clear example of
how legal protections can be significantly undermined by the use of ‘welfare words’.
89 This provisions is consistent with the SA5.7(v) of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards & Guidelines for the Land Transport of Livestock 2012 (edition
one).
90 See Article 7.3.3(3) of the Terrestrial Animal Health Code, which provides: “Animal handlers are responsible for the humane handling and care of the
animals, especially during loading and unloading …”
The Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines contain a number of
specific protections for dairy cows, such as requirements to
inspect lactating cows daily, to minimise heat stress, and to
resort to tail-docking only in the case of injury or disease. The
Guidelines include recommendations such as a preference
for milking techniques which minimise discomfort, constant
access to water in hot weather and regular hoof inspections.91
Voiceless’s concerns with the regulatory regime
A complete analysis of both the current and proposed legislative
framework is beyond the scope of this Report. A critique of
the key welfare issues we outline in this Report are, however,
provided in the Chapters that follow and a summary of how
each Australian jurisdiction regulates some of these issues is
provided in Appendix 3 of this Report.
The following section provides a brief snapshot of some
of Voiceless’s general concerns with the legal protections
provided for dairy cows, both under the current and proposed
regulatory regimes, and highlights the need for legal reform in
this area.
16
91 See S9, Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
• Welfare words: Most jurisdictions prohibit ‘unnecessary’,
‘unjustified’ or ‘unreasonable’ acts of cruelty.92 The
corollary of this is that the law permits cruelty against
farmed animals which can be deemed necessary, justified
or reasonable.93 The law does not provide any guidance
on what these ‘welfare words’ mean, but in practice, they
operate to permit a number of otherwise cruel husbandry
practices. For dairy cows, a clear example of this is the
premature on-farm slaughter of thousands of bobby
calves per year, a practice which would undoubtedly be
unacceptable if it was performed on animals outside a
commercial context, such as domestic pets.
92 See, for example, s 5(3), Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979
(NSW); s 3(c) and 18(2), Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (QLD); s
13(3)(a), Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA); s 8(1), Animal Welfare Act 1993
(TAS); ss 9(1), Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (VIC); s 19(2)
(e), Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA); s 8(1), Animal Welfare Act 1992
(ACT); s 9(3)(a), Animal Welfare Act 1999 (NT).
93 See Sharman, ‘Farm Animals and Welfare Law: An Unhappy Union’, in
White and Sankoff (ed.), Animal Law in Australasia (Federation Press,
2009) at 51.
• Legalised cruelty: A number of dairy industry practices
that Voiceless deems cruel are permitted under the
current Cattle Code, including tail docking, dehorning
and disbudding, and calving induction.94 Unfortunately,
the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines will do little to
improve this situation, permitting:
- dehorning and disbudding of dairy calves under the age
of six months old, without pain relief;
- chemical (or caustic) disbudding of calves less than 14
days old;
- the killing of one-day-old calves with a blow to the head
with a blunt instrument; and
- calving induction on the advice of a veterinarian,
with no express prohibition on its use as a herd
management tool or for non-therapeutic purposes.95
The Chapters that follow outline the cruelty involved in each of
these practices, and yet they continue to be permitted under
the current and proposed animal protection legal framework
because they serve a commercial purpose. Refer to Appendix
1 of this Report for how the Cattle Code and the Draft Cattle
Standards & Guidelines deal with some of our key welfare
concerns in the dairy industry.
• Overlooked welfare issues: Both the Cattle Code and
the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines either fail to,
or inadequately deal with, a number of the key welfare
concerns associated with the dairy industry. Dairy cows
are permitted to be permanently housed indoors. As a
result, a small but increasing number of wholly intensive
dairy systems presently exist in Australia.96 The provisions
relating to the management and prevention of lameness97
94 Refer to Appendix 1 of this Report for the relevant provisions of the
Cattle Code.
95 Ibid. Note that the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) supports
dehorning only where analgesia is used, where appropriate, to
minimise pain and stress. The AVA also opposes the use of topical
caustic chemicals for the dehorning / disbudding of cattle: AVA (2014),
‘8.4 Dehorning of cattle’ (31 October 2014).
96 Refer to Appendix 1 of this Report for the relevant provisions in the
Cattle Code and Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines. Note that it is
estimated around 2% of dairy farms in Australia are total mixed ration
(TMR) systems, where cows are given feed mix and do not require
outdoor access to feed on pasture: Little, ‘Feeding Systems Used by
Australian Dairy Farmers’ (Dairy Australia, 2010) at 2.
97 See, for example, [6] of the Cattle Code provides general
recommendations on treating diseased or sick animals. In relation to
lameness. [4.5] of the Cattle Code states: “cattle should be confined
on concrete surfaces as briefly as possible”; and that “[g]ravel tracks
to and from paddocks, sheds or dairies should be maintained
adequately to avoid excessive hoof wear and consequent lameness”.
[6.4] of the Cattle Code also states: “lame animals should have their
condition diagnosed and appropriate treatment provided. Where
possible, movement of the animals should be limited”. S3.3 of the
Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines contains a general requirement
that “A person in charge must ensure appropriate treatment for
sick, injured or diseased cattle at the first reasonable opportunity”.
and mastitis98 are not mandatory and, as a result, are
unlikely to deliver positive welfare outcomes for dairy
cows. Critically, there is no guidance around the early
separation of mothers from their calves, or on the need
for farmers to invest in initiatives to reduce the exorbitant
number of bobby calves prematurely slaughtered in
Australia each year as part of the dairy industry.99 Each
of these welfare concerns are detailed further in the
Chapters that follow in this Report.
• Unenforceability: As previously noted, the Cattle Code
is not mandatory in any Australian jurisdiction, with
the exception of South Australia.100 While the Draft
Cattle Standards & Guidelines will contain mandatory
‘Standards’, most of the provisions relevant to dairy cows
are expressed as mere ‘Guidelines’. These Guidelines
are voluntary, and accordingly, largely unenforceable.
Further, many of the protections in the Cattle Code and
the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines are couched
in highly subjective ‘welfare words’, such as ‘should’,
‘may’ or ‘reasonably’, effectively rendering them legally
unenforceable.101
• Monitoring and enforcement: Monitoring and
enforcement of the regulatory framework is the
responsibility of state and territory governments, and in
most jurisdictions, the Royal Society for the Prevention
of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA). Enforcement efforts are
G9.3 of the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines states: “A lameness
management strategy should be implemented and should include
practices for prevention, early detection and effective treatment”. G9.4
also states: “Lameness assessment and/or hoof inspections should be
conducted regularly and hoof trimming carried out when necessary”.
These provisions in the Cattle Code and the Draft Cattle Standards &
Guidelines are non-mandatory.
98 See, for example, [6] of the Cattle Code provides general
recommendations on treating diseased or sick animals. In relation
to mastitis, [5.3.2] states: “[m]ilking technique must minimise the
risks of discomfort or injury to the cow and the development and/
or transmission of disease”. S3.3 of the Draft Cattle Standards &
Guidelines contains a general requirement that “A person in charge
must ensure appropriate treatment for sick, injured or diseased
cattle at the first reasonable opportunity”. G9.5 of the Draft Cattle
Standards & Guidelines provides a non-mandatory Guideline which
states: “A mastitis management strategy should be implemented and
should include practices for prevention, early detection and effective
treatment”.
99 For further information, see Chapter 2.1: Mother-Calf Separation and
Chapter 2.2: Bobby Calves.
100 ss 43 and 44(3), Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA); Reg 5, Animal Welfare
Regulation 2012 (SA); Schedule 2, Animal Welfare Regulation 2012
(SA).
101 For example, [5.1.2] of the Cattle Code states: “Procedures and
practices that cause pain should not be carried out if painless and
practical methods of husbandry can be adopted to achieve the
same result” (emphasis added). S1.1 of the Draft Cattle Standards &
Guidelines states: “A person must take reasonable actions to ensure
the welfare of cattle under their care” (emphasis added). There are
numerous other examples from both the Cattle Code and the Draft
Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
17
1. Background
heavily dependent on industry self-auditing and reporting
to ensure on-farm compliance. Industry auditing focuses
principally on food safety and milk quality, as opposed to
compliance with animal welfare standards.
Voiceless considers the current dependence on industry
self-reporting of regulatory compliance to be severely
inadequate. A lack of regular, independent monitoring of
on-farm practices makes it nearly impossible to ensure
that dairy farmers are engaging in good husbandry
practice or complying with those minimum standards that
do exist.102
Concluding remarks
These factors undermine the ultimate purpose of the
regulatory framework – to protect the welfare of dairy cows
and their calves – and, in our view leaves them to suffer
lives of institutionalised and legalised pain and suffering.
In addition to the many recommendations we outline in
this Report, law reform is needed to ensure that dairy cows
and their calves are treated with respect and compassion:
to prohibit unnecessarily cruel practices, like dehorning,
disbudding and calving induction; to require farmers to take
active measures to prevent and appropriately manage the
onset of disease, like lameness and mastitis, and to provide
mothers and their calves with the ability to exhibit their
natural behaviours.
There is an important distinction to be made between
preventing acts of cruelty towards animals and ensuring
their welfare. The animal cruelty legislative framework,
in effect, operates to protect farmed animals from gross,
intentional acts of cruelty or gross acts of neglect when they
are detected. It is a sad reality that other considerations
– such as the ability for animals to function well, to feel
well, and to live out a natural life – are mostly unprotected
by law, and are secondary to maintaining the commercial
usefulness of these sentient beings.
18
102 Under the proposed Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, it is
anticipated that peak industry bodies will work with jurisdictional
governments in a “co-regulatory” environment to establish a primary
role for industry Quality Assurance (QA) audit processes to monitor
and enforce compliance with standards, with governments maintaining
overview (audit) of industry QA systems and intervening directly in
response to specific incidents of non-compliance with standards. For
a general discussion on the co-regulation of the animal protection
framework, see for example Goodfellow, ‘Animal Welfare Law
Enforcement: To Punish or Persuade?’, in White, Black and Sankoff
(ed), Animal Law in Australasia (2nd ed: Federation Press, 2013) at
183-207.
Of course, Voiceless acknowledges that not all of the welfare
issues we address in this Report – such as lameness and
mastitis, or the management of unwanted bobby calves –
can easily be ‘regulated away’ through tougher criminal
sanctions. A multi-faceted approach may be needed to
improve the current situation. This includes:
• Prohibiting unnecessarily cruel practices under the
existing criminal law – like tail docking, dehorning and
disbudding, killing day old calves by means of blunt
force trauma, and the non-therapeutic use of calving
induction.
• Implementing a license scheme, which could operate
alongside industry Quality Assurance programs, to
ensure farmers comply with best practice in animal
welfare.
• Developing independent national dairy industry
assurance schemes to provide consumers with a
genuine choice and give industry a commercial
incentive to invest in higher standards of animal
welfare.
• Establishing an Independent Office of Animal Welfare
to provide advice on animal welfare matters and,
importantly, to enable regular and independent
oversight of dairy farms to ensure compliance with
welfare standards.
We discuss these options further in Chapter 6.2: The Need
for Reform and hope these possible alternatives will facilitate
discussion and debate amongst regulators, industry and the
broader community.
The Life of the Dairy Cow
photo: Mountain View Farm
2.Mother and Calf
19
2. Mother and Calf
2.1Mother–Calf Separation
Like other mammals, a mother cow must give birth
in order to produce milk. As a result, the separation
of cow and calf shortly after birth is an integral yet
distressing part of modern commercial dairying.
Most dairy calves are forcibly removed from their mothers
shortly after birth,103 causing clear distress to both mother and
calf.
There is now an extensive body of research on maternal
behaviour in cows that allows us an understanding of the
issues surrounding birth and the harmful impact of separating
calves before they are naturally weaned.
In our view, mother-calf separation is one of the most
psychologically damaging aspects of dairy farming, though it
remains largely unknown to the public and is notably absent in
the ‘feel good’ marketing of most dairy products.
Calving for milk
In order for a heifer to begin producing milk, it is necessary
for her to fall pregnant and give birth to a new calf. As milk
production begins to fall quite rapidly after nine months,
and two to three months is needed to prepare for the next
parturition,104 she will generally be forced to give birth to a calf
every 13 months105 to ensure that she continues producing a
high volume of milk into the next year.106
There were about 1.65 million productive dairy cows in milk in
the Australian herd in 2012/13.107 With cows being continually
artificially impregnated every 13 months, it is clear that a huge
number of calves are born each year to keep the herd milking
at a sufficiently high rate.
From the viewpoint of the farmer, and the industry more
broadly, each calf is a necessary by-product of milk production.
From the mother cow’s point of view, however, the situation is
very different.
photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
20
103 See Chapter 2.2: Bobby Calves.
104 Independent advice from Professor Clive Phillips BSc, MA, PhD.
105 House (2011), ‘A Guide to Dairy Herd Management’ at 3-4.
106 This is for dairy farms that maintain a seasonal calving pattern with
cows calving every 12 months. Refer to Chapter 1.2: A Snapshot of
the Australian Dairy Industry at Figure 1: The productive life cycle of the
dairy cow, for an overview of the typical productive life of the modern
dairy cow.
107 Dairy Australia (2013), ‘Dairy at a Glance’.
Why separate?
The onset of maternal behaviour begins in the hours before
birth when cows, if given the opportunity, isolate themselves to
choose a nesting site in preparation for calving.116
Under natural conditions, calves will generally remain with their
mothers until they are gradually weaned at around six to eight
months.108 The routine practice of separating a calf from his
or her mother shortly after birth, however, is usually done to
ensure the highest yield of milk is available for sale.109
In the first seven minutes after birth, if left alone, mothers lick
their calves and then intensely groom them for the next 30 - 40
minutes.117 This behaviour is strongly instinctive and satisfying
for both mother and calf, and one which is considered essential
in establishing their bond.118 It is also a behaviour that is
important in encouraging activity in the calf and which is likely
to have other positive effects such as stimulating breathing,
circulation, urination and defecation.119
There are differences of opinion as to how soon the separation
should be done. In the past, calves would often be left with
their mothers for the first 12 to 24 hours in order for them to
consume the first milk: the colostrum.110 Colostrum is essential
for calves’ health as it contains the antibodies necessary to
give them immediate passive immunity to infection.111
Cows will vocalise immediately after the birth of their calves,
with quiet grunting sounds used in combination with licking.
The purpose of these ‘contact’ calls is not always clear,
although it is suggested they may play a role in allowing the
calf to recognise his or her mother’s voice.120
A ‘problem’ arises, however, as the longer the cow and calf
remain together, the stronger the bond between them.112
It is now common practice and recommended by the dairy
industry to separate the mother from her calf within 12 hours
of birth, then feed the mother’s extracted colostrum to her calf
from a bottle or bucket. The dairy industry presents this as a
‘better’ method, as it minimises the calf’s exposure to possible
harmful bacteria and viruses carried by their mother.113
“As little as five minutes of contact with a calf
immediately after birth may be sufficient for the
formation of a strong maternal bond.”121
Separation also seeks to address an additional problem: the
possible inability of calves to suckle from their mothers. As
the udder of the modern dairy cow is so pendulous, her teats
are no longer positioned where the calf has been genetically
programmed to find them.114 While this issue may only affect
a small proportion of calves, the reality is that her udder may
now be more suited to a milking machine than a newborn
calf.
The early removal of her calf will deny the cow her natural
expression of her maternal and nurturing instincts. While the
calf must only suffer the stress of separation once, mother cows
are forced to endure repeated pregnancies and separations.
Cows are deeply maternal animals, and a review of the
literature shows that they will engage in a number of diverse
behaviours to ensure the growth and survival of their calves.115
Separation denies cows the ability to express their natural,
maternal behaviours.
108 Flower and Weary (2001) at 276.
109Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden (Oxford, UK:
Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2005) at 146.
110 Flower and Weary (2001) at 276.
111 Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) (2013), ‘Information Sheet 6:
Dairy Cow-Calf Separation and Natural Weaning’ at 2-3.
112 See, for example, Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden at
146; Von Keyserlingk and Weary (2007) at 111.
113 Dairy Australia, ‘Managing Calf Welfare’.
114Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden at 146.
115 Keyserlingk and Weary (2007) at 111.
photo: Mountain View Farm
Denial of maternal behaviour
116 Ibid, at 106, 107; Lidfors et al. (1994) at 11-28.
117 Keyserlingk and Weary (2007) at 107.
118 Ibid, at 106-13; CIWF (2013), ‘Information Sheet 6: Dairy Cow-Calf
Separation and Natural Weaning’ at 2.
119 Metz and Metz (1986) at 325-333.
120 Keyserlingk and Weary (2007) at 109.
121 Flower and Weary (2001) at 276.
21
2. Mother and Calf
Distress in mother cows
Scientific evidence now tells us that dairy cows are affected by
the separation process.
Some farmers will argue that immediately after birth certain
cows show only a mild response to separation which may
include low, soft calls with the mouth closed designed to
help the calf locate his or her mother.122 The cow may then
return to feeding, which is taken to mean that separation is
not stressful.123 Research shows, however, that the onset of
distress is often delayed and peaks between 12-24 hours after
separation.124
photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Behavioural responses indicating stress include restlessness,
sniffing, increased vocalisations and activities that would
naturally serve to reunite the cow and calf upon separation.125
“When the calf was first removed, she was in
acute grief; she stood outside the pen where
she had last seen her calf and bellowed for
her offspring for hours. She would only move
when forced to do so. Even after six weeks, the
mother would gaze at the pen where she last
saw her calf and sometimes wait momentarily
outside the pen. It was almost as if her spirit
had been broken and all she could do was to
make token gestures to see if her calf would
still be there.”129
For days after their separation, a mother can bellow day and
night in search of her calf, often returning to the place where
the calf was last seen. There have even been instances of
mothers escaping and travelling for miles to find their calves
on other farms.126
Both behavioural and physiological distress responses become
more intense with late separation and when mother cows
are able to see and hear their calf. In addition to time spent
together, experience also has a role to play, as cows who have
given birth more than once will have a stronger response to
separation.127 Studies also show a mother cow’s heart rate will
increase when they hear a recording of a calf’s call.128
There are many descriptions of this distress in the relevant
literature. Jeffrey Masson described the experience of John
Avizienius, senior scientific officer with the RSPCA Great
Britain, who remembers one particular cow who was deeply
affected by the separation from her calf:
22
122 Hopster et al (1995) at 5; CIWF, ‘Information Sheet 6: Dairy Cow-Calf
Separation and Natural Weaning’ at 2; Keyserlingk and Weary (2007)
at 109.
123 Hopster, O’Connell and Blokhuis (1995) at 5-6.
124 CIWF, ‘Information Sheet 6: Dairy Cow-Calf Separation and Natural
Weaning’ at 2.
125 Keyserlingk and Weary (2007) at 111; CIWF, ‘Information Sheet 6:
Dairy Cow-Calf Separation and Natural Weaning’ at 2.
126Joy, Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows. An Introduction to
Carnism (San Francisco: Conari Press, 2010) at 61.
127 CIWF, ‘Information Sheet 6: Dairy Cow-Calf Separation and Natural
Weaning’ at 2.
128 Marchant-Forde et al (2002) at 24.
129Masson, The Pig Who Sang to the Moon. The Emotional World of
Farm Animals (New York: Ballantine Books, 2003) at 140.
There are pro-welfare and pro-health benefits of natural
weaning.
Allowing the mother cow to rear her young until natural
weaning has been shown to improve her health (by reducing
the risk of contracting diseases post-calving), improve her
psychological well-being (by reducing separation distress)
and, as discussed above, permitting her to express her natural
maternal behaviours.130
Distress in calves
The natural behaviour of calves is to maintain a strong bond
with their mothers, which can last well beyond the point of
natural weaning.131 As such, separation before natural weaning
can also have a negative impact on calf welfare.
A 2014 study by Weary et al suggests that calves experience
distress following maternal separation at approximately 24
hours after birth, showing signs of low mood and negativity
following separation. The study revealed that calves are
emotionally impacted by separation, drawing a link with the
anxiety experienced by calves following the pain of hot iron
disbudding.132
Initial signs of mild distress following early separation include
increased heart rate and vocalisations. Separation at 24 hours
of age can also impair their social development and weight
gain compared to calves separated later.133 While this is clearly
problematic for calves that will go on to replace the existing
milking herd,134 it is suggestive of the harmful physical affect
separation can have on calves.
The behaviourial responses of calves to separation increase,
however, after a stronger maternal bond has formed, with
one study showing calves displaying abnormal behaviours,
including signs of movement, butting, urination and vocalisation
and reduced grooming, lying and eating when separated at 72
hours.135
130 CIWF, ‘Information Sheet 6: Dairy Cow-Calf Separation and Natural
Weaning’ at 2.
131Ibid.
132 Weary et al (2014) at 1- 4.
133Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare (Second ed; Malden, USA:
Blackwell Science, 2002) at 31 and 33.
134 For more information on replacement and non-replacement (or bobby)
calves, see Chapter 2.2: Bobby Calves.
135 Solano et al (2007) at 13. Note that this experiment looked at the
benefit of providing fence-line contact between cow and calf during
temporal separation.
“When cows and their calves are separated, they
spend a long time pacing the field boundaries in
an attempt to re-unite, as well as standing and
watching each other.”136
Calves separated from their mothers will often suck each
other (cross-sucking) and express other oral ‘vices’ such as
fence sucking and pen licking, especially if they are isolated in
individual pens.137
Allowing calves to remain with their mothers until natural
weaning has been shown to improve their health (by reducing
the risk of disease and diarrhoea), avoiding the distress
of separation, and enabling the calf to exhibit their natural
behaviours, like suckling.138
Recommendations
Alternatives currently exist to help reduce separation
distress, as discussed in Chapter 2.2: Bobby Calves.
Ideally, dairy calves would be permitted to wean naturally,
minimising distress and improving the emotional and
physiological health to both mother and calf. While this may
be considered untenable to the high volume commercial
dairy industry, it is clear the trend towards mega-dairies
is exacerbating this welfare issue, as higher production
demands result in more pregnancies and more calves.
A national dairy industry assurance scheme could be
beneficial in facilitating a move towards alternative
business models that better deal with the distress of early
separation. See Chapter 6.2: The Need for Reform for further
information.
136Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare at 33.
137 Margerison et al (2003) at 278-284.
138 CIWF, ‘Information Sheet 6: Dairy Cow-Calf Separation and Natural
Weaning’ at 3.
23
2. Mother and Calf
Concluding remarks
We know that many mammals grieve the loss of their
offspring and dairy cows are no different.139
Most Australians do not connect the dots: to provide milk, a
dairy cow must give birth to a calf from whom she is then
separated. The milk, which should be fed to her newborn, is
instead taken away.
As discussed in this chapter, there is clear evidence of
the maternal nature of cows. Through the routine practice
of separation, these maternal instincts are continually
frustrated and exploited for the benefit of high milk yield.
The trend towards mega-dairies and greater milk yield will
compound this issue. Separation has also been shown to
have adverse physiological and emotional effects on not
only the mother cow, but also her calf.
In this way, it is evident that in the separation of the cow
from her calf, their ability to function well, feel well and to
express their natural behaviours is severely impaired. Put
simply, this practice fails the test for good animal welfare.
While the calf is only forced to suffer separation once, the
current practices of the dairy industry force mother cows to
repeatedly suffer in this way over the course of their short
lives.
24
139 See, for example, Bekoff (2000) at 865-866.
2.2 Bobby Calves
Every year around 800,000 calves are slaughtered
in Australia within the first week of their lives.140
Labelled ‘bobby calves’ and treated as wastage by
the dairy industry,141 their suffering is a hidden and
disturbing truth of modern dairy farming.
The transport of bobby calves
Due to their low value,144 unwanted bobby calves are often
not afforded the same level of housing, cleanliness or care in
handling as replacement heifers.145
Around 700,000 calves are transported live for commercial
slaughter each year, sold for use in pet food, leather goods,
the pharmaceutical industry or to be processed into pink veal
for human consumption.146 The remainder will be slaughtered
on-farm at or soon after birth.147
Once they are born, calves are divided into two categories:
‘replacement’ calves (heifers) who will eventually replace the
worn out milking cows and ‘non-replacement’, unwanted
bobby calves, who are destined for slaughter.142
In Australia, bobby calves can be transported at just five days of
age.148 Unlike other countries, Australia does not have a wellestablished industry to process bobby calves, so they are often
required to travel long distances to slaughterhouses and saleyards.149
Unwanted bobby calves are typically male (bull) calves, but the
term can also include those female calves who are deemed
unsuitable for herd replacement or milk production.
While many of these bobby calves are killed on-farm within
hours of birth, the majority are separated from their mothers
before they are one week old, given a last feed and then loaded
onto trucks for potentially long distances to sale-yards and
slaughterhouses.143
Live animal transport can be a severely stressful process
for animals.150 This is particularly the case for young calves
who have not yet had the time to develop adequate coping
mechanisms to respond to the stresses of travel.151
photo: Diana Simpson
In order to keep milk production high, farmers continually
impregnate mother cows. This is despite the possibility that
they will give birth to calves that are unsuitable for use as
milkers and will inevitably need to be slaughtered soon after
birth. These bobby calves are in a very real sense, the ‘waste
products’ of the dairy industry.
140 Primary Industries Ministerial Council (PIMC) (2011), ‘Bobby Calves
Time Off Feed Standard - Decision Regulation Impact Statement’ (1.0
ed) at 3. At the time of publishing the dairy industry claims that this
figure is substantially lower as a result of a greater number of dairy
heifers being sent for export, the use of semen sexing, and an increase
in the number of dairy calves being slaughtered on farm (and therefore,
the precise number can not be ascertained), among other things.
141 “Bobby calves are a by-product of the dairy industry”: see Gregory
and Grandin, Animal Welfare and Meat Science (New York CABI
Publishing, 1998) at 143.
142 See the RSPCA definition of bobby calf, which states “A bobby calf
is a bovine less than 2 weeks old that is not accompanied by its
mother. In the dairy industry, bobby calves are the unwanted offspring
of dairy cows and generally destined for slaughter rather than herd
replacement or rearing for veal”: RSPCA (2008), ‘Welfare of Bobby
Calves on Farm, Position Paper B2’. The Australian Animal Welfare
Standards and Guidelines - Land Transport of Livestock (Version 1.1)
2012 (Transport Standards & Guidelines) defines bobby calves as “A
calf not accompanied by its mother, less than 30 days old, weighting
less than 80 kg live weight”, at 105.
143 PIMC (2011), ‘Bobby Calves Time Off Feed Standard - Decision
Regulation Impact Statement’ at 3.
144 “In April this year the Warrnambool Standard reported bobby calves
being sold for as little as $12. Two weeks later in The Weekly Times
prices were reported to be even lower at $10.” See Humphreys, ‘Call
for Better Life for Dairy’s Rejects’, The Age Victoria, 13 October 2013.
See also, PIMC (2011), ‘Bobby Calves Time Off Feed Standard Decision Regulation Impact Statement’ at 5.
145 RSPCA (2013), ‘What Happens to Bobby Calves?’.
146 35% of these calves are purchased by travelling calf buyers and
the remainder are transported to local calf scales, mobile scales or
saleyards by small trucks or trailers. See PIMC (2011), ‘Bobby Calves
Time Off Feed Standard - Decision Regulation Impact Statement’ at 4.
RSPCA (2013), ‘What Happens to Bobby Calves?’; Humphreys, ‘Call
for Better Life for Dairy’s Rejects’.
147 PIMC (2011), ‘Bobby Calves Time Off Feed Standard - Decision
Regulation Impact Statement’ at 4.
148 Refer to Fact Box 3: How long can bobby calves be transported in
Australia?
149 Cave et al (2004) at 82.
150 Trunkfield and Broom (1990) at 135.
151 RSPCA (2013), ‘What Happens to Bobby Calves?’; PIMC, ‘Bobby
Calves Time Off Feed Standard - Decision Regulation Impact
Statement’, at 7.
25
FACT BOX 3
2. Mother and Calf
How long can bobby calves be transported for in Australia?
The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines - Land Transport of Livestock (Version 1.1) 2012 (Transport
Standards & Guidelines) permits the transportation of bobby calves less than five days old and bobby calves between
five and 30 days old only if the journey time is less than six hours and 12 hours respectively.152 This has been
adopted in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland.
Tasmania permits the transportation of bobby calves for a maximum transport time of ten hours.153 Western Australia
permits the transportation of calves provided that they are given a rest period after 24 hours (for calves less than
one month old, travelling with their mother) and 36 hours (for calves older than one month old). Further, calves less
than one month old must be provided with food and water every 12 hours.154
As a comparison, in the European Union calves of less than 10 days old may only travel for a maximum of 100 km
and a maximum of eight hours, and require once daily feeding.155
152 SB4.4 and SB4.5, Transport Standards & Guidelines.
153 [7.2], Animal Welfare Guidelines – Trade and Transport of Calves, Including Bobby Calves, Tasmania (2008).
154 [5.4.5] and [10.2-10.3], Code of Practice For the Transportation of Cattle in Western Australia (2003).
155 Welfare in Transport Regulation (EC) No 1/2005, which states calves less than 10 days old may only travel a max distance of 100km. The EU Directive
91/629/EEC requires feeding once a day.
Travel causes a number of welfare problems for bobby calves,
preventing them from functioning well, feeling well and
exhibiting their natural behaviours:
• Hunger and thirst
Calves are inevitably hungry and thirsty during transport.
The science shows that calves will naturally suckle
from their mother around five times a day and will likely
experience hunger about nine hours after their last
feed.156 Despite this, the dairy industry has committed to
a voluntary standard which will allow milk to be withheld
from calves for up to 30 hours.157 Water can also be
withheld from five day old calves for up to 18 hours,158
despite potentially being subjected to high stocking
densities and extreme heat en route.
26
156 Advice from Professor Clive Phillips BSc, MA, PhD.
157 “All industries involved in the bobby calf supply chain (that is dairy
farmers, livestock agents, calf buyers and transporters and calf
processors) have agreed to implement a national industry standard
that sets a limit of 30 hours TOF for calves aged 5 to 30 days
being transported without mothers.” See, Australian Animal Welfare
Standards and Guidelines (2014), ‘Bobby Calf Time Off Feed
Standard’.
158 SB4.1, Transport Standards & Guidelines.
• Exhaustion
Cows and calves are unlikely to lie down in the first 15
hours of transport due to stress, which is unnatural for
newborns.159 They are also likely to suffer from sleep
deprivation due to the stress of travel and restrictions on
movement.160
• Bruising and injuries
Bruising and injuries are frequently observed in animals
following transport (particularly those travelling long
distance) as a result of rough handling, increased
aggression from mixing unfamiliar animals, poor vehicular
design and vehicular movement.161 As calves lack any
learned herd behaviour, they are also less likely to move
willingly in groups, meaning they’re more likely to be
handled roughly by stockpersons.162
159 Rumination, for example, is a marker of relaxation and is significantly
decreased during transport. See, Trunkfield and Broom (1990) at 140.
After a journey, cattle will lie down for longer than normal, suggesting
that it is a high priority for them to maintain normal lying time. See,
Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare (Second ed; Malden, USA:
Blackwell Science, 2002) at 39-40.
160 Trunkfield and Broom (1990) at 140-41.
161 Ibid, at 139-40; De Witte (2009) at 150.
162 RSPCA (2013), ‘What Happens to Bobby Calves?’; Grandin, (2000) at
5.
The science used to support the position in the Transport Standard & Guidelines to allow the withholding of food for
up to 30 hours was based largely on the Fisher et al study (Fisher Study).163 It should be noted that the Transport
Standards & Guidelines does not expressly specify the time off feed limit, due to a lack of consensus being reached
during the consultation process, notably from the Queensland Government.164
FACT BOX 4
30 hours ‘Time off Feed’
This Fisher Study was argued to have inappropriate conclusions in an unpublished independent review conducted by
Clive Philips and Jim Hogan of the University of Queensland’s School of Veterinary Science, Centre for Animal Welfare
and Ethics.165
Phillips and Hogan found, among other things, that the report ignored the calves’ experience of hunger and
tiredness during the study, undertook no measurements of cortisol or hormones connected with stress and did
not use a control group of calves that were fully fed so that the effect of withdrawal from feed could be made. The
recommendation that 30 hours off feed is acceptable was challenged by Phillips and Hogan, on the grounds that
hunger would have been felt well before this time.
Further, the calves used in the experiment were fed five litres of milk prior to transport. This appears to be based
on the assumption that it is possible to ‘load up’ calves with a large feed of milk and then starve them for up to 30
hours with little or no welfare consequences. This is an unnatural way for calves to feed and has potentially serious
adverse physical implications for the calves.
Phillips and Hogan conclude that the calves experienced hunger for the majority of the study and probably tiredness
as well. The evidence for these alleged adverse effects on welfare includes reduced blood glucose concentrations
(and the associated increase in 3-hydroxy butyrate), increased creatinine kinase concentrations and lying times that
were probably reduced.
163 Fisher et al. (2010).
164 Biosecurity Queensland raised concerns about deficiencies in the behavioural data and aspects of the conclusions in the paper by Fisher et al
(unpublished) upon which many of the Decision Regulatory Impact Statement assumptions were based. See, Biosecurity Queensland (2011), ‘Bobby
Calf Time Off Feed Regulatory Impact Statement Submission’.
165 Phillips and Hogan, ‘Independent Assessment of Dairy Australia Project No. Tig 124 “Determining a Suitable Time Off Feed for Bobby Calf Transport
under Australian Conditions” by Andrew Fisher, Peter Mansell, Bronwyn Stevens, Melanie Conley, Ellen Jongman, Mariko Lauber & Sue Hides’ (School
of Veterinary Science; Centre for Animal Welfare: University of Queensland).
• Deaths en route
While dairy cows and their calves generally do not suffer
high mortality rates associated with transport, studies
indicate that transported calves are more likely to die
than those that remain on-farm,166 and that this mortality
increases exponentially with the distance travelled.167
Using a study from 1998-2000, it is estimated that
approximately 4,500 calves would die en route annually
in the current industry, not including sick or injured calves
that will die on arrival. 168
166 Trunkfield and Broom (1990) at 137.
167 Cave et al (2004) at 83.
168 Ibid, at 82.
• Illness
Calves often succumb to post-transport respiratory and
gastrointestinal infections.169 Depending on the time of
year and location, they may also suffer from either thirst,
heat stress or hypothermia.170
169 The extreme stress experienced during transport has the effect of
an immunosuppressant. Consequently, there is a higher incidence of
disease amongst transported calves. See Trunkfield and Broom (1990)
at 139.
170 Young calves are highly susceptible to hypothermia. See [G4.1], Animal
Welfare Guidelines – Trade and Transport of Calves, Including Bobby
Calves 2008 (TAS); Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare, at 41.
27
2. Mother and Calf
On-farm slaughter – blunt force trauma
Calves who are not transported to farms, sale-yards or
slaughterhouses are either sold for dairy or beef rearing
or killed on-farm. It is estimated that over 65,740 calves
are slaughtered on-farm each year, their carcasses either
immediately disposed of or processed at local knackeries.171
Discussions with industry indicate that this figure may be
substantially higher.
Alarmingly, blunt force trauma is a routine and lawful method of
slaughter for those bobby calves who remain on farms.172 This
involves the delivery of a forceful blow to the skull of a newborn
calf with a hammer or blunt instrument. Farmers also have the
option to shoot calves with a firearm or a captive bolt device,173
but blunt force trauma is a cheap method of slaughter.174
The Victorian Department of Environment and Primary
Industries (VDEPI) provides a number of options for the
“humane destruction” of unwanted calves, including chemical
methods, firearms (penetrating captive bolt or rifle) and the use
of “external trauma” caused by a heavy blow to the crown of
the head. See Fact Box 5.175
This industry response will do little to reduce the number of
bobby calves slaughtered in Australia.
Unlike many other countries, Australia does not have a wellestablished industry for rearing surplus dairy calves for beef
or veal production.178 Despite this, it is estimated that the total
value of the bobby calf trade is worth $40 million annually at
the farm gate, with approximately $76 million for the transport,
slaughter and processing chain.179
It is important to reiterate that bobby calves as individuals are
of low monetary value which ultimately affects their treatment.
The trade as a whole, however, is of significant economic
importance to the dairy industry and stakeholders along the
supply chain.
With so many farmers accustomed to supplementing their
annual income with takings from the sale of unwanted bobby
calves, it would be naïve to hope that an industry-driven
solution to reducing the number of these bobby calves will be
developed in the near future.
photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Manually applied blunt trauma has been found by veterinary
experts to be a cruel, imprecise and inhumane method of
slaughter that cannot and should not be justified on economic
grounds. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
deems it an unacceptable method of euthanasia for calves
because their skulls are too hard to achieve immediate
unconsciousness or death. Furthermore, the method requires
considerable skill to be successful on the first attempt and
the degree of restraint required makes consistency near
impossible.176
emphasised that the ethical management, transportation,
handling and marketing of bobby calves is a priority for the
Australian dairy industry, drawing attention to initiatives like
their Calf Management Program.177
Industry response
In recent years the issue of bobby calf welfare has come
under close public scrutiny. In response, Dairy Australia has
28
171 PIMC (2011), ‘Bobby Calves Time Off Feed Standard - Decision
Regulation Impact Statement’ at 50-51.
172 The transport guidelines permit blunt trauma to be used on calves
less than 24 hours old, where there is no other recommended option
available and is followed by a second procedure to ensure death. See,
SA6.5, GB4.17, GB4.19 Transport Standards & Guidelines. The Draft
Cattle Standards & Guidelines allows for the use of blunt force trauma
for calves less than 24 hours old: S11.5.
173 A captive bolt pistol is a device used for striking a shallow blow into
the forehead of an animal usually for the purpose of stunning it prior to
slaughter.
174 Animal Health Australia (2013), ‘Proposed Australian Animal Welfare
Standards and Guidelines - Cattle: Decision Regulation Impact
Statement’ (1 ed), at 36.
175 Ibid.
176 American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) (2013), ‘AVMA
Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals’ at 56-57.
177 Dairy Australia (2010), ‘Calf Management Across the Supply Chain’ at
2.
178 Cave et al (2004) at 82.
179 PIMC (2011), ‘Bobby Calves Time Off Feed Standard - Decision
Regulation Impact Statement’ at 5.
According to the VDEPI, the use of external trauma is only suitable for immature or induced calves on the day of
birth. The blow can be delivered to the same site as for shooting by a “short-handled 1.2 kilogram hammer with a
striking face of approximately 4 x 4cm”.
FACT BOX 5
Blunt force trauma
The VDEPI provides the following instructions for delivery of blunt force trauma to a calf’s skull.
image: artists impression of instructions
“Step 1: The target area is in the middle of the
forehead, at the crossing point of two imaginary
lines drawn from the middle of each eye to the
opposite horn bud.”
“Step 2: The aim should be initially at right angles
to the skull and then tilted slightly to direct the
shot through the lower brain and into the higher
reaches of the neck.”
Following the use of blunt force trauma, the VDEPI states that if the calf is showing signs of life, a calf resumes
breathing or “blinks when a finger is placed on the eye”, there is a danger that the calf could regain consciousness.
According, the VDEPI recommends:
• if the calf is giving occasional gasps but is unconscious, he or she can be killed by compressing the chest wall
with a fist while the calf is lying on its side;
• if the calf is unconscious, he or she can be “bled out” using a “neck stick” or “chest stick”;
• the calf can be shot with a .22 calibre rifle; or
• the calf can be shot with a captive bolt, followed by bleeding out.
Source: Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industies (2008), ‘Humane Distruction of Non-viable Calvles Less Than 24 Hours old’.
29
2. Mother and Calf
photo: Diana Simpson
Regulation of bobby calf welfare
Few legal protections exist to protect unwanted calves onfarm. The Cattle Code180 states that calves less than one
month old “should” not be deprived of access to food for more
than 24 hours;181 they “should” receive at least two litres of
colostrum within the first six hours of birth,182 and “should”
be weaned only when their ruminant digestive systems have
developed sufficiently to enable them to maintain growth and
well-being.183
These requirements are largely unenforceable, with compliance
left to the discretion of producers. We know, for example, that
the bobby calf industry permits calves to go without food for up
to 30 hours before slaughter.
Attempts have been made to improve welfare outcomes
for transported calves with the introduction of the Transport
Standards & Guidelines, which places responsibility for the
welfare of bobby calves on all handlers along the supply chain
– from farm to slaughterhouse.184 As outlined above, however,
the Transport Standards & Guidelines do little to protect these
bobby calves from hunger, thirst, exhaustion, injuries, disease
and mortality en route.
While stronger legal protections may bring small improvements
to the lives of unwanted bobby calves, they will do little to
address the fundamental problem that these animals are
created only to be destroyed.
An alternative business model
The following case studies look at two Australian dairy farmers
who have unique systems in place to manage non-replacement
calves.
30
180 Note, a distinct code operates in Victoria: Code of Accepted Farming
Practice for the Welfare of Cattle.
181 [1.3.1], Cattle Code.
182 [3.6], Cattle Code.
183 [5.10.6], Cattle Code.
184 SA1.1, Transport Standards & Guidelines.
B.-d. Farm Paris Creek, a biodynamic dairy farm in the Adelaide Hills allows all calves to stay with their mothers
for the first few days after birth, ensuring they have access to their mothers’ colostrum. According to B.-d. Farm
Paris Creek:
CASE STUDY 1
B.-d. Farm Paris Creek, Adelaide Hills185
“Our yards and small paddocks are set up for calves and mother cows, where calves stay with mother cows
until they stop feeding. That can take until 2 to 3 months … To keep the calves with their mothers in the first
few days is not only important for the calves but also for the mother cows [who] otherwise could become
stressed if they lose their calves at this early stage.”
The calves are kept together in a calf yard for the first few days, where they can receive fresh milk direct from their
mothers and later they will live with an “adoptive” mother cow for several weeks.
The female calves grow up to become replacement milking cows. The bull calves are either delivered to local small
hobby farmers to graze on excess pasture, provided to beef farmers to put on to adoptive mother cows producing
excess milk, or otherwise sold after several months. B.-d. Farm Paris Creek also raises calves occasionally, to grow
up on their paddocks if they have customer requests for meat.
185 B.-D. Farm Paris Creek (2014), ‘Questions and Answers’.
CASE STUDY 2
At Mountain View Farm in the Gippsland region,
replacement heifers are “reared by hand in a nursery”,
as they find cow-rearing results in their heifers
becoming unsettled or “flighty”.
The dairy has a no-kill policy for non-replacement
calves and all male calves are raised mainly on retired,
or “Nanny” cows, before being sold between 12 – 15
months to be slaughtered at a local abattoir.
photo: Mountain View Farm
Mountain View, Gippsland186
Cows are retired from milking after a maximum of five lactations, at around 7-8 years old, however cows are able to
retire earlier to raise their own calves. According to Mountain View:
“Our model is certainly more suited to the smaller farmer as it would definitely be ideal for a smaller herd…
What we have done is create some stability and certainty. We have set prices for both our milk and meat, and
found markets which has enabled us to run a softer system that is kinder to all involved; the land, the animals
and to us.”187
186 Mountain View Farm Pty Ltd (2013), ‘Herd Share Agreement’.
187 Correspondence with Vicki Jones, Mountain View Farm.
31
2. Mother and Calf
photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Semen sexing
Semen sexing can also help reduce the number of unwanted
bobby calves born on dairy farms.188
Semen sexing is the process of selecting semen to produce
dairy calves of a preferred sex.189 This breeding technology can
be used to avoid the wastage of young male dairy calves by
selecting female calves to replace the existing dairy herd. While
the use of this technology offers farmers a number of potential
benefits,190 conception rates are generally lower with sexed
semen, resulting in a low on-farm adoption rate.191
From an animal welfare perspective, semen sexing is not a
straightforward solution. Use of sexed semen gives a 90%
chance of conceiving a heifer, so there is still a 10% chance
that sexed semen will produce an unwanted male bobby calf.192
Further, an oversupply of female calves could potentially create
a boom in the live animal export industry and may not actually
reduce the level of suffering.
Recommendations
The separation of the calf from the mother cow, followed by
often gruelling transportation and arguably cruel deaths of
very large numbers of newborn calves, are shocking facts of
the modern dairy industry that few consumers know about.
What is needed is a concerted effort by industry to reduce
the breeding of unwanted calves, to have farming systems
that enable calves the ability to be naturally weaned, and
to provide calves with the most natural and humane lives
possible.
32
188 Semen sexing will provide more immediate benefits to farms that
currently use artificial insemination. Although establishing artificial
insemination programs can be costly, the long term benefits of
reduced wastage are still desirable. See, CSIRO (2012), ‘Mating and
Calving Management of Dairy Heifers’ at 195-212; Seidel (1999),
‘Sexed Semen Applications in Dairy Cattle’ at 186.
189 This is achieved through the use of semen with up to 90%
concentrations of either the X or Y chromosome. See, Western Dairy
Incorporated (2014), ‘Striving for Genetic Excellence Using Sexed
Semen’; Seidel (1999), ‘Sexed Semen Applications in Dairy Cattle’, at
184.
190 For the benefits of using sexed semen for farmers, see, for example,
CSIRO (2012), ‘Mating and Calving Management of Dairy Heifers’ at
204; Compassion in World Farming and RSPCA (2008) ‘Beyond Calf
Exports: The Efficacy, Economics & Practicalities of Sexed Semen as a
Welfare-Friendly Herd Replacement Tool in the Dairy Industry’ at 2.
191 This is particularly true for cows who are already lactating. See,
Western Dairy Incorporated (2014), ‘Striving for Genetic Excellence
Using Sexed Semen’; De Vries (2009) at 3; CSIRO (2012), ‘Mating and
Calving Management of Dairy Heifers’ at 203; Seidel (1999), ‘Sexed
Semen Applications in Dairy Cattle’ at 184.
192 CSIRO (2012), ‘Mating and Calving Management of Dairy Heifers’ at
195, 203; De Vries (2009) at 2.
In the meantime, Voiceless recommends that the Transport
Standards & Guidelines must be immediately reviewed to
assess the number of hours that a bobby calf between five
and 30 days old can go without feed. As indicated in this
Chapter, the currently permitted 30 hours off feed is not
based on adequate scientific evidence, and unnecessarily
compromises the welfare of unwanted bobby calves.
Further, the use of blunt force trauma as a means of
slaughtering unwanted bobby calves must be prohibited.
A national dairy industry assurance scheme could be
effective in incentivising more dairy farms to move away
from the early slaughter of unwanted bobby calves. See
Chapter 6.2: The Need for Reform for further information.
Concluding remarks
So long as the present business model of large herd, high
production commercial dairying continues, dairy calves
will continue to be taken from their mothers, endure the
stresses of long distance travel, and be prematurely killed,
often brutally, in their hundreds of thousands.
If it were happening to a companion animal, there would
be a huge outcry and public reaction. As these calves are
a by-product of our desire for their mothers’ milk, we are
complicit in their slaughter. It is important to remember
calves are sentient and sensitive creatures, longing for their
mother, her milk and physical contact, warmth and safety.
This is the true cost of cheap milk; ultimately, otherwise
well-intentioned consumers will have to decide whether
cheap milk is worth this amount of suffering.
The Life of the Dairy Cow
3.Husbandry Practices
33
3. Husbandry Practices
3.1Disbudding and Dehorning
Figure 3.
Frontal sinus shown by arced line in red.
Disbudding is the removal of the horn bud (and horn
producing cells) before it attaches to a calf’s skull,194 and is
usually performed on calves less than two months of age.195
Disbudding typically involves the removal of the horn bud with
a hot iron scoop or through chemical (caustic) application.196
Dehorning is the process of removing the horn and surrounding
tissue of older dairy calves and adult cows after the horns have
attached to their skull.197 This is performed using a variety of
tools, including a dehorning knife, hand and electric saws,
guillotine shears or scoop dehorners.198
While the dairy industry recognises that both procedures can
be painful to some degree,199 both dehorning and disbudding
can be routinely performed in all Australian jurisdictions without
pain relief.200 Yet the procedures are seen as necessary by
industry to limit horns causing injury to farmers or other cows.
34
193 Von Keyserlingk et al (2009) at 4105; Anderson (2010), ‘Dehorning of
Calves’; McMeekan et al (1998) at 281.
194 RSPCA (2009), ‘Why Are Cows/Calves Dehorned/Disbudded?’.
195 This is because the horn becomes attached to the skull at around 2
months of age. See Anderson (2010), ‘Dehorning of Calves’; Espinoza
et al (2013) at 2894.
196 Vickers et al (2005) at 1454.
197 RSPCA (2009), ‘Why Are Cows/Calves Dehorned/Disbudded?’.
198 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013) at 7.
199 Dairy Australia states that disbudding is “the least painful approach
when done correctly.” See Dairy Australia (2013), ‘Disbudding Calves’.
200 Refer to Appendix 1 of this Report on the way in which the Cattle
Code and the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines regulate the use
of both chemical and non-chemical dehorning and disbudding.
Appendix 2 details the treatment of the Cattle Code in each Australian
jurisdiction. Appendix 3 also details how these practices are regulated
in each Australian jurisdiction.
Figure 4.
A Barnes-type dehorner scoops the horn and
horn-producing skin surrounding the horn base.
Figure 5.
An electic hot-iron dehorner will destroy the hornproducing skin at the base of the horn bud.
Copyright © www.TheCattleSite.com - Reproduced with Permission
Disbudding and dehorning are standard mutilation
practices used to remove or stop the growth of
horns in livestock. Despite claims to the contrary,
all methods of dehorning and disbudding cause
chronic and acute pain to calves and adult cows.193
Chronic and acute pain
The use of pain relief
There is a wealth of scientific evidence which shows that all
methods of disbudding and dehorning cause distress and pain
to the calf and adult cow.201
Disbudding and dehorning can be routinely performed in
Australia without the use of pain relief. The use of pain relief
may be prohibitive to some farmers due to its expense and
lack of availability in regional areas. The Australian Veterinary
Association, however, only supports dehorning where analgesia
is used appropriately to minimise pain and stress.209
In younger calves, the process of cautery disbudding generally
results in a significantly smaller cortisol response (indicative
of a lower level of pain) than dehorning.202 Despite this,
disbudding still causes pain and there is no evidence that young
calves experience less pain than older calves.203 Vigorous and
violent escape behaviours displayed during disbudding further
indicate that cows experience pain and distress. Evidence also
suggests that low-grade pain and discomfort may continue for
up to 24 hours after disbudding.204
In older calves and adult cows, dehorning elicits a significant
increase in cortisol (up to nine hours), a hormone which is a
good physiological indicator of stress caused by painful or
potentially harmful mutilations practices. Behavioural studies
have also found that calves that have been dehorned become
highly restless (increased head and tail shaking) and stop
ruminating in the six hours following the procedure, indicating
that it caused them significant pain.205
Beyond the immediate experiences of stress and pain,
dehorning often causes trauma to the cow’s frontal sinuses
posing the risk of infection, excessive bleeding and prolonged
wound healing. These complications are in some cases fatal.206
In cases where a local anaesthetic is administered, it may only
be effective in reducing cortisol levels for between two and
four hours,210 following which there is a rapid cortisol increase.
Studies have indicated that physiological and behavioural
signs of distress can persist for 24 to 48 hours after a cow is
dehorned or disbudded.211
It is also becoming clear that the use of a local anaesthetic alone
does not mitigate the pain associated with these procedures or
provide adequate post-operative relief.212 Instead, adequate
pain relief should seek to address the onset of pain before,
during and after the procedure.213
The use of a sedative for disbudding of calves may also help
with the procedure by minimising the need for restraints.214
A number of sources also recommend a three pronged
approach of a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID),
sedation and local anaesthetic to be used in both disbudding
and dehorning to minimise suffering.215
Often the cow is not effectively restrained, making both these
procedures even more stressful for the animal.207
“Dehorning, depending on the specific procedure,
appears to be one of the most aversive
procedures used on cattle.” 208
201 See Sylvester et al (2004) at 699; Von Keyserlingk et al (2009) at 4105;
Vickers et al (2005) at 1454; Faulkner and Weary (2000) at 2037.
202 Stafford and Mellor (2005) at 347. A preference for disbudding is
outlined in G6.19, Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
203 Anderson (2010), ‘Dehorning of Calves’.
204 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013) at 8.
205 Ibid, at 7 and 9.
206 Meat & Livestock Australia (2014), ‘Patching up dehorned cattle’.
207 RSPCA (2009), ‘Why Are Cows/Calves Dehorned/Disbudded?’.
208 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013) at 7.
209 Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) (2004), ‘8.4 Dehorning of
Cattle’.
210Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare (Second ed; Malden, USA:
Blackwell Science, 2002) at 35.
211 World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) (2013), ‘WSPA
Submission on Cattle Draft Standards and Guidelines’ at 9.
212 Von Keyserlingk et al (2009) at 4105. It appears that local anaesthetics
merely postpone the pain response instead of eliminate it: Cattle
Standards and Guidelines Writing Group (2013) at 10; Faulkner and
Weary (2000) at 2038; McMeekan et al (1998) at 284-85.
213 Vickers et al (2005) at 1454.
214 Von Keyserlingk et al (2009) at 4105; Vickers et al (2005) at 1457-58.
215 See, for example, American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
(2007), ‘Welfare Implications of the Dehorning and Disbudding of
Cattle’ at 5; Von Keyserlingk et al (2009) at 4105; Cattle Standards
& Guidelines Writing Group (2013) at 9; Vickers et al (2005) at 1454;
Faulkner and Weary (2000) at 2040; Fisher and Webster (2013) at 925;
Sylvester et al (2004) at 700.
35
FACT BOX 6
3. Husbandry Practices
Critique on the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines permitting caustic disbudding
In an unpublished paper, Malcolm Caulfield BSc PhD and Heather Cambridge BSc PhD BVMS critiqued the decision
to permit caustic disbudding in the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines. The authors note that it appears the reason
for this decision is a de-emphasis of the significance of a paper by Morisse et al (1995) and an emphasis on a more
recent study by Vickers et al (2005). The Proposed Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines - Cattle:
Decision Regulation Impact Statement (1st ed) (RIS) states further that “caustic disbudding at a very young age is
relatively low impact and any pain may be transient…”216
Caulfield and Cambridge note that neither the papers cited in the RIS nor other work or commentary (not cited)217 on
caustic paste disbudding supports the assertion in the RIS that younger animals suffer a “lower impact”. Moreover,
these papers found that an analgesic pre-treatment was quite ineffective in relieving the pain associated with the
procedure, which argues against the description in the RIS of caustic paste pain as “relatively low impact.”
The reliance of the RIS on the paper by Vickers et al (2005) to support the view that caustic paste disbudding causes
less pain than hot iron treatment was considered misguided, as those authors pre-treated their experimental animals
with the sedative xylazine 20 minutes before treatment with the paste. This compound is not only a sedative, but
is also a powerful analgesic.218 Moreover, Vickers et al used twice the recommended dose (which is 0.1 mg/kg,
intramuscularly, for dehorning).219
Caulfield and Cambridge refer to papers published by Stilwell et al (2008 and 2009), which cite references which
describe human pain caused by caustic paste as “chronic”. Indeed, the study of Morisse et al (1995) found that
caustic paste was more painful than hot-iron disbudding, a view consistent with the European Food Safety Authority
(EFSA) report on the subject.220 Caulfield and Cambridge conclude that it is reasonable to assume that a calf will
experience similar sensations after caustic paste disbudding, and that the pain could last for at least three hours,
maybe more.221
216 Animal Health Australia (2014), ‘Proposed Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines – Cattle: Decision Regulation Impact Statement’, at 42.
217 Stafford and Mellor (2011) at 226-31; Stilwell et al (2008); Stilwell et al (2009) at 35-44.
218 Bayer Animal Health notes that “[c]attle are the most sensitive of all species to xylazine…” and that the drug produces sedation, muscle relaxation and
analgesia. See Bayer Animal Health (2014), ‘Rompun: The Triple Action – Sedation, Muscle Relaxation and Analgesia’.
219 Stafford and Mellor (2011), at 231 note: “the use of xylazine may have influenced the results and further work needs to be carried out to compare these
two disbudding techniques.”
220 Animal Health and Animal Welfare Unit - European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (2009).
221 In a review of these studies, it was noted “all these results suggest that caustic paste disbudding causes distress in young calves for at least the first
3h.” See Stilwell et al (2009); Stafford and Mellor (2011); Morrise et al (1995).
36
Caustic disbudding
In addition to heat cauterisation methods of disbudding,
Australian dairy farmers also have the option of chemical
cauterisation, known as ‘caustic disbudding’. This involves the
application of an acidic paste to the horn buds of calves to
destroy horn-producing cells.222
Even though it has been argued that the pain may be less
severe than hot iron disbudding, chemical cauterisation is
known to cause extreme pain, with tissue damage increasing
whilst the chemical is active.223 It is also possible for the
corrosive chemicals used in caustic disbudding to spread
to other delicate tissues, such as the calf’s face or eyes,
particularly in rainy conditions224 or even to other animals who
come into contact with the calf.225
The Cattle Code states that cattle must not be dehorned with
corrosive chemicals, although this is only mandatory in South
Australia.226 The Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines which are
expected to replace the Cattle Code, however, permit the use
of this method in certain conditions, including when the calf
is less than 14 days old, can be segregated from his or her
mother for four hours after treatment, can be kept dry for 12
hours after treatment, and is not wet.227 It is important to note
that caustic dehorning is opposed by the Australian Veterinary
Association.228 See Fact Box 6: Critique on the Draft Cattle
Standards & Guidelines permitting caustic disbudding.
The industry response
The dairy industry encourages farmers to disbud calves at 6-8
weeks of age rather than dehorning older cattle because it is
deemed “the least painful approach when done correctly” and
“less likely to cause infection”. As such, disbudding is the most
common form of horn removal on Australian dairy farms.229
222 Stafford and Mellor (2005) at 345; AVMA (2007), ‘Welfare Implications
of the Dehorning and Disbudding of Cattle’ at 1.
223 Vickers et al (2005) at 1454.
224 Stafford and Mellor (2005) at 345; Animal Health Australia (2014),
‘Proposed Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines Cattle: Decision Regulation Impact Statement’ at 29; AVMA (2007),
‘Welfare Implications of the Dehorning and Disbudding of Cattle’ at 1;
Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare at 35.
225 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013) at 9.
226 [5.8.4]. Refer to Appendix 1 of this Report on the way in which the
Cattle Code and the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines regulate the
use of both chemical and non-chemical dehorning and disbudding.
Appendix 2 details the treatment of the Cattle Code in each Australian
jurisdiction. Appendix 3 also details how these practices are regulated
in each Australian jurisdiction.
227 S6.5, Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
228 AVA (2004), ‘8.4 Dehorning of Cattle’.
229 Dairy Australia (2013), ‘Disbudding Calves’.
A 2012 Dairy Australia survey found that around 87% of all
calves were born on farms where horns are removed before six
months of age.230 However, it is unknown how many of these
calves were disbudded within the approved Dairy Australia
timeframe of 6-8 weeks of age.
Despite the specific welfare concerns surrounding caustic
disbudding, an industry survey showed 40% of Australian dairy
farmers indicated a high level of interest in using caustic paste
for disbudding. In fact, in a joint submission by Australian Dairy
Farmers Limited and Dairy Australia on behalf of the Australian
dairy industry, the industry bodies advocated against a ban
on caustic disbudding on the basis that it requires minimal
restraints to be used on calves and no specialised equipment.231
Broadly, the dairy industry justifies the use of all these methods
for dehorning and disbudding on the grounds that cows with
horns are more likely to injure farm handlers and other cows.232
It is important to balance these justifications with the extreme
welfare concerns outlined above. While good husbandry can
negate some safety concerns, a clear and humane alternative
may exist with the industry investing in the development of
‘polled’ breeds who do not naturally have horns.233
Polled breeds
To reduce the need for disbudding and dehorning, national
strategies need to be developed with breed associations to
transition towards polled herds.234
This transition also has the support of most farmers,235 and
in 2012, semen which would produce only polled offspring
was made available in Australia for the first time.236 Despite
this, the dairy industry is well behind the beef industry in
the development and uptake of polling technology and
acknowledge more research and development is needed
before this becomes a viable and profitable alternative.237
230 Dairy Australia (2012), ‘Animal Husbandry Survey 2012’ at 2.
231 Australian Dairy Farmers Limited and Dairy Australia (2013), ‘ADF and
DA Submission on Draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and
Guidelines for Cattle’ at 2.
232Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare at 35.
233 Anderson (2010), ‘Dehorning of Calves’; AVMA (2007), ‘Welfare
Implications of the Dehorning and Disbudding of Cattle’ at 5.
234 The AVA recommends the breeding of polled cattle and the
development of methods for determining the carrier status for horn
genes as alternatives to dehorning: see AVA (2004), ‘8.4 Dehorning of
Cattle’; Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013) at 1. This
is provided in G6.19, Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
235 A 2012 survey reported that 52% of farmers expressed interest in
semen from polled sires: Dairy Australia (2012), at 2.
236 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013) at 2; Reynolds and
Pryce (2013) at 139.
237 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013) at 2.
37
3. Husbandry Practices
There may be an industry preference for horned breeds as it
was traditionally believed horned cattle had superior production
traits to that of polled cattle.238 Recent studies, however, have
shown that productivity and behaviour are not linked to polled
genes.239
With the use of modelling techniques, Reynolds and Pryce
(2013) found that breeders were able to maintain poll within
herds with the use of only one generation of poll breeding.
That is, only one poll sire was needed to insert the poll gene,
following which, farmers could continue to use horned sires
to maintain a poll population. The study suggests that polled
breeds are relatively simple to introduce in dairy herds, and
provided a method to potentially mitigate the assumed impact
on productivity.240
Recommendations
All forms of dehorning and disbudding, both caustic and
chemical, must be prohibited unless performed by and
on the advice of a veterinarian for therapeutic reasons.
Alternatives in transitioning to polled breeds and good
workplace, health and safety practices obviate the need for
these painful procedures to continue.
Where the procedure is deemed necessary by a veterinarian,
a combination of sedation, local anaesthetic and NSAIDs
must be used to minimise the cow and calf’s suffering.
A transition to polled dairy cattle of high genetic potential
for milk production is the ideal solution to ending the cruelty
associated with dehorning and disbudding. Voiceless
supports extensive industry investment in this area to
improve its availability, as well as the promotion of its use
on Australian dairy farms.
38
238 AVMA (2007), ‘Welfare Implications of the Dehorning and Disbudding
of Cattle’ at 4; Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013) at
1.
239 AVMA (2007), ‘Welfare Implications of the Dehorning and Disbudding
of Cattle’ at 4; Stafford and Mellor (2005) at 337.
240 Reynolds and Pryce (2013) at 138.
Concluding remarks
Voiceless is opposed to all forms of animal mutilation
practices. Dehorning and disbudding, in particular, have
a legitimate alternative in poll breeding, although we
acknowledge it may take some time for this to become a
viable alternative.
It is important to remember a key welfare question: is the
animal feeling well? Given the science indicating the pain
and distress caused by dehorning and disbudding, it is clear
the answer is no.
While dairy farmers practice disbudding and dehorning to
avoid the potential for later injury, in our view, dairy cows
should not be maimed. Instead, on-farm infrastructure and
practices should evolve to accommodate the cows’ natural
characteristics.
3.2 tail docking
Tail docking involves the amputation of a cow’s
tail, usually without pain relief. While this painful
practice is no longer endorsed by the Australian dairy
industry,241 and under proposed reforms, may soon be
prohibited,242 it is currently legal in many Australian
jurisdictions243 and was performed by 18% of dairy
farmers in 2012.244
Tail docking was originally introduced in New Zealand in the
early 1900’s to improve workplace health and safety for farm
handlers245 and because of the belief that it improves the
cleanliness of the milking shed as well as udder hygiene.246
Scientific evidence, however, does not support these claims.
What the science does provide is evidence that tail docking can
cause acute and chronic pain and the use of a local anaesthetic
offers little to no pain relief for cows.247 Accordingly, veterinary
associations and animal protection groups both in Australia
and globally want to ban tail docking.248
The Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, which is intended to
replace the Cattle Code, expressly prohibits the tail docking of
cows unless it is performed on the advice of a veterinarian and
only to treat injury or disease.249 Once implemented, this will
hopefully see an end to this cruel practice.
methods of tail docking
Tails can be docked using a number of methods, including the
application of a rubber ring to a calf’s tail, the use of a hot
docking iron to sear off the tail or amputation with a knife.250
241 Australian Dairy Farmers Limited and Dairy Australia (2013),
‘Submission on Draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and
Guidelines for Cattle’ at 3; Dairy Australia (2012), ‘Animal Husbandry
Survey 2012’ at 2.
242 S9.3, Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
243 See Appendix 3 for how tail docking is currently regulated in each
Australian jurisdiction.
244 Dairy Australia (2012) at 2.
245 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013) at 1; Tucker and
Weary (2001-2002) at 1.
246 Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) (2013), ‘8.2 Tail Docking of
Cattle’.
247 Von Keyserlingk et al (2009) at 4106.
248 See, for example, Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013),
‘Cattle Standards and Guidelines - Tail Docking Discussion Paper’ at
8-10.
249 [S9.3], Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
250Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare (Second ed; Malden, USA:
Blackwell Science, 2002) at 36; AVA (2013), ‘8.2 Tail Docking of
Cattle’; Sutherland and Tucker (2011) at 188.
The application of a rubber ring is the most commonly used
method and is considered preferable to hot iron docking as the
risk of haemorrhaging is reduced.251 The rubber ring is applied
at about 10 days of age and it cuts off circulation to the tail until
it falls off or is amputated.252
Amputation by cutting is the most hazardous method as it
attracts a greater risk of bleeding and infection.253 Although the
Cattle Code instructs that animals being docked surgically must
receive pain relief, this requirement is only mandatory in South
Australia and accordingly, amputation is usually performed
without pain relief in most other Australian jurisdictions.254
Why dock tails?
Tail docking was originally practiced to avoid leptospirosis in
farm handlers, a disease which can infect humans exposed to
animal urine.255 No scientific evidence exists, however, linking
tail docking to the reduction of leptospirosis,256 with herd
vaccination and improved worker hygiene being more effective
means of reducing the risk of human infection.257
251 Sutherland and Tucker (2011) at 188. A 1999 study found that 75% of
Victorian dairy farms used the rubber ring method: Barnett et al (1999)
at 742.
252 Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare at 36; Sutherland and Tucker
(2011) at 188.
253 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013), ‘Cattle Standards
and Guidelines - Tail Docking Discussion Paper’ at 3; [6], Animal
Welfare (Painful Husbandry Procedures) Code of Welfare 2005 (New
Zealand).
254 [5.6] of the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Cattle
(2nd ed) 2004 (Cattle Code) recommends that only females calves
under 6 months should be tail docked, and only for therapeutic
reasons or by veterinary prescription. Further, anaesthetics must be
administered for surgical docking, the tail should be removed between
bones (as opposed to through bones) and sufficient length should be
left to cover the cow’s vulva. Refer to Appendix 1 of this Report on
the way in which the Cattle Code and the Draft Cattle Standards &
Guidelines regulate tail docking. Appendix 2 details the treatment of
the Cattle Code in each Australian jurisdiction. Appendix 3 also details
how these practices are regulated in each Australian jurisdiction.
255 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013) at 1, 4; National
Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (NAWAC) (2005), ‘Animal Welfare
(Painful Husbandry Procedures) Code of Welfare 2005 Report’ at 46.
In a study of a rotary parlour in New Zealand, milkers’ faces only came
into contact with cow’s tails once every 1,000-1,500 milkings: Stull et
al (2002) at 1302.
256 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013) at 4. “Tail docking
does not appear to be related to signs of exposure to leptospirosis
among milkers”; NAWAC (2005), ‘Animal Welfare (Painful Husbandry
Procedures) Code of Welfare 2005 Report’ at 46; Tucker et al (2001) at
84.
257 Dairy Australia (2011), ‘Myths about tail docking’ at 2; Tucker and
Weary (2001-2002).
39
3. Husbandry Practices
It is also argued that tail docking reduces mastitis and milk
contamination, improves cow health and reduces the soiling of
teats and udders.258
According to the Cattle Standards and Guidelines Writing
Group, support for these claims is largely anecdotal.259 A British
Colombian study of 500 milking cows found no difference in
terms of cleanliness, udder health or mastitis between docked
cows and those with their tails intact,260 a finding which is
consistent with a number of other studies.261 In addition,
researchers acknowledged other factors such as shed design
and good husbandry practices as more influential on udder and
teat cleanliness than the length of the tail.262
Unnecessary cruelty
All methods of tail docking have been shown to cause some
level of pain, distress and chronic irritation.263
Cows docked by hot iron docking (heat cauterisation) can suffer
second or third degree burns, resulting in intense pain.264 The
rubber ring method has also been found to cause immediate
distress and longer term irritation.265 A New Zealand study
on tail docking using rubber rings on three-to four-month old
calves reported that 67% showed an immediate behavioural
response following the procedure, including tail shaking,
crying and restlessness.266 This is consistent with a number of
other studies which have shown mild distress occurs in cows
immediately after the procedure.267
40
258 AVA (2013), ‘8.2 Tail Docking of Cattle’; Barnett et al (1999); Dairy
Australia (2011), ‘Myths about tail docking’ at 1.
259 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013), ‘Cattle Standards
and Guidelines - Tail Docking Discussion Paper’ at 1. Other studies
also present evidence against such claims: AVA (2013), ‘8.2 Tail
Docking of Cattle’; Sutherland and Tucker (2011) at 187.
260 Tucker and Weary (2001-2002).
261 See, for example, Von Keyserlingk et al (2009) at 4106; Sutherland
and Tucker (2011) at 187; NAWAC (2005), ‘Animal Welfare (Painful
Husbandry Procedures) Code of Welfare 2005 Report’ at 47; Schreiner
and Ruegg (2002) at 2510; Tucker et al (2001) at 86.
262 Dairy Australia (2011), ‘Myths about tail docking’ at 2; Schreiner and
Ruegg (2002) at 2510; Stull et al (2002) at 1302.
263 [6], Animal Welfare (Painful Husbandry Procedures) Code of Welfare
2005 (New Zealand); Petrie et al (1996) at 8; Stull et al (2002) at
1300; Halverson (2002); AVA (2013), ‘8.2 Tail Docking of Cattle’; Von
Keyserlingk et al (2009), at 4106.
264 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013), ‘Cattle Standards
and Guidelines - Tail Docking Discussion Paper’ at 3.
265 Ibid; Petrie et al (1995), 58-60.
266 See, Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013), ‘Cattle
Standards and Guidelines - Tail Docking Discussion Paper’ at 5;
Petrie et al (1995) at 58-60; Petrie et al (1996) at 8. Other behavioural
responses include kicking, tail grooming and biting, which indicate
irritability, discomfort and pain: see, NAWAC (2005), ‘Animal Welfare
(Painful Husbandry Procedures) Code of Welfare 2005 Report’ at 47.
267 NAWAC (2005), ‘Animal Welfare (Painful Husbandry Procedures) Code
of Welfare 2005 Report’, at 47.
“Tails are richly supplied with nerves and blood
vessels so that their removal is significant for
the animal.”268
Critically, docked cows may go on to experience ongoing
discomfort and chronic pain due to inflammation and the
development of lesions, or nerve tumours (neuromas) as
a result of the sectioning of tail nerves. This may result in
cows going on to experience phantom pain, similar to that
experienced by human amputees.269
“[T]here is no benefit to tail docking in dairy
cattle. Presently, there are no apparent animal
health, welfare, or human health justifications to
support this practice.”270
Cows use their tails as an indicator of their mood and for social
signaling with other cows in the herd. As such, the removal of
the tail limits their social behaviour and impedes their normal
activities.271 Cows will also use their tail to swat flies so,
particularly in the warmer Australian climates, tail docking can
cause irritation from biting flies272 and result in the potential use
of insecticides and other pest control measures by farmers.273
In addition to social communication, the tail may be a tool to
dissipate surplus heat and cool down in hot weather.274
All of these welfare concerns have compelled legislators in
a number of countries, including the Netherlands, Norway,
Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Scotland, Denmark and
England to ban tail docking. These countries prohibited the
practice over 30 years ago.275
268 [6], Animal Welfare (Painful Husbandry Procedures) Code of Welfare
2005 (New Zealand).
269 Eicher et al (2006), at 3047-54; Barnett et al (1999) at 747; Sutherland
and Tucker (2011) at 189; Stull et al (2002) at 1300; Halverson (2002);
AVA (2013), ‘8.2 Tail Docking of Cattle’; Von Keyserlingk et al (2009), at
4106.
270 Stull et al (2002) at 1302.
271Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare at 36; Halverson (2002);
Sutherland and Tucker (2011) at 188; Petrie et al (1996) at 8; Stull et al
(2002) at 1299-1300.
272 Dairy Australia (2011), ‘Myths about tail docking’ at 1. “[E]ven at high
fly densities, the tail is almost completely effective at eliminating fly
predation.” Further, alternative fly avoidance behaviours are ineffective:
Stull et al (2002) at 1299-1301.
273 AVA (2013), ‘8.2 Tail Docking of Cattle’.
274 Stull et al (2002) at 1299-1300.
275 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013), ‘Cattle Standards
and Guidelines - Tail Docking Discussion Paper’ at 9.
The industry response
Recommendations
In 2012, some form of tail docking was carried out on 18% of
dairy farms in Victoria and Tasmania, an increase from 13%
in 2010.276
All forms of tail docking should be prohibited at a national
level, as is already the case in Queensland.282 Good animal
husbandry and investment in shed design effectively makes
this practice redundant in modern commercial farming.
The persistence of tail docking is a reflection of habit and
tradition, rather than necessity and its use can’t be justified on
scientific grounds.277 The Australian dairy industry no longer
supports tail docking and Australian Dairy Farmers and Dairy
Australia have both supported a ban.278
Industry also points to effective alternatives to tail docking such
as switch trimming (cutting the loose hair at the bottom of the
tail),279 shed design, fly control programs and practices that
improve cow and farm handler comfort.280 While preferable
to tail docking, switch trimming also presents its own welfare
issues by interfering with the ability of the cow to swat flies.281
It is evident, however, that industry-led, voluntary phaseouts in lieu of a legislated ban will continue to be ineffective
in delivering permanent animal welfare improvements in this
area. Therefore, a complete legislative ban on tail docking,
unless performed by and on the advice of a veterinarian, is the
only appropriate response.
Accordingly, Voiceless supports the position in the Draft
Cattle Standards & Guidelines, which states that a person
must tail dock cattle only on veterinary advice and only to
treat injury or disease.283 Tail docking should also only be
performed by a veterinarian, with the use of appropriate
pain relief.
Concluding remarks
Tail docking is an unnecessary and unjustified part of
commercial dairying in Australia. It is important to remember
that this is the mutilation of a sensitive part of an animal’s
body, the cutting off of a calf or cow’s tail.
The pain associated with tail docking can clearly prevent
cows from feeling well, but the procedure can also prevent
cows from expressing their natural behaviours. As such,
tail docking fails to satisfy two of the key welfare questions
raised in this Report.
This mutilation serves only to benefit farm handler comfort at
the expense of animal welfare. For this reason, tail docking
has been banned for decades in leading dairy markets
overseas. Even the Australian dairy industry acknowledges
it is lagging behind, with tail docking potentially undermining
public confidence in Australia’s animal welfare standards.284
An immediate, legally enforceable ban on tail docking is
necessary.
276 Dairy Australia (2012), ‘Animal Husbandry Survey 2012’ at 2. By
comparison, a survey of the Victorian dairy industry revealed that 35%
of dairy farms routinely docked cattle in 1999: Barnett et al (1999) at
742.
277 Dairy Australia (2011), ‘Myths about tail docking’ at 1.
278 Australian Dairy Farmers Limited and Dairy Australia (2013),
‘Submission on Draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and
Guidelines for Cattle’.
279 “Trimming the switch is the primary, minimally invasive alternative to tail
docking”: Sutherland and Tucker (2011) at 189. Switch trimming only
has to be conducted about 4-5 times a year: NAWAC (2005), ‘Animal
Welfare (Painful Husbandry Procedures) Code of Welfare 2005 Report’
at 51. Trimming is distinct from switch removal, which constitutes a
form of tail docking: Stafford et al (2008).
280 Dairy Australia (2011), ‘Myths about tail docking’ at 1.
281 See, for example, Stafford et al (2008) at 11.
282 See Appendix 3 of this Report on how tail docking is regulated in each
jurisdiction.
283 [S9.3], Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
284 Dairy Australia (2011), ‘Myths about tail docking’ at 1. “While the
Australian dairy industry has a favourable public image because of the
pasture-based production system, docking could detract from this
positive image”: Barnett et al (1999) at 742.
41
3. Husbandry Practices
3.3Calving Induction
Calving induction is the use of hormone treatment to
unnaturally induce labour in pregnant cows. While
this practice affects only a small percentage of dairy
cows, the welfare implications are significant.
Calving induction is the practice of forcing cows to begin labour
prematurely through the injection of hormones which replicate
the body’s natural signals to prepare for birth.285
The procedure can be detrimental to mother and calf alike,
increasing the risk of cows suffering infectious disease and
death. Induced calves are also at risk of being still born or born
prematurely and subsequently killed immediately after birth.286
Dairy Australia reported in 2012 that 20% of farms used
induction, but only 2.1% of dairy cows in Australia are
induced.287 With 1.63 million productive dairy cows in Australia
in 2012, 2.1% indicates that roughly 34,230 cows were
induced that year.288
Recent estimates from dairy veterinarians in 2013 indicate this
figure to be almost double at 4% of the national herd, with
around 66,000 cows estimated as being induced.289 Why induce?
Calving induction can be used by veterinarians to treat overdue
cows and hasten calving to address prenatal health concerns.292
In the dairy industry, however, induction is commonly used as a
tool for herd management to force early births.
As most modern dairy farms run on a regimented schedule, if
a pregnant cow is due to give birth out of line with the rest of
her herd, a farmer may choose to induce the birth of her calf
early.293
Australian farmers may use this to ensure that the annual
period where pasture is most abundant coincides with the time
when all the cows in the herd require the most food.294 This
means that all cows are able to produce the maximum amount
of milk possible for the longest possible time, rather than
some calving later in the season and having shorter periods of
lactation before being dried off.
Additional on-farm benefits of induced calving can include
higher milk production by inducing late cows early thereby
gaining an extra months’ production from late cows at the start
of the season.295
Calving induction is generally opposed as a standard husbandry
tool, but remains legal regardless of whether it is medically
unnecessary or could adversely affect cow and calf welfare.290
Under the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, which are
intended to replace the Cattle Code, calving induction is only
permitted under veterinary advice.291 While this is promising,
the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines do not expressly
require calving induction to be performed only for therapeutic
reasons, meaning that induction could potentially continue to
be used as a herd management tool.
42
285 The types of hormones used may include corticosteroids, estrogens
or prostaglandins, which cause the cervix to dilate: see, Lewing et
al (1985), at 318; Victorian Department of Environment and Primary
Industries (2008), ‘Calving Induction in Dairy Cows’.
286 See, for example, Morton and Butler (1995a), at 5-7; Mansell et al
(2006), at 312-16; Victorian Department of Environment and Primary
Industries (2008), ‘Calving Induction in Dairy Cows’; Morton and Butler
(1995b), at 1-4.
287 Dairy Australia (2012), ‘Animal Husbandry Survey 2012’, at 3.
288 Dairy Australia (2012), ‘Australian Dairy Industry in Focus 2012’, at ii.
289 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013), ‘Cattle Standards
and Guidelines - Induction of Calving Discussion Paper’, at 1. This
summation is based on the fact that Australia had 1.65 million dairy
cows in 2013, 66,000 of which were estimated to have been induced.
See, Dairy Australia (2013), ‘Australian Dairy Industry in Focus 2013’.
290 See Appendix 3 of this Report on how calving induction is regulated in
each jurisdiction.
291 S7.4, Cattle Standards and Guidelines.
292 Cattle Standards & Guidelines Writing Group (2013), ‘Cattle Standards
and Guidelines - Induction of Calving Discussion Paper’ at 1.
293 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Reducing Calving Induction’; Victorian
Department of Environment and Primary Industries (2008), ‘Calving
Induction in Dairy Cows’; Mansell et al (2006) at 312.
294 Morton and Butler, (1995a) at 5-7; Mansell et al, (2006), at 312.
295 Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (2008),
‘Calving Induction in Dairy Cows’; Cattle Standards & Guidelines
Writing Group (2013), ‘Cattle Standards and Guidelines - Induction of
Calving Discussion Paper’ at 1.
The term ‘downer cow’ generally applies to cattle that are recumbent (lying down on chest or side) and unable to
rise.296 Most cows become downers due to difficulties arising during or around calving.297
FACT BOX 7
Downer cows
Once a cow is down she is likely to suffer secondary complications – such as nerve or muscle damage, dislocated
hips or exposure – which can worsen her health, or result in her death or early slaughter.298
For this reason, Dairy Australia recommends lifting and moving downed cows so they can be confined undercover on
soft bedding and nursed back to health. If a cow is not able to move at all throughout her recovery, she will need to
be rolled or lifted manually to avoid the formation of pressure sores and further muscle damage.299
Dairy Australia is supporting research into downer cow management by veterinarian Dr Phil Poulton. While Dairy
Australia emphasises that nursing care is critical to the recovery of downer cows, Dr Poulton has found that about
half the sick cows he saw last year were being nursed unsatisfactorily by farmers, which would significantly affect
their rate of survival.300
296
297
298
299
300
Dairy Australia, ‘Managing Downer Cows’ (2014).
For causes of cows becoming down, see Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Downer Cows’.
FarmOnline (2013), ‘Improve Downer Cow Welfare’, The Australian Dairyfarmer, 11 July 2013.
Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Managing Downer Cows’.
FarmOnline (2013), ‘Nursing Improves Survival ‘, Stock & Land, 21 June 2013.
Welfare concerns
There are clear welfare concerns associated with the use of
calving induction.
Many calves are stillborn or die shortly after birth,301 while
mother cows are susceptible to dangerous health complications
as a result of induction.302
To minimise the risks associated with induction, the Victorian
Department of Environment and Primary Industries sets
limitations as to how early cows should be induced, stating that
they must be at least six months pregnant and that induction
“should be used in a planned manner on late calving cows”.303
Despite this, concerns associated with calf induction persist.
They include:304
301 Mansell et al (2006), at 315; Morton and Butler (1995a), at 5-7.
302 RSPCA (2013), ‘What Is Calving Induction?’; Morton and Butler
(1995b), at 1-4; Victorian Department of Environment and Primary
Industries (2008), ‘Calving Induction in Dairy Cows’; Mansell et al
(2006), at 312-316.
303 Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries (2008),
‘Calving Induction in Dairy Cows’.
304 Ibid; RSPCA (2013), ‘What Is Calving Induction?’.
• Premature and unnecessary calf death – calves who
have been induced are more likely to be stillborn or born
prematurely (and then killed immediately), compared with
non-induced calves.305 A large number of these calves will
be killed on-farm by having their skulls bludgeoned with
a blunt instrument (blunt force trauma). See Chapter 2.2:
Bobby Calves for more details.306
• Retained foetal membrane – the procedure increases
the risk that the foetal membrane (or placenta) is not
expelled after birth.307 Cows suffering from retained
foetal membranes are at an increased risk of developing
diseases (such as metritis, ketosis and mastitis) and
possible abortion in later pregnancies.308
305 See also Morton and Butler (1995b), at 6. In a study of Australian and
New Zealand dairy cows, only 64.6% of induced calves were born
alive. By way of contrast, 96% of non-induced calves were born alive:
Mansell et al (2006), at 312-13.
306 Refer to Chapter 2.2: Bobby Calves for a discussion on the welfare
concerns of the use of blunt force trauma.
307 See also, Mansell et al (2006), at 314. Further, the risk of retained
foetal membranes is likely to be understated, as the condition is not
externally visible in 30-50% of affected cows: Morton and Butler
(1995b), at 4.
308 See also, The Cattle Site (2014), ‘Retained Placenta’.
43
3. Husbandry Practices
• Maternal death – induction weakens a cow’s immune
system, which means she could die from infection, such
as those contracted from a retained foetal membrane.
• Calving difficulty – smaller calves may not be positioned
correctly at calving, which can create complications
during birth and increase risk of infection. A difficult
birth can be longer and more painful than an unassisted,
natural birth but pain relief is not mandatory.309
Due to these welfare concerns, animal welfare and veterinary
groups here in Australia have been critical of the practice.310
Groups such as the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA)311
and the RSPCA312 assert that calving induction shouldn’t be
relied upon as a standard management tool.
Critically, although a veterinarian may prescribe and administer
the corticosteroid and/or prostaglandin drugs necessary to
induce early calving, veterinarians may not be physically
present at the time of calving when the risks associated with
induction are at their peak.
It is encouraging to see that the Australian dairy industry313 and
some state governments314 have reflected this sentiment with
an acknowledgement that calving induction shouldn’t be used
in place of good pregnancy management which encourages
healthy, natural pregnancies without the need for intervention.
In saying that, serious concerns remain that calving induction
continues to be performed as a matter of routine on farms, and
that the practice of attempting to induce calves for the sake of
timing and milk production is still legal in Australia.
The regulation of calving induction
The Cattle Code states that: “induction of birth must only take
place under veterinary advice and supervision in accordance
with relevant State or Territory legislation,”315 although this is
only mandatory in South Australia.316
44
309 See also, Barrier et al (2012), at 209-17.
310 Such as Animals Australia, Australian Veterinary Association (AVA),
Dairy Australia, RSPCA, and WAP (formerly WSPA). See, Animals
Australia (2013), at 19; WSPA (2013), at 12; RSPCA (2013), ‘What Is
Calving Induction?’; AVA (2002), ‘8.1 Induction of Parturition’.
311 AVA (2002), ‘8.1 Induction of Parturition’.
312 RSPCA (2013), ‘What Is Calving Induction?’.
313 “The dairy industry policy supports the implementation of agreed
management strategies to achieve a reduction in the requirement for
calving induction”: Australian Dairy Farmers Limited and Dairy Australia
(2013), ‘Submission on Draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and
Guidelines for Cattle’ at 2.
314 For example, Victorian Department of Environment and Primary
Industries (2008), ‘Calving Induction in Dairy Cows’.
315 [5.10.5], Cattle Code.
316 Refer to Appendix 1 of this Report on the way in which the Cattle
Code and the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines regulate calving
induction. Appendix 2 details the treatment of the Cattle Code in each
Australian jurisdiction. Appendix 3 also details how this practice is
The Cattle Code further states calves from induced births
require extra attention, and that bobby calves who are not
strong enough should be humanely killed as soon as possible
or kept until they are strong enough to meet sale yard or
transportation standards.317 These requirements are only
expressed as non-mandatory guidelines.
Under the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, which is
intended to replace the Cattle Code, calving induction is only
permitted under veterinary advice.318 It also contains the
following non-mandatory guidelines (emphasis added):
• Herd management strategies should be adopted to
minimise or eliminate the need to induce calving.319
• Cows subject to an induction program should be
inspected twice daily. Any cow requiring calving
assistance or treatment should receive this intervention
without delay.320
• Calving induction should only be done when necessary for
the welfare of the individual cow or calf.321
While laws which necessitate veterinary oversight are positive,
it is not known whether that oversight actually takes place on
all dairy farms.
More importantly, neither the Cattle Code nor the Draft Cattle
Standards & Guidelines go far enough in expressly prohibiting
the routine use of calving induction as a herd management
tool to maximise milk production. Calving induction should only
be performed by and on the advice of a veterinarian, and only
where this procedure is deemed necessary for cow and/or calf
welfare.
It should be noted that the New Zealand dairy industry has
been working to phase out the routine use of calving induction,
with routine induction banned by 1 June 2015.322
currently regulated in each Australian jurisdiction.
317 [5.10.5], Cattle Code.
318 S7.4, Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
319 G7.8, Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
320 G7.9, Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
321 G7.10, Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
322 Dairy New Zealand (2014) ‘Change to induction rules for 2015 - no
routine inductions’.
Over the past 50 years, the reproductive capability of dairy cows has changed dramatically as the dairy industry has
become more focused on breeding for high milk yield.323
FACT BOX 8
Other breeding technologies
Oftentimes the better a cow is at producing high volumes of milk, the more difficulty she may have in naturally
conceiving a calf.324 For this reason, reproduction has become a highly technical process as farmers increasingly rely
on the use of breeding technologies to maximise reproductive efficiency and output.
Selective breeding
Selective breeding is the process of breeding animals for particular genetic traits to produce offspring who also show
those characteristics.
While this method has long been used safely to change the physical and temperament characteristics of an entire
herd or breed over time, a number of welfare risks associated with selective breeding persist. The continuous inbreeding of particular genes lowers the genetic diversity of the herd and runs the risk of breeding some genes out of
the gene pool altogether. This has the potential of reducing the herd’s resilience to environmental factors, such as food
shortages or a disease epidemic.325
Further, studies have shown that the combination of selective breeding narrowly focused on production traits and the
intensification of animal production systems have resulted in poor welfare outcomes for cows, such as increase in
genetic disorders, metabolic stress, lameness, mastitis, reduced fertility and longevity. Selective breeding for better
animal welfare traits could prove successful in improving this situation.326
Copyright © www.TheBeefSite.com - Reproduced with Permission
Artificial insemination
Figure 6.
Artificial insemination
of dairy cows327
323 Lucy (2001), at 1277.
324 Ibid.
325 Oltenacu and Broom (2010), at 39.
326 Ibid, at 40 and 46.
327 The Beef Site (2012), ‘Artificial Insemination for Beef Cattle’.
45
FACT BOX 8
3. Husbandry Practices
Other breeding technologies (continued)
Artificial insemination (AI) is a highly invasive procedure which typically involves a farmer manually inserting semen
directly into the uterus of a female cow using their hand and an applicator gun (see image). The intensive nature of the
dairy industry means that AI is now used widely across Australia.328
AI speeds up the process of selective breeding by offering farmers the opportunity to choose semen from bulls with
desirable genetic traits.
The practice of selective breeding through AI has been made even more accurate and efficient through the use of
genomics, which allows farmers to immediately evaluate the genetic traits of a cow or bull through DNA profiling.
Animals who are considered genetically desirable can have their DNA placed on a genomics register from which
farmers can purchase semen samples to develop their herds.329
Embryo transfer
Embryo transfer is the process of removing embryos from a donor and placing them into the uterus of a surrogate to
establish a pregnancy. The surrogate mother then gives birth to a calf who is genetically unrelated to her.330
The purpose of embryo transfer is to speed up the process of selective breeding within a herd, as any female cow
can act as surrogate for calves with preferred DNA.331 Some donor cows have passed enough embryos on to enable
more than 50 surrogate pregnancies in a year.332
The practice of embryo transfer can increase the risk of birthing difficulties for surrogate cows, particularly where
embryos are selected which are likely to produce calves of a size or shape which will cause problems at calving
(that is, the calf may be too large to pass naturally through the surrogate cow’s birth canal). This increases the
reliance on caesarean sections for embryo transfer cows, the higher risk of twin births, and the adverse effects of
the continued use of superovulatory drugs.333
It is important to remember that these breeding technologies have contributed to the massive increase in milk
production of the modern dairy cow. As has been detailed throughout this Report, this concentration on milk yield
has contributed to a loss of fitness through increased predisposition to infertility, metabolic disorders, mastitis and
lameness, all of which cause great distress and suffering to dairy cows on a daily basis.334
328 PricewaterhouseCoopers (2011), ‘The Australian Dairy Industry - The Basics’ at 6.
329 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Genomics’.
330 Larson (2011), ‘Embryo Transfer in the Dairy Herd’.
331 Ibid.
332 Selk (2014), Embryo transfer in cattle, Oklahoma State University Service, at 2.
333 Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC), ‘Report on the Welfare of Dairy Cattle: Embryo Transfer’.
334 Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden (Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2005) at 134.
46
Alternatives to calving induction
Concluding remarks
Some studies have shown that the cost of the numerous welfare
complications incurred by calving induction can outweigh the
economic benefits of the procedure.335 In recognition of this,
the Australian dairy industry has stated that it intends to reduce
the need for induction by implementing strategies to improve
reproductive management systems. These strategies may
include improving herd fertility to ensure mating occurs at the
desired time of year and moving from annual seasonal calving
patterns to split or year round systems.336
Illness, serious health complications and both maternal
and calf deaths are very real welfare concerns of calving
induction. This procedure can result in the premature birth
of calves who, if they survive the birth, may be deemed too
weak to survive and subsequently killed on farm. This is an
upsetting reality of dairy farming and one that should be
prohibited.
While this position is promising, any such strategy to improve
reproductive management systems would likely involve
hormonal control of reproduction by intravaginal hormone
releasing coils, in itself potentially stressful to the cows.337
Accordingly, the dairy industry must support a complete
prohibition on the use of calving induction.
It is important to remember that calving induction is a
procedure that should only be used for the benefit of the
mother cow and calf’s safe birth, not as a farm management
tool to align herd births or increase milk yield.
We have seen that there are significant potential welfare
issues for both cow and calf with this practice when used
inappropriately which render it unjustifiable and unethical.
Recommendations
Calving induction should only be performed by and on the
advice of a veterinarian, and only where this procedure is
deemed necessary for cow and/or calf welfare. Further,
the routine use of calving induction (for example, as a
management tool to achieve a synchronised herd calving
pattern or to maximise milk production from pasture) should
be expressly prohibited.
335 Macmillan (2002), at 69, Hayes et al (1998), at 100.
336 Dairy Australia, ‘Reducing Calving Induction’ (2014). Such initiatives
include the ‘InCalf program’.
337 Advice from Professor Clive Phillips BSc, MA, PhD.
47
The Life of the Dairy Cow
photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
4.Injuries and Disease
48
4.1lameness
Lameness is a serious issue within the Australian
dairy industry, and indeed dairy industries
worldwide.338 This disorder can result in the cow
experiencing significant pain and discomfort, as
well as increased risk of early slaughter.339
Lameness is a structural or functional condition which usually
affects a cow’s limbs inhibiting her ability to walk, stand up, lie
down or move around.340
Lameness can be a result of either excessive wear, foot lesions,
or infectious disease such as foot rot.341 The condition can be
very painful for a cow, and if chronic, can see her sent to an
early slaughter.
Despite the dairy industry seeking to address lameness
through R&D initiatives,342 Australian dairy cows continue to
suffer from this condition, particularly in larger herds, requiring
urgent improvements both at a farm and industry level.
The causes of lameness
In pasture-based systems like Australia, the causes of lameness
may include one or more of the following major risk factors:343
• Poor maintenance and design of the tracks which cows
use to move around the farm;344
• Farm handlers moving cows along the track or yard too
quickly;345
• Nutritional effects;348
• Stress;
• Presence of, and exposure to, infectious agents like
bacteria and fungus;349 and
• Genetic factors, such as breeding for high yield milk
rather than disease resistance.
All of these factors will contribute to the incidence and
prevalence of lameness in a herd. In Australia’s pasturebased system, the most likely on-farm factors are poor track
maintenance350 and farm handler impatience when moving
cows on the track and in yards.
These factors will typically contribute to foot lesions which are
the most common cause of lameness. Knott et al note that
a major cause of lameness is the reduction in the supportive
capacity of the connective tissue of the hoof wall around the
time of calving.351 This results in the pedal bone sinking or
rotating, which places significant stress on the sole of the
foot.352
It is not surprising then that cows are more susceptible to
the conditions that cause lameness in the period of calving
when the pressure on their bodies is at its peak.353 Given
that dairy cows are repeatedly impregnated throughout their
lives, mother cows are constantly under the types of physical
stressors which cause lameness.354
• Cows spending extended periods of time on hard
concrete surfaces;346
• Exposure to excessive moisture including standing in
manure or on wet floors;347
338 Cook and Nordlund (2009), at 360.
339 Farm Animal Welfare Council (FAWC) (2009), ‘Opinion on the Welfare
of the Dairy Cow’ at 5; Compassion in Food Business (2013), ‘Welfare
of the Dairy Cow: Information Sheet 3’ at 6.
340 European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (2009), at 137.
341 Von Keyserlingk et al (2009) at 4103.
342 Initiatives include an annual Animal Husbandry Survey, on-farm
‘Healthy Hoof Workshops’, the ‘CowTime’ program which outlines
design specifications for optimal infrastructure, and an online tool to
calculate the costs of lameness.
343 List of factors derived from Malmo (2014), ‘Prevention of Lameness in
Dairy Herds’.
344 See also FAWC (2009), ‘Opinion on the Welfare of the Dairy Cow’ at 5.
345 See also Cook and Nordlund (2009), at 366.
346 See also Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden, (Oxford,
UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd, 2005) at 142.
347 See also Ward (2009), at 139.
348 Cook and Nordlund (2009), at 361.
349 For example, if there is a break in the integrity of the skin, bacteria or
a fungus can enter causing a lesion (such as an ulcer or abscess) that
can then cause lameness. Further, bacterial infection can be largely
prevented by keeping cows’ feet clean and dry. See Webster, Animal
Welfare: Limping Towards Eden at 141-42.
350 Laneway maintenance was cited as a priority prevention measure in
2012: Dairy Australia (2012), ‘Animal Husbandry Survey 2012’, at 3.
351 Knott et al (2007), at 278; Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare (2nd
ed; Malden, USA: Blackwell Science, 2002) at 13.
352Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare at 13.
353 Cook and Nordlund (2009), at 361-362; Knott et al (2007), at 286.
354 One study found the average time to fully recover from lameness was
27 days under ‘ideal’ pasture conditions: Cook and Nordlund (2009),
at 362. In the instance of severe ulcers, cows ideally require at least six
weeks to recover: Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden at
144.
49
4. Injuries and Disease
Lameness and pain
Critically, herd animals like cows and sheep do not naturally
show overt signs of pain because this is an indication of
weakness or vulnerability. Farmers will often interpret the lack
of observable signs as meaning the animal is not in pain, and
will fail to appropriately treat the problem or take preventative
steps to manage the causes.359
Lameness can often develop as a response to pain from injury
or disease. Foot lesions which are a common factor in many
cases of lameness can be extremely sore and the pain is only
exacerbated each time the cow is forced to bear weight on
their affected foot. As a response to pain, cows will lie down
as much as possible, may go off their food, lose weight and
fertility, not socialise and lose status in the herd.
Cows who are found to be chronically lame are often expected
to struggle on, in pain, until they are slaughtered if they cannot
be nursed back to full recovery.360
Cows who are unable to lie down because of lameness will
stand with arched backs and lowered heads in an attempt to
take the weight off their hind limbs.355 Evidence also suggests
that chronically lame cows display an increased sensitivity to
pain, or hyperalgesia.356 Like us, they do not adapt to chronic
pain, rather it gets worse over time.357
Lameness in Australia
It is difficult to know how common lameness is among dairy
cows in Australia because statistics are not routinely collected
by industry or government.
photo: Diana Simpson
“Imagine that you caught all your fingers of
both hands in a doorjamb, hard. And then you
had to walk on your fingertips… So when you
see a cow hesitating to put one foot in front
of the other, you can be sure she is feeling
excruciating pain.”358
50
355Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare at 13.
356 EFSA (2009), at 144-145.
357 Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden at 143.
358 John Webster as quoted in Masson, The Pig Who Sang to the Moon.
The Emotional World of Farm Animals (New York: Ballantine Books,
2003) at 151-152. This quote relates specifically to acute laminitis,
which is a severe but relatively uncommon cause of lameness in dairy
cows.
In 2008, lameness was estimated to affect 28% of Australian
dairy cows,361 whilst a survey of Victorian farmers conducted
in 2002 suggested the incidence of lameness in a 12 month
period was about 7.3%.362 The disparity may be attributed to
differences in defining what constitutes lameness. It is important
to note that these figures are highly likely to underestimate the
problem because there is presently no mandatory reporting or
monitoring requirements for lameness in Australia.
The drawbacks of self-reporting are highlighted by studies
from the UK, which have found that reports into lameness that
rely heavily on farmer self-reporting consistently derive the
lowest estimates of lameness.363 The Report of the European
Food Safety Authority on the effects of farming systems on
dairy cow welfare and disease also endorsed this idea: “Farmer
self-reporting of lameness should probably be considered
unreliable for research and benchmarking purposes.”364
This is not to say that farmers deliberately under-report the
condition. A more likely explanation is that they simply do not have
the time or resources to implement a lameness control strategy.365
In addition, lame cows will continue producing an acceptable
quantity of milk up until their (often) premature slaughter.366 If
farmers tend to use only functional indicators of welfare such as
high milk output, cases of lameness can be missed.
359Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden at 143.
360 EFSA (2009), at 146.
361 Fisher and Webster (2013), at 926.
362 Watson (2002), ‘Evaluation of Lameness Knowledge, Prevention and
Control Practices Undertaken in Some Dairy Herds’, at 5.
363 Research shows that lameness reported by dairy producers was 2.5
times lower than prevalence recorded by independent observers: see
Socha et al (2006); Whay et al (2003) at 201.
364 EFSA (2009), at 146.
365Webster, Animal Welfare: Limping Towards Eden at 144.
366 EFSA (2009), at 136.
It has also been suggested that part of the difficulty in early
lameness detection may come from the fact that herd sizes are
increasing, giving farmers less time to appropriately monitor
each animal.367 If this is the case, as the average herd size
continues to increase in Australia, so too would the incidence
and prevalence of lameness.
The industry response
The Australian dairy industry recognises that lameness is
a significant issue, largely because the condition carries a
huge economic cost.368 Taking account of medical treatment,
reduced milk production, reduced fertility and increased risk
of early slaughter, lameness can cost dairy farmers between
$200-$500 per lame cow each year.369
Accordingly, lameness is one of the priority areas in The
National Dairy Industry Animal Welfare Strategy.370 Dairy
Australia also states that it is working with farmers to assist
them in establishing on-farm lameness strategies and provide
on-farm management tips for reducing lameness.371
Survey results commissioned by Dairy Australia in 2013 claim
“that almost all dairy farmers have implemented a lameness
strategy on farm to prevent, identify and treat cases of
lameness”.372
According to Dairy Australia, initiatives to prevent and treat
lameness are already having an effect. They state that
“[w]hen lameness does occur, dairy farmers follow industry
recommendations and inspect the affected hoof in an attempt
to identify and address the cause of the problem as soon
as it is noticed”.373 Without reliable comparative data on the
prevalence and incidence of lameness, however, it is impossible
to assess the effectiveness of these strategies.
Here it is useful to draw from UK experiences. The Report
of the European Food Safety Authority has observed “that
despite the considerable investment of time and money in
research, technology and information transfer, there has been
no significant reduction in the prevalence of lameness in dairy
cows in the last 20 years.”374
367 Von Keyserlingk et al (2009), at 4103.
368 Knott et al (2007), at 277; Ward (2009), at 139; Dairy Australia (2014),
‘Reducing Lameness’.
369 Dairy Australia (2012), ‘Managing in Wet Conditions’.
370 Australian Dairy Farmers (2009), ‘The National Dairy Industry Animal
Welfare Strategy’ at 1, 4.
371 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Reducing Lameness’.
372Ibid.
373Ibid.
374 EFSA (2009), at 150.
It is suggested that this has been mainly due to a failure of
farmers to implement adequate prevention and treatment
measures due to the cost and time involved, and the lack of a
tangible financial incentive to do so.375
The regulation of lameness
It is an offence in most jurisdictions to fail to adequately seek
veterinary treatment for sick or injured animals,376 and the
failure to provide medical treatment where it is reasonable or
necessary would likely fall under the general cruelty provisions
in state and territory-based cruelty legislation.
The Cattle Code provides guidelines to assist farmers in
preventing and managing lameness, stating that, “depending
on management requirements, cattle should be confined on
concrete surfaces as briefly as possible” and that “artificial
floors should be non-slip, non-abrasive, and easy to clean and
dry”. It also states that “gravel tracks to and from paddocks,
sheds or dairies should be maintained adequately to avoid
excessive hoof wear and consequent lameness” and that
“cattle with worn hooves should not be forced to walk on rough
tracks” (emphasis added).377
As previously noted, these guidelines are unenforceable, and
couched in subjective language (such as “should”) which
leaves compliance with their terms at the discretion of farmers.
Further, the Cattle Code is only mandatory in South Australia.
The Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, which is intended to
replace the Cattle Code, also makes it mandatory for a person
in charge to “ensure appropriate treatment for sick, injured or
diseased cattle at the first reasonable opportunity” (emphasis
added).378 It also provides the following non-mandatory
guidelines for the management of lameness:
• A lameness management strategy should be implemented
and should include practices for the prevention, early
detection and effective treatment.379
• Lameness assessment and/or hoof inspections should be
conducted regularly and hoof trimming carried out when
necessary.380
375Ibid.
376 See, for example, s 5(3)(c) Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act 1979
(NSW); s 17(3)(a)(iv) Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld); s 8(2)
(g) Animal Welfare Act 1993 (TAS); s 9(1)(i) Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals Act 1986 (Vic).
377 Cattle Code, [4.5]. The equivalent Victorian provision is [9.3] Code of
Accepted Farming Practice for the Welfare of Cattle.
378 Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, [S3.3].
379 Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, [G9.3].
380 Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, [G9.4].
51
4. Injuries and Disease
• The surfaces of yards, pens, tracks and laneways should
be constructed and maintained to minimise the risk of
lameness, slips and falls.381
• Cattle should be handled quietly and calmly, taking into
account their flight zone and natural herding instinct to
minimise stress during handling. Allowances should be
made for cattle with special needs such as young calves,
lame cattle and bulls.382
Recommendations
At a regulatory level, the non-mandatory guidelines in the
Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines (as set out above) must
be made mandatory. In their current form, the guidelines are
unenforceable and do not reflect the severity of the welfare
concerns associated with lameness.
As previously indicated, a key concern is the lack of
accurate and independent industry data on the incidence
and prevalence of lameness in Australia. Without this
information, it is difficult to analyse the effectiveness of
current prevention strategies, or for industry to identify areas
for improvement. Mandatory auditing and reporting at a
national level is necessary in this area, with this information
collated on a centralised database. To ensure accuracy in
reporting, an independent body may be responsible for the
collection of this data.
Industry must also invest in specific training for farmers
and stockpersons to recognise when a cow is suffering
from the early stages of lameness, including detecting
changes in her gait. This training should be mandatory for all
Australian dairies. There is also promise in the development
of automated milking technologies, where lame cows could
be identified through changes in their weight distribution
and how they are positioning themselves during milking.383
It is important to remember that lameness is exacerbated by
the genetic selection of dairy cows for their high milk yield.
Industry should invest in, and promote, the use of breed
selection which takes into account positive animal welfare
traits, including resistance to lameness, not just productive
output.
Implementing a National Dairy Industry Licensing Scheme
and national assurance schemes could be beneficial in
addressing lameness in Australia. See Chapter 6.2: The
Need for Reform for a further discussion on these points.
52
381 Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, [G4.3].
382 Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, [G5.1].
383 Von Keyserlingk et al (2009), at 4103.
Concluding remarks
Lameness is a major issue for the Australia dairy industry,
inflicting significant pain and discomfort for cows that, if
chronic, can result in early slaughter.
Despite the above recommendations that may help to
improve the situation, it is important to remember that
lameness is an inherent consequence of high-production
commercial dairying.
Given that cows are more susceptible to lameness when
calving, repeated pregnancies, combined with large udders
and poor animal husbandry, all make lameness and the
consequent pain an inevitable part of the Australian dairy
industry.
The trend towards greater milk yield and larger herd sizes
could mean this painful condition will remain a major cause
of suffering for the dairy cow.
4.2mastitis
Mastitis is a common disease which affects the
udders of commercial dairy cows.384 Research
shows that even a mild case of mastitis can make
daily activities painful and distressing.385
Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary gland caused by
the invasion of bacteria into the udder via the teat canal.386
The disease can be transmitted contagiously between cows
or caused by environmental factors, such as poor hygiene,
which increases the risk of exposure to the bacteria that cause
mastitis.387 Once entering the body, the bacteria can multiply,
causing an infection which may result in a painful, inflamed
udder.388
The RSPCA estimates that around 10-15% of Australian
dairy cows are affected by clinical mastitis.389 Industry efforts
to address this problem, although significant, have focused
mainly on the economic implications of the disease rather than
its effect on cow welfare.390
Increasing milk demands, forced repeated pregnancies and
genetic selection to favour production traits over welfare (such
as oversized, pendulous udders) have resulted in mastitis
becoming a widespread problem in the dairy industry.391
The causes of mastitis
Contagious mastitis is usually caused by the spread of bacteria
between cows. This commonly happens at the time of milking
when cows can be exposed to infected milk on milkers’ hands,
cleaning towels or teatcups.392
Environmental mastitis can result from exposure to bacteria in
soil and manure (which are the primary sources of exposure of
384 Medrano-Galarza et al (2012), at 6994.
385 Fitzpatrick et al (1998). at 42.
386 European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) (2009), at 150; Fitzpatrick et al
(1998), at 37.
387 EFSA (2009), at 150 and 155; Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare
(2nd ed; Malden, USA: Blackwell Science), at 14; Farm Animal Welfare
Council (FAWC) (2009), ‘Opinion on the Welfare of the Dairy Cow’ at
6. An Australian study found that 90-93% of mastitis in intensive farms
was caused by environmental pathogens, which suggests that hygiene
is of great importance: see, Shum et al (2009), at 473.
388 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Countdown 2020 - Farm Guidelines for Mastitis
Control’, at 3; EFSA (2009), at 150.
389 RSPCA (2013), ‘What Is Mastitis in Dairy Cows?’; EFSA (2009), at 150.
390 See, for example, Dairy Australia (2013), ‘What Is Mastitis’ (section
entitled “Why is mastitis control important”).
391 Advice from Professor Clive Phillips BSc MA Phd.
392 Dairy Australia (2013), ‘What Is Mastitis’.
dairy cows to environmental pathogens),393 as well as bacteria
in calving pads and bedding materials.394 Housed cows tend to
be more at risk to environmental mastitis than grazing cows.395
Cleanliness is a major factor in preventing the spread of
contagious and environmental mastitis and good animal
husbandry practices, such as thorough inspection and cleaning
of the cow’s udder, machinery and their environment, can
significantly reduce the incidence of mastitis.396
Cows who have just given birth and transition cows (namely,
cows between lactations) are at particular risk of developing
mastitis.397 This can be due to the stresses associated with
parturition (labour and giving birth) and the onset of lactation,
which can significantly reduce their immune response to
infection of the mammary gland by bacteria. In mid lactation,
this may cause a relatively mild localised mastitis. In the first
days of lactation, however, it can lead to death from septicaemia
(blood poisoning).
Infections from environmental mastitis bacteria are also
heightened during calving when udders are wet and more
exposed to mud and manure.398 This may be exacerbated
by the changing physicality of the modern dairy cow. Genetic
selection for increased milk production has caused radical
changes to the shape and size of cows’ udders which are now
oversized and pendulous. A pendulous udder is more vulnerable
to mastitis, as it is more likely to pick up bacteria from dirt and
mud,399 and the teatcups may not function properly.400
“Through genetic selection, advances in milking
technology and improved nutrition, the bovine
mammary gland yields far more milk than is
needed to nourish the newborn calf.”401
393 De Vries et al (2012), at 5730.
394 EFSA (2009), at 150; Contreras and Rodriguez (2011), at 343; Shum
et al (2009), at 471.
395 Dairy Australia (2013), ‘What Is Mastitis’.
396 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Countdown 2020 - Farm Guidelines for Mastitis
Control’.
397 See, Contreras and Rodriguez (2011), at 346, 49; Von Keyserlingk et
al (2009), at 4103; Dairy Australia (2013), ‘Countdown 2020 - Farm
Guidelines for Mastitis Control’; De Vries et al (2012) at 5730-39.
398 Advice from Professor John Webster PhD.
399 EFSA (2009), at 150; Sharif and Muhammad (2009), at 145.
400 Advice from Professor Clive Phillips BSc MA Phd.
401 EFSA (2009), at 150; Dairy Australia (2013), ‘What Is Mastitis’.
53
4. Injuries and Disease
Pain and distress during mastitis
Mastitis can vary from severe clinical mastitis where the cow
is extremely ill to the point where her udder may become
gangrenous, to subclinical mastitis where there are no
observable changes in the cow or her udder, though there are
changes in milk composition. In some cases, especially if left
untreated, severe mastitis may result in the death of the cow.402
Research conducted by Fitzpatrick et al strongly suggests
that cows with mastitis have increased sensitivity to pain,
even when the mastitis is mild or moderately severe. Treating
cows with mild mastitis using a single intravenous injection of
a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) combined with an
antibiotic may provide short-term relief, although this was not
effective for moderately severe cases.403
“Burning, throbbing and the relevant quarter
of the udder would be extremely sensitive to
touch, causing her much pain if knocked.”404
Common symptoms of clinical mastitis include abnormalities
in the udder (such as swelling, heat, hardness, redness, or
pain) and the milk (such as a watery appearance, flakes of
blood, clots, or pus). Other symptoms may include an increase
in body temperature, lack of appetite, sunken eyes, diarrhoea
and dehydration.405
As mastitis infections can be very costly to individual farmers
there is a temptation to send ‘repeat offenders’ to the
slaughterhouse. In Europe, for example, about 9% of premature
culling is attributed to mastitis.409
How common is it?
While mastitis control strategies have been implemented by
the Australian dairy industry since the 1960s, the disease
remains common.410
The extent of the problem is difficult to measure because the
Australian dairy industry does not provide current data on the
incidence and prevalence of mastitis among Australian dairy
herds.411 Significant industry investment into preventative
schemes,412 however, suggests that farmers need support to
better deal with mastitis.
The RSPCA estimates clinical mastitis affects around 10-15%
of Australian dairy cows,413 an increase from a rate of 6%
recorded in 2004/5 by the Australian Bureau of Agricultural
and Resource Economics and Sciences (ABARES).414 Rates of
subclinical mastitis have been reported as high as 28.9% in
New South Wales.415
Dairy Australia calculates that more than $150 million is lost to
Australian farmers each year through poor udder health, with
mastitis being the major cause of this loss.416
Cows suffering from mastitis may also display reduced mobility
as a result of ill-health or the pain of an infected udder.406
Some cows suffering from mastitis may also spend less time
lying down, lie only on one side and appear restless during
milking.407 Heart rate, rectal temperature and respiratory rates
have also been shown to increase with the severity of the
disease.408
54
402 Ibid; Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Countdown 2020 - Farm Guidelines
for Mastitis Control’, at 5; RSPCA (2013), ‘What Is Mastitis in Dairy
Cows?’.
403 Fitzpatrick et al (1998), at 36-44.
404 Advice from Professor Clive Phillips, BSc MA Phd.
405 Dairy Co (2014), ‘Symptoms of Mastitis’; EFSA (2009), at 150.
406 See DairyCo (2014), ‘Symptoms of Mastitis’.
407 Medrano-Galarza et al (2012), at 7000-01.
408 EFSA (2009), at 153.
409 FAWC (2009), at 6.
410 Charman et al (2012). In Australia, a long history of mastitis initiatives
demonstrates the significance of the disease. The Countdown 2020
program was launched in 1998, but was preceded by various attempts
to introduce an effective management plan since the 1960s. Mastitis
prevention and management research continues today, as the disease
is still acknowledged as a major cost to the Australian dairy industry:
see Malmo (2012).
411 Plozza et al (2011), at 41.
412 Such as Countdown 2020: Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Managing Milk
Quality (Countdown 2020)’.
413 RSPCA (2013), ‘What Is Mastitis in Dairy Cows?’.
414 Lubulwa and Shafron (2007), ‘Australian Dairy Industry: Technology
and Farm Management Practices’, at 3.
415 The average herd prevalence of subclinical mastitis in New South
Wales between 2006 and 2009 was 28.9%. However, this average
relates to an extensive range between 11% and 43%: see, Plozza et al
(2011), at 43-44.
416 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Countdown 2020 - Farm Guidelines for Mastitis
Control’, at 1.
photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
The industry response
Dairy Australia has responded proactively to the problem of
mastitis, providing guidelines, education, milk quality awards
and funding for research projects seeking to reduce the
incidence of mastitis in Australia.
The national udder health program, Countdown 2020, provides
farmers with tools to monitor mastitis in their herds. Through
implementation of this program, the industry hopes to see 70%
of Australian dairy farms supplying milk with an annual average
bulk milk cell count of less than 250,000 cells/mL by 2017,417
although this goal is potentially over-ambitious.418 Cows with
an individual somatic cell count of over 250,000 are likely
suffering from subclinical mastitis.419
417 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Countdown 2020 - Farm Guidelines for Mastitis
Control’, at 2.
418 Advice from Professor Clive Phillips BSc, MA, Phd, who states that the
Countdown 2020 objective is extremely unlikely if not impossible, given
that in the UK, despite major advances in treatment methods, the rate
has not declined even after 50 years of determined research effort.
419 “The individual cow cell count (ICCC) indicates the likelihood of
subclinical mastitis. Uninfected cows generally have ICCC levels of
below 150,000 cells/mL. If a cow has had any ICCC above 250,000
during a lactation (a peak of 250,000 or more) she is likely to still be
infected at drying-off and require Dry Cow Treatment”: see, Dairy
Australia (2013), ‘What Is Mastitis’.
Despite the emphasis on saving money rather than animal
welfare,420 this program is a highly practical and interactive
tool to assist farmers in reducing mastitis in their herds. While
there are many dairy farmers who are committed to this task,
there will always be farms where mastitis continues to be a
constant problem.
The regulation of mastitis
As with lameness, a failure to adequately seek veterinary
treatment for sick or injured animals where it is reasonable or
necessary to do so would likely fall under the general cruelty
provisions in State-based cruelty legislation.421
The Cattle Code provides general guidelines in relation to the
management and treatment of “diseases”. Of specific relevance
to mastitis, the Cattle Code states that “milking technique must
minimise the risks of discomfort or injury to the cow and the
development and/or transmission of disease”.422 Again, the
Cattle Code generally operates as a guideline for farmers, and
with the exception of South Australia, is non-mandatory.423
420 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Countdown 2020 - Farm Guidelines for Mastitis
Control’ at 5 - see the section entitled: “Why is mastitis important?”.
421 See, for example, s 5(3)(c) Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979
(NSW); s 17(3)(a)(iv) Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld); s 8(2)
(g) Animal Welfare Act 1993 (TAS); s 9(1)(i) Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals Act 1986 (Vic).
422 Cattle Code, [5.3.2].
423 See Appendix 2 of this Report for how the Cattle Code operates in
each Australian jurisdiction.
55
4. Injuries and Disease
The Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, which is intended to
replace the Cattle Code, also makes it mandatory for a person
in charge to “ensure appropriate treatment for sick, injured or
diseased cattle at the first reasonable opportunity” (emphasis
added).424 It also provides the following non-mandatory
guidelines for the management of mastitis (emphasis added):
• Milking machinery and equipment should be regularly
tested and maintained.425
• The milking technique should minimise the risk of
discomfort, injury and disease.426
• A mastitis management strategy should be implemented
and should include practices for prevention, early
detection and effective treatment.427
There is no legal limit on the somatic cell count (SCC) for
milk available for sale in Australia. As noted above, the SCC
can be used as an indicator of the likelihood of subclinical
mastitis in dairy cows. In the European Union, Regulation (EC)
No 853/2004 provides that for raw milk to be fit for human
consumption, it must have an average SCC of less than
400,000 cells per mL.428
Recommendations
As with lameness, the non-mandatory guidelines in the
Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines (as set out above) must
be made mandatory. In their current form, the guidelines are
unenforceable and do not reflect the severity of the welfare
concerns associated with mastitis.
The incidence and prevalence of mastitis must be audited
and reported at a national level, with this information
collated on a centralised database. To ensure accuracy in
reporting, an independent body may be responsible for the
collection of this data.
The Australian dairy industry must also focus on improving
breeding technologies and encouraging farmers to select
breeding traits that improve cow welfare. The Australian
Breeding Values (ABVs) include mastitis resistance as
a management trait,429 and genetic selection can also
influence such undesirable traits as udder shape, teat
length and canal width.430 Dairy Australia and other industry
participants should actively encourage farmers through
targeted education campaigns to prioritise these traits when
developing their herds.
Implementing a National Dairy Industry Licensing Scheme
and national assurance schemes, in conjunction with regular
and independent on-farm monitoring and enforcement,
could be beneficial in addressing mastitis in Australia. See
Chapter 6.2: The Need for Reform for further discussion on
these points.
Concluding remarks
Mastitis is a problem endemic in the dairy industry,431 both
in Australia and worldwide. A diseased udder is incompatible
with the ‘feel good’ publicity and marketing images of happy
cows that are often used by the dairy industry.
Due to the extraordinary burden of milk production which
is placed on the modern dairy cow, including continual
calving, infections of the mammary gland are common. The
frequency should not, however, be used to downplay the
pain, impairment and early mortality of the afflicted cow.
High milk yield, oversized udders and repeated pregnancies
are all causes of mastitis and of her discomfort and pain. It is
time that we view mastitis in terms of the suffering it causes
her, not merely in terms of milk quality and price.
Greater emphasis must be placed on prevention, in addition
to cure. Specific training must be mandatory for farmers and
farmhands in preventing and managing mastitis amongst
herds, in recognising when a cow is suffering from mastitis
and to treat her accordingly.
56
424 Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, [S3.3].
425 Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, [G9.1].
426 Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, [G9.2].
427 Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines, [G9.5].
428 As determined by a rolling geometric average over a period of three
months, with at least one sample per month.
429 Australian Dairy Herd Improvement Scheme (2011), ‘Breeding Cows in
Australia’, at 1.
430Phillips, Cattle Behaviour and Welfare, at 75.
431 EFSA (2009), at 154.
The Life of the Dairy Cow
5.Live Exports
57
5. Live Exports
Australia is one of the few countries to live export
dairy heifers and cows overseas as breeder
stock. To feed the world’s growing appetite for
dairy products,432 these animals are shipped long
distances in stressful conditions to countries with
little or no animal welfare protections.
In 2013, Australia live exported around 850,923 cattle
overseas, the majority of whom were shipped and slaughtered
for their meat. Around 10% were dairy heifers and cows
exported from Australia as breeding stock.433 These animals
will not be initially slaughtered for their meat but instead are
used for their milk and to grow dairy herds overseas.
Live export poses serious welfare concerns both in regards
to the extreme conditions endured during the journey and
the welfare standards animals meet once they reach their
destination. Despite this, breeder animals have fewer formal
legal protections than meat animals who are exported live.
The offspring of Australian dairy cattle exported overseas have
even less protection and face an uncertain life.
The Australian live export industry
In 2013, Australia exported 79,723 dairy heifers and cows
live to foreign markets, a 4% increase on the previous year.
The majority of these were Victorian and were predominantly
exported to China (61,906), Indonesia (11,069), Thailand
(3,595) and Pakistan (1,514).434
Australian dairy heifers and cows are especially sought after
because of their high value milk production, with the export
industry now valued at approximately $172 million.435 In
response to increasing demand, the local dairy industry in
Victoria has adjusted its farming operations in recent years to
produce animals specifically for live export.436
58
432 Beldman and Daatselaar (2013), ‘Global Dairy Outlook 2012’, at 4-5.
433 Meat & Livestock Australia (2014), ‘Australian Livestock Export
Industry Statistical Review 2013’, at 2.
434 Ibid, at 3.
435 Ibid, at 2.
436 Martin et al (2007), ‘Live Cattle Export Trade: Importance of Northern
and Southern Australian Beef Industries’, at 2.
Shipping impact
The journey from farm gate to final destination is long and
arduous. Dairy heifers and cows are typically required to spend
time on road and/or rail transport to port, mandatory time
waiting before loading onto transport and on the voyage itself
– either on a plane or ship.
At sea, these animals are deprived of food and water for long
periods and commonly lose weight during the journey.437 The
stress of transportation can suppress their immune system and
potentially increase their likelihood of disease.438 Moreover, heat
stroke, trauma and respiratory disease are common causes of
mortality for animals throughout the live export journey on long
haul voyages, although mortalities en route are relatively low.439
Overseas farming conditions
The suffering of breeder animals continues once they reach
their destination.
Heifers and cows can be exported pregnant (see Fact Box 9:
Pregnant en route) or as heifers to be impregnated with their
first calf upon arrival in the importing country.
The survival rates of those calves born overseas is one of the
only useful measures available to gauge the welfare standards
of calf-rearing systems in importing countries. Surveys in
Southeast Asia reveal that pre-weaning calf mortality rates of
15-25% are reported as ‘typical’ on many tropical dairy farms,
with reports of calf deaths as high as 50%. These figures are
a strong indicator of very poor calf management,440 and in
stark contrast with the Australian pre-weaning mortality rate
of 3%.441
These high mortality rates, particularly on small holder calfrearing systems, are attributed to a variety of factors, including
humidity and temperature, poor housing and hygiene, poorly
balanced diet due to quality of available feed, insufficient
rumen (cud chewing), poor access to veterinary support and a
lack of farm handler skill and knowledge.442
437 Moran (2012a), at 17.
438Ibid.
439 Caulfield (2008), ‘Live Export of Animals’, in White and Sankoff (ed),
Animal Law in Australasia: A New Dialogue (Sydney, Australia: The
Federation Press, 2009) at 156.
440 Moran (2012b), at 57. Note that Australia exports dairy cattle to a
number of Southeast Asian countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia,
Thailand and the Philippines.
441 Moran (2012a), at 57.
442 Ibid, at 58.
Breeder heifers and cows are regularly transported overseas whilst pregnant. Exporting these animals whilst
pregnant is inherently risky. Firstly, they may give birth during the voyage. The Australian Standards for the Export
of Livestock (Version 2.3) (ASEL) requires that cows cannot be more than 190 days pregnant on boarding the ship
(the gestation period of a cow is about 280 days).443 The actuality, as evidenced from many reports on live export
voyages published by the Department of Agriculture, is that heifers and cows in late stages of pregnancy are
regularly loaded onto live export ships and they have given birth on live export ships.444
FACT BOX 9
Pregnant en route
These animals are at risk of abortions, dystocia (difficulty giving birth) and becoming moribund due to metabolic
problems associated with pregnancy. There is also the physical risk that a pregnant animal has a greater likelihood
of falling and being unable to get back up, giving rise to a risk of trauma from the fall or from being trampled by
other animals.445
In the rare case that calves are born during transport, they will in all likelihood be housed in a tightly-packed pen
with other heifers and cows, so there is a real risk they will be trampled. Moreover, it is unlikely that live export ships
will have the capability to provide proper support and management of newborn calves.446
Alarmingly, both state veterinary authorities and the Australian Veterinary Association reported concerns about the
inadequacy of exporters’ efforts to identify pregnancy in these animals and, consequently, that many have their
pregnancy status incorrectly recorded.447
443 S1.10, ASEL.
444 Advice from Dr Heather Cambridge and Malcolm Caulfield, PhD.
445Ibid.
446Ibid.
447Ibid.
59
5. Live Exports
Welfare concerns vary between countries and can be dependent
on climate and the skill and training of farmers. For example,
many dairy farmers in tropical Asian countries run small holder
dairy farms with less than 10 milking cows, and may not have
the skills to achieve efficiency in milk production.448
Once dairy cows are ‘spent’ in destination countries, there are
also serious welfare concerns around the way in which they
are slaughtered. Many importing countries disclose very little
information about slaughter methods or guidelines used. This
lack of information is highly concerning.
Those international welfare standards that do exist are
generally lower than those that apply to animals in Australia.
For instance, we know that the pre-slaughter stunning of cows
is not a requirement under the World Organisation for Animal
Health (OIE) standards.449
Investigations have exposed cruelty to Australian cows exported
overseas. These investigations have routinely shown cruel
methods of slaughter, including the use of roping techniques,
full inversion boxes and makeshift abattoirs. There are
numerous allegations of cruelty towards Australian beef cattle
in overseas abattoirs where dairy cows are currently exported:
• Malaysia: In May 2013, Animals Australia provided
footage of cattle being handled and slaughtered
in approved slaughterhouses in contravention of
OIE standards. While the Department of Agriculture
acknowledged these non-compliances, due to the quality
of the footage provided, the investigation was unable
to confirm the tag numbers of the cattle or determine
the responsible exporter.452 Further photographs
were provided in August 2013, with cattle being
inadequately fed, injured during handling and inhumanely
slaughtered.453
• Egypt: In May 2013, Animals Australia provided footage
of cattle having their throats cut without stunning; being
stabbed in the eyes; having their leg tendons slashed
and being butchered while still alive. The Government’s
investigations found that the framework for cattle exports
to Egypt had not consistently delivered animal welfare
outcomes that conform to OIE standards, and accordingly,
suspended the trade until it reopened again in July
2014.454
• Indonesia: In February 2012, Animals Australia provided
footage of painful handling techniques (such as physical
force), the use of restraint devices that contravene OIE
standards, and one animal with a broken leg being
tortured for 26 minutes before being killed. The footage
also revealed that fully conscious cattle were slaughtered
by an average of 11 cuts to the throat, with a maximum
of 33 cuts.450 Animals Australia provided further evidence
in October 2012, this time of Australian cattle slaughtered
out of approved Indonesian abattoirs and using
‘traditional’ methods of slaughter that contravene OIE
standards.451
60
448 Moran (2013), at 90.
449 World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Terrestrial Animal Health
Code (2014) (Volume 1), Article 7.5.7 and 7.5.8.
450 See the investigation report from the Department of Agriculture (2012),
‘Investigation into a Complaint from Animals Australia Alleging NonCompliance in January 2012’.
451 See the investigation report from the Department of Agriculture (2013),
‘Allegations of Breach of Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System,
Indonesia - October 2012’.
452 See the investigation report from the Department of Agriculture (2014),
‘Compliance Investigation Report 11(a): Cattle Exported to Malaysia in
May 2013’.
453 See the investigation report from the Department of Agriculture (2014),
‘Compliance Investigation Report 19 - Cattle Exported to Malaysia’.
454 See the investigation report from the Department of Agriculture (2014),
‘Compliance Investigation Report 10: Performance of the Closed Loop
System for Cattle Exports to Egypt’.
The demand for Australian breeder dairy animals is on the rise, particularly in Asia where dairy farming is a
burgeoning industry.455
CASE STUDY 3
The China Story
China is by far the biggest importer of Australian dairy animals as the nation moves to create its own independent
and profitable dairy industry. In 2013, China imported 78% of the dairy heifers and cows Australia sent overseas
(around 59,235 animals), at a total value of around $125 million.456
China is using Australian, New Zealand and Uruguayan heifers and cows along with US bull semen to build its
national herd.457
While the animals exported from Australia to China are raised on pasture-based farming systems, Chinese milk
producers are beginning to adopt the US-style of intensive farming systems.458 Intensive dairy farms present a range
of serious welfare concerns.
According to a Wall Street Journal report on intensive dairying, “cows live in football-field-size covered sheds, rarely
venture outdoors and are milked three times a day on German-made, bovine merry-go-rounds, with automated
pumps that measure each cow’s milk flow by the second and send that data to central computers.”459
China Modern Dairy, the country’s largest milk producer, houses up to 20,000 cows within these football-field-size
covered sheds.460 As of 31 December 2013, the Group had 22 farms operating and four under construction, with
approximately 186,838 dairy cows in total.461 The organisation plans to reach 300,000 dairy cows by 2015.462 That
equates to a massive 7,950 cows per shed.
Cows who are kept in intensive systems like this are milked three times a day and kept on an intensive feeding
regime to maximise their milk yield.
The enormous pressure placed on their immune systems often results in their becoming ‘spent’ – or economically
unviable – at a very early age. Due to the stress of high production and environmental conditions, they are also at a
greater risk of lameness, disease, overcrowding and social disputes.463
455
456
457
458
459
460
461
462
463
Frangos (2013), ‘China Grows Its Dairy Farms with a Global Cattle Drive’, The Wall Street Journal, 2013.
Meat & Livestock Australia, ‘Australian Livestock Export Industry Statistical Review 2012-2013’, at 2.
Frangos (2013), ‘China Grows Its Dairy Farms with a Global Cattle Drive’.
Ibid.
Ibid.
Ibid.
China Modern Dairy (2013), ‘About Modern Dairy’.
Frangos (2013), ‘China Grows Its Dairy Farms with a Global Cattle Drive’.
World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) (2010), ‘Not on Our Cornflakes’, at 6-7.
61
5. Live Exports
The failure of regulation
Unprotected during transport
The suffering of animals involved in the live export trade is
immense. The Australian Government has introduced legislation
that has sought to prevent, or perhaps more accurately, reduce
that suffering for animals exported live for slaughter.
Much of the cruelty and welfare concerns inherent in the live
animal export trade cannot be legislated away, such as the
forced change in diet and environment, heat stress, lengthy
loading times and travel times, and the inability of our
government to protect animals beyond Australia’s coastline.
Despite this intention, however, animal suffering is and will
continue to be an inevitable part of any trade that forces
animals to endure lengthy journeys in emotionally and
physically distressing conditions, only to be worked and
slaughtered abroad in countries with substandard animal
welfare protections.
A complex legislative framework governs the trade, made up
of Commonwealth Acts, codes, memoranda of understanding,
orders and private industry codes of conduct of uncertain legal
status. The framework is inconsistent and has been described
by Malcolm Caulfield, lawyer and expert in live animal export
as:
“… a muddled mess of second-rate law, poor
and amateurish enforcement and a cynical
failure of governments and public servants to
grasp the nettle of large-scale animal cruelty in
agri-business”.464
The Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (ASEL)
specify a number of requirements relating to animal welfare
both before and during transport. While ASEL offers some
limited protection and is more detailed than the Cattle Code,
it is still highly ineffective in protecting dairy heifers and cows
during live export.
Shortcomings of the ASEL include:
• The focus of the obligations are on the exporter even
though they are not in direct control of the animals until
they reach their final destination. While in transit, animals
are in the direct control of the ship’s captain or airline.465
• While the requirements of ASEL are incorporated into
the exporter’s licence, the standards are not ‘legally
secure’, as they are orders, not legislation. These can
be made or repealed at the discretion of the Secretary
of the Department of Agriculture.466 Penalising exporters
for breaching these license conditions is also left to
the discretion of the Department of Agriculture, which
is arguably operating in a position of conflict, given its
interest in promoting live animal exports.
• The exporter is required to arrange for the livestock to
be inspected for health, welfare and fitness to travel at
various stages of transport.467
• There is no requirement for a veterinarian to be on-board
an export vessel or aircraft during the journey. Exporters
are only required to appoint an accredited veterinarian at
the discretion of the Department of Agriculture.468
62
464 Caulfield (2008), Handbook of Australian Animal Cruelty Law (Australia:
Animals Australia), at iii.
465 Caulfield (2009), ‘Live Export of Animals’, at 160.
466 Bruce (2012), Animal Law in Australia: An Integrated Approach
(LexisNexis) at 299.
467 See, for example, S2.11, S3.16, S4.8, S5.6, S6.4, ASEL; s 2.54(3)(g),
Export Control (Animals) Order 2004 (Cth).
468 S 2.48, Export Control (Animals) Order 2004 (Cth).
• There is a lack of independent third party veterinarians
overseeing the live export trade. For example, reports to
the Department of Agriculture on the health and welfare
of animals on each live export consignment is prepared
by a stockman or a ‘third party’ veterinarian (where the
veterinarian is required to be on-board the vessel at the
discretion of the Department of Agriculture), both of whom
are employed by the exporter.469
• Despite the level of animal suffering associated with
live exports, one of the only few reportable measures of
animal welfare under ASEL is based on animal mortality
rates during transport – with an “acceptable rate” of
cattle mortality being anything less than 1% (for voyages
equal to or greater than 10 days) or 0.5% (for voyages
less than 10 days).470 This mortality rate is very high.
There is simply no justification for using a fixed mortality
rate as a measure of acceptable welfare. Indeed, this is
inconsistent with state-based laws, which aims to protect
animals on an individual basis, not as a percentage.
Unprotected abroad
Breeder animals such as dairy heifers and cows are protected
under the ASEL while on board, however there are no
protections once they disembark in the importing country.
“[I]t is morally inconsistent to seek to regulate
the treatment of animals within Australia, such
as transport and slaughter, but then ignore the
treatment meted out to Australian animals on
arrival in an importing country”.471
Most Australian animals who are exported live are subject to
the Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS), a series
of regulations introduced in the wake of the 2011 Indonesia
live export cruelty exposé.
In theory, ESCAS requires an exporter to declare to the
Australian Government that their exported animals will be
traceable throughout the export process and slaughtered
under OIE recommendations.
469 S5.12 and S5.13, ASEL.
470 S5.11, ASEL.
471 Caulfield (2008), Handbook of Australian Animal Cruelty Law, at 75.
Breeder animals are exempt from ESCAS, so exported dairy
cows are not afforded even the most basic protections once
they have disembarked in destination countries.
There is no obligation on exporters to ensure that:
• Breeder animals are handled and treated humanely, in
accordance with internally approved OIE standards;
• Appropriate animal husbandry systems are in place to
ensure the welfare of breeder animals is maintained
throughout their lives;
• Internationally approved standards for animal welfare are
adhered to (OIE standards);
• Breeder animals are not subjected to cruel and
barbaric means of slaughter in unapproved foreign
slaughterhouses; and
• Reporting and independent auditing requirements are
adhered to.
In April 2013, the Industry Government Implementation Group
(IGIG) commissioned a report on whether additional protections
were needed for breeder animals exported live.472
The IGIG review identified a number of potential animal welfare
risks for breeder livestock, including slaughter through non
ESCAS pathways soon after arrival in the importing country
or at the end of productive life and poor animal husbandry
practices during productive life. This included exporters
deliberately seeking to circumvent the ESCAS requirements for
feeder/slaughter livestock exports by labelling them breeder
livestock.473
The review concluded these risks were “relatively low” in large
livestock establishments, but noted the risks were potentially
higher in smaller establishments.474
Despite this, the IGIG did not consider that these risks warranted
measures to overcome the practical difficulties of maintaining
a ‘line of sight’ for an animal that could change hands multiple
times and have a productive life of 10 years or more. The review
considered the administrative burden would likely outweigh the
value of the trade, and considered it “unreasonable for exporters
to be generally responsible for breeder livestock through to the
point of death or to be responsible for the offspring of livestock
exported from Australia”.475
472 Industry Government Implementation Group (IGIG) (2013), ‘Report to
Australian Government Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry:
Breeder Livestock Exports’, (2013) at 3-5.
473 Ibid, at 3-5.
474 Ibid, at 4.
475 Ibid, at 4.
63
CASE STUDY 4
5. Live Exports
Qatar
In 2012, ABC’s 7.30 detailed the export of a dairy herd from South Gippsland in Victoria to Qatar. Despite being
assured of the high quality conditions at the destination, when vet technician Deb Clarke visited the Qatar property
from Australia, she found it to be lacking necessary infrastructure to house the animals who did not have sufficient
access to water.
After a 10 day break from the Qatar farm, on Clarke’s return she found the animals had not been fed since her
departure and it was over 50°C in the calf unit with the animals dying or already dead.
“They were frying, literally cooking, and in those kind of temperatures of 50 plus degrees they were frying from the
inside out. It was absolutely shocking,” said Clarke.
After Clarke recommended one cow who was suffering from extreme heat exhaustion and malnutrition be
euthanised, a worker at the farm sawed the cow’s throat open with a pocket knife. In total, Clarke witnessed 64
cows die in one week.476
Following the 7.30 report, the RSPCA, the Australian dairy farmer and the vet involved filed complaints to the
Department of Agriculture.477
The investigation only addressed the condition of the animals before their export, rather than their treatment once
they arrived at their destination because, as breeder stock, they were not covered by ESCAS. The investigation found
that no regulatory action could be taken against the Australian livestock exporters because, under the Australian
regulations, they had done nothing wrong.478
476 Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) (2012), ‘Cruelty Accusations Focus Attention on Breeding Exports,’ ABC, 18 September 2012.
477 Department of Agriculture (2013), ‘Allegations of Breaches of Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock Involving Breeding Animals Exported to a
Farm in Qatar - 7 March 2013’.
478Ibid.
64
Recommendations
Concluding remarks
The Commonwealth’s attempts to regulate live animal
exports serves only to legalise and legitimise systemic
animal cruelty. Only a ban on live animal exports will put
an end to the cruelty of this trade, a position that is shared
by the vast majority of the Australian public479 including a
number of Australian politicians.
It has been shown that Australian breeder heifers and cows
have been subjected to abuse and mistreatment overseas
and it is morally reprehensible that these acts remain legal
under Australian law. If exporters or the Government are
not capable of ensuring that these animals can be treated
humanely, it should not be legal to export them overseas.
The protections which are afforded to animals exported live
should not be determined by their intended use or by the
ease with which regulations can be adhered to or enforced.
They should be determined by that animal’s ability to suffer.
As part of the Federal Government’s campaign to expand
Australia’s live export trade, in July 2014 the Minister for
Agriculture Barnaby Joyce announced that breeder animals
will now be exported to Egypt along with feeder and
slaughter animals.480
Given that the Australian live export industry and associated
stakeholders are profiting greatly from the sale of these
animals, it is not unreasonable to expect that they should
also secure the animals’ welfare in destination markets.
The live export trade to Egypt was temporarily suspended
back in 2006 after video evidence showed cows having
their tendons slashed and being stabbed in their eyes before
slaughter.481 Industry suspended the trade to Egypt again in
2013 after Animals Australia released shocking footage of
animal abuse in two Egyptian slaughterhouses.482
Critically, the latest industry self-imposed suspension was
only lifted after Australia and Egypt agreed to implement
ESCAS.483 As ESCAS doesn’t apply to breeder animals,
there is nothing to prevent Australian breeder animals from
being exposed to the same historically cruel handling and
slaughter standards that has already seen the Egyptian
trade suspended twice.
There is simply no reasonable justification to carve out
breeder animals from regulatory protections because it is
too difficult to implement – particularly where overseas
jurisdictions, like Egypt, have a bloody history of failing to
meet basic standards of animal welfare.
If it is not practicable for the welfare of breeder animals to
be legally protected overseas, or for exporters to provide
minimum guarantees as to their welfare, then the position is
clear: they simply should not be exported in the first place.
479 A survey conducted by the World Animal Protection (WAP) showed
that 67% of Australians would vote for a politician who promised to
end the live export trade, see, WAP (2013), ‘Research Shows Voters
Overwhelmingly in Favour of Live Export Phase Out’.
480 Joyce (2014), ‘A Breeding Ground for Australian Export Success’.
481 Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Cattle Exports to Egypt Set to Resume’,
SMH, 3 October 2006.
482 Ockenden (2014), ‘Industry Suspends Live Trade to Egypt’.
483 Department of Agriculture (2014), ‘2014-02 Resumption of Trade in
Livestock to Egypt’.
65
The Life of the Dairy Cow
6.Changing Industry
and Attitudes
66
6.1The Role of Consumers
Growing consumer demand for cheap dairy
products, especially within Australia, has
exacerbated pressures on both dairy farmers and
dairy cows.
Colloquially referred to as the ‘$1 Milk Wars’, the average retail
selling price for branded fresh white milk was $1.92 per litre
and private label (supermarket) fresh white milk was $1.01
per litre, at the time of publication.484 This price is reflective
of a 2011 major marketing strategy by Australia’s two largest
supermarket chains, Coles and Woolworths, to cut the cost of
milk to A$1 per litre for consumers.
Over the years, the impact of increasing consumer demand
for cheap milk has forced dairy farmers to maximise their
productive output while reducing their overall operative costs.
• Make informed choices or consider dairy alternatives
In 2013, the Federal Government’s National Health and
Medical Research Council (NHMRC) included alternatives
to dairy in their Australian Dietary Guidelines.486
Consumers can safely and easily reduce their reliance on
dairy by switching to dairy free alternatives like calcium
enriched soy, rice or oat milk.
The implications of high production dairying on the modern
dairy cow are immense and it is a critical factor in most of the
welfare concerns outlined in this Report.
The true cost of cheap milk, therefore, is ultimately paid by the
dairy cow.
What can consumers do?
Australian consumers have the right to make informed and
ethical food choices. In practical terms, ethical consumers can
take the following steps to address their concerns with the
farming of dairy cows.
• Ask dairy producers questions
If consumers are concerned about the treatment of the
cows who produce their dairy products and their calves,
they should contact the producer directly. Engaging
producers to improve on-farm welfare standards along
their supply chains is essential to achieving real change
across the industry, as outlined in Case Study 5: Nestlé
introduces global farm animal welfare standards (see next
page).
• Encourage retailers and supermarkets to offer
animal-friendly choices
Australian supermarkets have shown themselves to be
484 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Dairy Situation and Outlook: May 2014
Update’, at 9.
receptive to consumer sentiment about animal welfare,485
so any concerns about dairy farming should also be
brought to the attention of supermarkets. Consumers can
also share their concerns with their local food suppliers
and retailers, such as cafes and restaurants, and ask
them to stock more humane items or dairy alternatives.
Alternatively, individuals can cut down on the amount of
dairy they consume while also finding a dairy producer
who aligns with their ethical beliefs. A number of
consumer advocacy and animal protection groups have
prepared buyer guides that contain useful information on
the husbandry practices used by dairy producers. The
introduction of national dairy industry assurance schemes
would also assist consumers in this regard.
• Building awareness
Many Australians are unaware of the conditions in which
dairy animals live. This situation is rapidly changing, but
more needs to be done to bring the realities of dairy
farming to the mainstream.
An integral step is learning more about how food is
produced and for individuals to familiarise themselves
with the standard industry practices used in animal
husbandry.
If individuals are concerned about the issues addressed
in this Report, they can write letters to the editors of
newspapers or make calls to talk back radio about the
need for greater improvements in the animal protection
laws affecting dairy cows. Discussions with family and
friends and colleagues about these issues are also
effective in spreading awareness.
485 See, for example, Coles and Woolworths’ response to consumer
concerns about free range eggs and sow stalls: Coles (2014), ‘Better
Animal Welfare at Coles’; Woolworths Limited (2014), ‘Animal Welfare’.
486 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) (2013), ‘Eat
for Health: Australian Dietary Guidelines’, at 56.
67
CASE STUDY 5
6. Changing Industry and Attitudes
Nestlé introduces global farm animal welfare standards
In August 2014, the world’s biggest food and beverage company, Nestlé, announced plans to implement stronger
farm animal welfare standards for its thousands of suppliers globally.
This significant action followed an undercover investigation in the US, which revealed dairy cows being kicked,
beaten and even stabbed by workers on a farm which supplies dairy to Nestlé. The resulting consumer outcry and
demand for action prompted Nestlé to introduce new welfare guidelines and alternatives to painful husbandry
practices, like dehorning. The guidelines will also establish spacing requirements for the rearing pens of cows to
ensure they are not cramped and can engage in natural animal behaviour.
The agreement extended to hundreds of thousands of farms globally that supply Nestlé with its dairy, meat, poultry
and eggs. These farms have to comply with tighter animal welfare standards and independent audits to ensure the
new standards are met. World Animal Protection provides training to these independent auditors, and shadows some
farm assessments to validate the assessment process.
When a violation is identified, Nestlé will work with the supplier to improve husbandry practices. If the company is
unable or unwilling to show improvement, it will no longer be eligible to supply Nestlé with produce.487
487 Nestlé (2014), ‘Nestlé Announces Farm Animal Welfare Commitment’.
• Contact your local MP
Community input is vital for Members of Parliament (MPs)
to understand their electorate. With enough community
pressure, MPs can play an influential part in improving the
legal protections of dairy cows and their calves.
For instance, consumers can contact their local MP to
support the proposed legal reforms outlined throughout
this Report, the introduction of a National Dairy Industry
Licensing Scheme or the establishment of an Independent
Office of Animal Welfare. See Chapter 6.2: The Need for
Reform for more information.
Consumers can contact their local MP by: organising a
meeting, writing a letter, an email or making a phone call.
Information on local, state and federal politicians can be
found via http://www.gov.au/.
• Support efforts to improve welfare
Support an animal protection group financially or by
volunteering your time, services or skills.
68
6.2The Need for Reform
Given the significant welfare concerns highlighted
in this Report, it is clear that law reform is needed
to better protect the dairy cow and her calf. At
the time of writing, the Draft Cattle Standards
& Guidelines, which is intended to replace the
existing Cattle Code, is in its final stage of review.
Unfortunately, the latest draft fails to adequately
address the majority of our welfare concerns.
In addition to strengthening existing criminal law protections
and industry standards, we recognise that a multi-faceted
approach may be needed to achieve positive welfare outcomes
for dairy cows and calves. This may include the development
of a licensing scheme to regulate the dairy industry, as well
as independent assurance schemes to encourage an ethical
consumer market for dairy products.
Key legal recommendations
A summary of our key legal recommendations for reform is
provided at Table 1. Voiceless recommends that these reforms
must be addressed in existing state and territory-based animal
cruelty legislation.
TABLE 1: Summary of key legal recommendations
4 All dairy cows must be given access to outdoors to graze on pasture.
4 The Transport Standards & Guidelines must be immediately reviewed to assess the number of hours that a bobby calf
between 5 and 30 days old can go without feed.488
4 The use of blunt force trauma as a means of slaughtering bobby calves must be prohibited.489
4 All forms of dehorning and disbudding must be prohibited (both caustic and non-chemical), unless performed by and
on the advice of a veterinarian for therapeutic reasons. Where the procedure is deemed necessary, a combination of
sedation, local anaesthetic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) must be used.490
4 All forms of tail docking must be prohibited, unless performed by and on the advice of a veterinarian for therapeutic
reasons.491
4 Calving induction must be prohibited, unless performed by and on the advice of a veterinarian for therapeutic reasons.
The routine use of calving induction as a herd management tool or to maximise milk production must be expressly
prohibited.
4 The non-mandatory “guidelines” in the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines in relation to the management and
treatment of lameness and mastitis must be made mandatory.492
4 The incidence and prevalence of mastitis and lameness must be audited and reported at a national level, with
this information collated on a centralised database. To ensure accuracy in reporting, an independent body may be
responsible for the collection of this data.
4 In developing their herds, producers must take into consideration genetic traits that produce positive welfare outcomes
for cows (such as lameness and mastitis resistance, poll breeds and reduced chance of birthing difficulties), not simply
high-production traits.
4 Farmers and stockpersons must undergo formal training in the prevention and management of lameness and mastitis.
4 All live animal exports must be prohibited.
488 See Chapter 2.2: Bobby Calves for more details.
489Ibid.
490 See Chapter 3.1: Dehorning and Disbudding for more details.
491 See Chapter 3.2: Tail Docking for more details.
492 See Chapter 4.1: Lameness and Chapter 4.2: Mastitis for more details.
69
6. Changing Industry and Attitudes
Regulating by licence
One option for regulating dairy cow welfare is to implement a
licensing scheme, which could operate in conjunction with the
existing criminal law framework and replace (or incorporate by
way of licence conditions) the industry codes and standards.
Offences under the criminal law would still be necessary in
protecting against cruelty and prohibiting such practices as the
use of blunt force trauma, dehorning and disbudding, calving
induction and tail docking.
Regulation by licence has been suggested as a means of
strengthening welfare protections and increasing on-farm
compliance.493 The rationale for this is that non-compliance
under the current framework is a ‘criminal’ offence, resulting
in industry representatives arguing for lower welfare standards
at the time of drafting to minimise their risk of prosecution.
Remedies for breach in criminal law are also seen as ‘backward
looking’, in that they penalise the offender without necessarily
focusing on improving future welfare outcomes.494
A licensing scheme, on the other hand, would involve dairy
farmers expressly committing or ‘opting in’ to a regulatory
scheme in order to participate in the dairy industry. By making
compliance with licence conditions a requirement for engaging
in the dairy industry, regulators are able to create a privilege
that can be revoked in the case of non-compliance.495
Licence conditions should be developed in consultation
with independent veterinary experts, with breaches of these
conditions resulting in remedial action which could include the
issuing of warnings, consultation and education for minor noncompliances, through to civil penalties and the suspension or
cancellation of licences for serious or repeat offenders.
The dairy industry already has a licensing scheme in place to
regulate milk quality and food safety. It is possible that animal
welfare could be incorporated as part of industry quality
assurance (QA) programs and independent auditing processes
that apply to this scheme.496
Licence schemes are not without their flaws, as demonstrated
by the repeated failings of Australia’s live export regulatory
system (although, it could be argued that the situation would
be worse if the current live export licensing scheme was not
in place). Monitoring and enforcement is essential in ensuring
70
493 Regulation through a licensing scheme is a common method of
regulation, and is used in areas such as private hospitals, car
registration and the building industry. It’s also used to regulate the
commercial fishing industry, the animal research industry and the
operations of zoos and circuses. See Bloom (2008), at 36-37.
494 Ibid, at 33.
495 Ibid, at 36.
496 Dairy Australia (2014), ‘Dairy Food Safety’.
the effectiveness of any regulatory framework. For the dairy
industry, this could be achieved through industry QA programs
and auditing, in conjunction with regular announced and
unannounced inspections by an independent animal welfare
body. The establishment of an Independent Office of Animal
Welfare is discussed below.
Assurance schemes
Consumers generally care about animal welfare, with many
willing to spend more on products that promote higher welfare
standards.497 This is clearly evident in the rise of free-range
products across the pork and poultry industry, as well as
commitments made by retailers Coles and Woolworths to
phase out sow stall pork and battery cage eggs across their
range of products.498
The Australian dairy industry is well positioned to take advantage
of this consumer sentiment. As with the use of battery cages
and sow stalls, consumers are gradually becoming more aware
of the welfare concerns associated with dairy. It is only a matter
of time before consumer and, in turn, retailer demand for
higher welfare poultry and pork extends to the dairy industry.
“A failure to recognise the importance of animal
welfare to consumers may result in the loss of
market access or market share. It is important
that all livestock producers investigate and
implement animal welfare strategies on
their farms to ensure market access and
the sustainability of livestock production in
Australia.”499
‘Assurance schemes’ enable producers to develop their
products in accordance with a set of established welfare
standards, and to market their product to consumers
accordingly. Table 2 provides a summary of standards that
could be used in a national dairy industry assurance scheme.
See Table 2 on page 72.
497 See, for example, Voiceless, the animal protection institute (2014),
‘Truth in Labelling’; Compassion in World Farming (CIWF) and Onekind
(2012), ‘Executive Summary: Farm Assurance Schemes & Animal
Welfare’, at 2; CIWF and RSPCA (2013), ‘Progress Report 2013 - the
Modern Solution to the Exports of Calves: Working in Black and
White’, at 51; Passillé and Rushen (2005), at 759.
498 See, for example, Coles (2014), ‘Coles Brand Improves the Lives of
Hens and Pigs’; Whyte (2013), ‘Woolworths to Phase out All Battery
Hen Eggs’, Sydney Morning Herald, 4 October 2013; Lauber (2014),
‘Animal Welfare for Livestock Producers’.
499 Lauber (2014), ‘Animal Welfare for Livestock Producers’.
In 2012, Compassion in World Farming conducted a survey of four UK based dairy assurance schemes. The survey
looked at the animal welfare requirements of each of the schemes, and gave a rating out of 100.500
CASE STUDY 6
Soil Association Assurance Scheme, UK
Overall, the Soil Association assurance scheme achieved the highest score with 76 points. Compassion in World
Farming stated that, when compared with standard industry practice in the UK, the scheme offered many positive
animal welfare advantages, including:
•
Access to pasture throughout the grazing season.
•
Later weaning of calves, although calves are still removed from their mothers within days of birth
•
A restriction on transport duration to eight hours.
•
A prohibition on the live export of calves under one month and of cows for slaughter.
•
Specifications and monitoring to ensure effective pre-slaughter stunning and unconsciousness until death.
•
A requirement for producers to implement a plan to phase out the killing of bobby calves.
•
A requirement to use breeds with a reduced incidence of health problems with intensive production or
problems at birth.501
500 CIWF and OneKind (2012), ‘Executive Summary: Farm Assurance Schemes & Animal Welfare’.
501 CIWF and OneKind (2012), ‘Farm Assurance Schemes & Animal Welfare’, (UK, 2012b) at 22.
These animal welfare standards are generally developed,
monitored and enforced by an independent certifier, based
on independent science. Independent assurance schemes
have been developed for free-range egg producers, including
Australian Certified Organic, Free Range Egg and Poultry
Association of Australia and the RSPCA.
The UK has developed a number of dairy assurance schemes,
including the Assured Dairy Farms (now called Red Tractor
Assurance),502 RSPCA Freedom Food,503 Scottish Organic
Producers Association504 and Soil Association.505 See Case
Study 6, above. The animal welfare standards set by these
schemes vary greatly, providing consumers with a genuine
choice based on their ethical position and willingness to pay.
502 See, Red Tractor Assurance (2014), ‘Red Tractor Assurance
Schemes’.
503 See, RSPCA Freedom Food (2014), ‘Freedom Food RSPCA
Monitored: About Us’.
504 See, Scottish Organic Producers Association (2014), ‘The Certification
Process’.
505 See, Soil Association (2013), ‘Soil Association Certification: Why
Choose Us?’.
The development of animal welfare assurance schemes
operating in the UK have certainly been a positive influence,
particularly where they have been taken up by retailers.506
Research conducted by Compassion in World Farming has
noted that these schemes have been beneficial in creating an
incentive for good business practice at a farm level, as well
as generating increased consumer awareness of efforts by
industry to improve animal welfare. This has led to a greater
willingness by consumers to pay for higher welfare produce.507
Increasing consumer knowledge and developing brand
awareness around the assurance schemes is pivotal to
ensuring their effectiveness. This is something that will need
to be developed by both industry, the independent certifier and
the participants of the scheme.
506 CIWF and RSPCA (2013), ‘Progress Report 2013 - the Modern
Solution to the Exports of Calves: Working in Black and White’, at 51.
507Ibid.
71
6. Changing Industry and Attitudes
TABLE 2: Possible baseline standards for a dairy industry assurance scheme
4 Killing of bobby calves is prohibited, or producers have implemented a plan to phase out the killing of bobby calves.
4 Bobby calves are not separated from their mothers before three months after birth, or have a system in place to
reduce separation distress of both mother and calf.
4 Use of blunt force trauma is prohibited, and all forms of slaughter are performed with prior-stunning.
4 All forms of dehorning and disbudding is prohibited (both caustic and non-chemical), unless performed by and on
the advice of a veterinarian for therapeutic reasons. Where the procedure is deemed necessary, a combination of
sedation, local anaesthetic and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) is used.
4 All forms of tail docking is prohibited, unless performed by and on the advice of a veterinarian for therapeutic reasons.
4 Calving induction is prohibited, unless performed by and on the advice of a veterinarian for therapeutic reasons. The
routine use of calving induction as a herd management tool or to maximise milk production is expressly prohibited.
4 A lameness control strategy is in place, and the prevalence of lameness is less than five cows in every 100 cows in
milk.
4 A mastitis control strategy is in place, and the prevalence of clinical mastitis is less than five cows in every 100 cows
in milk.
4 Producers select herds based on genetic traits that produce positive welfare outcomes for cows (such as lameness
and mastitis resistance, poll breeds and reduced chance of birthing difficulties).
4 The live export of dairy cows is prohibited, and the land transport of dairy cows is limited to eight hours (including
loading and unloading time).
4 Accurate and up-to-date on-farm records of disease and welfare are kept. Health and welfare plans are developed in
conjunction with a veterinarian, and performance is regularly measured and assessed against these plans.
4 All stockpeople are trained, competent and experienced in the handling of dairy cows.
4 Producers frequently (no less than twice daily) inspect dairy cows for signs of illness, injury or distress and contact a
veterinarian if required.
4 Frequent inspections from the relevant certifying body are undertaken, including unannounced / unplanned
inspections for compliance with standards.
4 Abattoirs have CCTV installed and employees are adequately trained, competent and experienced in the handling and
slaughter of dairy cows.
4 Measures are in place to penalise or disincentivise producers that fail to comply with the prescribed standards.
72
Retailers have a key role to play in improving the welfare of
dairy cows. Assurance schemes will no doubt prove most
effective when they are taken up by the major retailers, and
incorporated as a condition of their supply contracts for dairy
products. See Table 2 on next page for a summary.
Independent Office of Animal Welfare
Monitoring and enforcement of the regulatory framework is
an essential part of ensuring on farm compliance. Within the
dairy industry, enforcement efforts are heavily dependent on
industry self-auditing and reporting, which focus on food safety
and milk quality, as opposed to animal welfare.
In 2011, the Labor Party proposed the introduction of an
Independent Office of Animal Welfare. In 2013, a significantly
watered down version was introduced – namely, the position of
Inspector General of Animal Welfare and Live Animal Exports.
In 2013, before the position was even established, Coallition
Minister Barnaby Joyce announced the abolition of the position
of the Inspector General.
In our view, the current dependence on industry self-reporting
is clearly problematic, with industry effectively monitoring and
regulating itself. A lack of regular, independent monitoring of
on-farm practices undermines the integrity of the regulatory
framework, and makes it impossible to ensure that dairy
farmers are complying with welfare standards.508 Animal
welfare can never be assured – whether in the existing
regulatory framework, an assurance scheme or a licencing
scheme – without regular independent monitoring and
enforcement.
Accordingly, Voiceless strongly supports the introduction of an
Independent Office of Animal Welfare. The responsibilities of
this statutory body would include providing advice on animal
welfare matters to federal, state and territory governments;
proposing avenues for legal reform; conduct regular inspections
of dairy farms, and enforcing animal cruelty laws.
508 Under the proposed Standards & Guidelines, it is anticipated that
peak industry bodies will work with jurisdictional governments in a
“co-regulatory” environment to establish a primary role for industry QA
audit processes to monitor and enforce compliance with standards,
with governments maintaining overview (audit) of industry QA systems
and intervening directly in response to specific incidents of noncompliance with standards. For a general discussion on co-regulation
of the animal protection framework, see for example Goodfellow,
‘Animal Welfare Law Enforcement: To Punish or Persuade?’, in White,
Black and Sankoff (ed), Animal Law in Australasia (2nd ed: Federation
Press, 2013), 183-207
73
6. Changing Industry and Attitudes
6.3conclusion
In this Report, we have provided a comprehensive
overview of the Australian dairy industry, as well
as posing three important questions in relation
to the daily life of the modern dairy cow: is she
feeling well, is she behaving naturally and is she
functioning well?
In shining a light on the daily life of the Australian dairy cow,
through a systematic examination of the key welfare issues, it
is clear that too frequently, the answer to these questions is
‘no’. The modern dairy cow commonly suffers from mastitis,
lameness, metabolic disorders, mutilation procedures and the
inevitability of repeatedly losing her calf. It is also clear that
much of her suffering and poor welfare is made worse by the
demands placed on her by high-production dairying and the
growing consumer expectation for cheap milk.
Reform is needed to address this situation, particularly if
the current growth in milk output and the pressures toward
intensification of dairying continue.
This reform must take place across different jurisdictions and
at different levels of government and society.
• For the most egregious welfare issues – such as
mutilation practices, calving induction and the slaughter
of bobby calves by blunt force trauma – the answer is
clear: they must be prohibited under the existing criminal
law, unless deemed necessary by a veterinarian for
therapeutic reasons.
• Live animal exports must also be brought to an immediate
end, not just for dairy cows, but for all Australian animals.
It is a cruel, grossly unpopular trade and can no longer be
justified on commercial or economic grounds.
• For those welfare concerns that cannot be ‘regulated
away’, a combination of the existing criminal law and
alternative approaches should be considered. This is
particularly the case for preventing and managing the
onset of lameness and mastitis, addressing the welfare
concerns surrounding mother-calf separation, and the
early slaughter of hundreds of thousands of unwanted
bobby calves each year.
74
To this end, we recommend developing a National Dairy
Industry Licencing Scheme to promote best practice in
commercial dairying. To encourage an ethical consumer base,
we also recommend the development of independent dairy
industry assurance schemes.
Above all else is the need for greater monitoring and
enforcement of on-farm compliance with welfare standards.
In our view, the current dependence on industry self-reporting
is inadequate and provides little guarantee to the Australian
public that animal welfare standards are being met. A national
and truly Independent Office of Animal Welfare, tasked with
regularly monitoring and enforcing on-farm compliance, must
be established.
As has been the case in other animal industries, consumer
action provides the greatest opportunity for improving the lives
of dairy cows and their calves. Through the ethical choices
of informed consumers, retailers and producers have begun
making changes that have dramatically improved the lives of
millions of hens and mother pigs that would have otherwise
spent their lives in cages or sow stalls. Of course, millions more
continue to suffer in factory farms, but consumers have given
them a voice and have brought their suffering to mainstream
awareness.
In this Report we have aimed for accuracy and truthfulness.
We have not sought to exaggerate the issues but nor have
we been willing to deny the very real welfare reality for
the dairy cow and her calf, neither of whom can speak for
themselves.
Our aim in writing this Report, has been to lift the marketing
and publicity veil, to look beyond the endless photos of cows
chewing away, seemingly without a care, in lush, green
fields. While this is a true picture for some cows, for some of
the time, taken alone it provides a distorted and inaccurate
picture of the life realities for the majority of high production
dairy cows. Our Report has shown, that for most dairy cows,
life is hard, sometimes painful and invariably short.
In addition to providing information, our aim and our hope
is that this Report will spark discussion and debate among
farmers, industry bodies, policy makers and consumers.
We have shown in the Report that there are kinder ways to
produce dairy products and also that there are now many
viable alternatives available. The consumer has enormous
power and armed with information, is in a position to make
ethical and compassionate choices. We hope that in giving
voice to the dairy cow, and her calf, the informed consumer
will be in a better position to make those choices.
List of Acronyms and Abbreviations
AAWS
Australian Animal Welfare Strategy
ABARES
Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences
ABS
Australian Bureau of Statistics
ABVs
Australian Breeding Values
AHA
Animal Health Australia
AI
Artificial insemination
ASEL
Australian Standards for the Export of Livestock (Version 2.3) 2011
AVA
Australian Veterinary Association
AVMA
American Veterinary Medical Association
AWTG
Animal Welfare Task Group
Cattle Code
Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Cattle (2nd ed) 2004
CIWF
Compassion in World Farming
CSIRO
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
DAA
Dieticians Association of Australia
DAFF Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (now the Department of Agriculture)
Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines Draft Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle (Version 1) 2014
EFSA
European Food Safety Authority
EOP
End of Processing
ESCAS
Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System
FAWC
Farm Animal Welfare Council
ICCC
Individual cow cell count
IGIG
Industry Government Implementation Group
NAWAC
National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee
NHMRC
National Health and Medical Research Council
OIE
World Organisation for Animal Health
PIMC
Primary Industries Ministerial Council
QA
Quality Assurance
RAGFAR
Reference Advisory Group on Fermentative Acidosis of Ruminants
RIS
Proposed Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines - Cattle:
Decision Regulation Impact Statement (1st ed) 2014
RSPCA
Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
SCC
Somatic cell count
TMR
Total mixed ration
Transport Standards & Guidelines
Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines - Land Transport of Livestock
(Version 1.1) 2012
VDEPI
Victorian Department of Environment and Farming Industries
Victorian Cattle Code
Code of Accepted Farming Practice for the Welfare of Cattle 2001
WAP World Animal Protection (formerly World Society for the Protection of Animals)
WSPA
World Society for the Protection of Animals (now World Animal Protection)
75
76
Yes – Permits
dehorning /
disbudding, and
recommends the
procedure should
only be conducted
without local
analgesics on cattle
under 6 months
of age. Dehorning
of cattle over 12
months is not
recommended.1
Yes – Permits
dehorning /
disbudding without
pain relief if the cattle
is less than 6 months
old. 7
Current position
under the Cattle
Code
Proposed position
under the Draft
Cattle Standards &
Guidelines
Permits nonchemical dehorning
/ disbudding of
cows?
Yes – Permits caustic
disbudding if the
calf is less than 14
days old, can be
segregated from his
or her mother for 4
hours after treatment,
can be kept dry
for 12 hours after
treatment, and is not
wet. 8
No – States that
cattle must not
be dehorned with
corrosive chemicals.2
Permits the caustic
disbudding of
cows?
Yes – Laypersons
are able to tail dock
cattle, but only on
veterinary advice and
only to treat injury or
disease.9
States animals
docked surgically
must receive
analgesia or
anaesthesia. 4
Yes – States should
be performed only
where necessary
for udder health
or prescribed by a
veterinarian. Also
recommends it
should be undertaken
only on young female
cattle under 6
months of age.3
Permits a layperson
to dock the tails of
calves?
Inducing calving as
a herd management
tool is not expressly
prohibited.11
Yes – Calving
induction is only
permitted under
veterinary advice.10
Inducing calving as
a herd management
tool is not expressly
prohibited.
Yes – Calving
induction must only
take place under
veterinary advice and
supervision. 5
Permits calving
induction as a herd
management tool?
Appendix 1: Key welfare concerns in the Cattle Code and Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines
Yes – Permits a
person to kill a calf
by a blow to the
forehead if the calf
is less than 24 hours
old and only where
no other humane
killing methods
are reasonably
available.12
Yes – Does not
expressly prohibit
calves being
slaughtered by blunt
force trauma.
Permits calves to
be slaughtered by
use of blunt force
trauma?
Yes – States that
cattle should have
the opportunity
for appropriate
exercise each day,
however, this is a
non-mandatory
Guideline.13
Yes - States that
calves should be
kept in a group
environment to
allow for adequate
exercise. However,
there is no express
prohibition on the
permanent indoor
confinement of dairy
cattle. 6
Permits cows to
be permanently
confined?
Appendix 1
S9.3, Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
S6.5, Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
S6.4, Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
[3.2], Cattle Code. [2.1] of the Cattle Code has general provisions prohibiting the routine practice of tethering animals, and that tethered animals should be given adequate exercise each day.
[5.10.5], Cattle Code.
[5.6.2], Cattle Code.
[5.6.1], Cattle Code.
[5.8.4], Cattle Code.
[5.8.2], Cattle Code.
13 G4.9 of the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines states “cattle should have the opportunity for appropriate exercise each day” (emphasis added), however, this is a non-mandatory Guideline.
12 S11.5, Draft Cattle Standard & Guidelines. Further, G7.10 states: “Calving induction should only be done when necessary for the welfare of the individual cow or calf”.
11 G7.8 of the Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines states: “Herd management strategies should be adopted to minimise or eliminate the need to induce calving”.
10 S7.4, Draft Cattle Standards & Guidelines.
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
77
78
Animal Care and
Protection Act 2001
(QLD)
Animal Welfare Act
1985 (SA)
Animal Welfare Act
1993 (TAS)
Prevention of Cruelty to
Animals Act 1986 (VIC)
Animal Welfare Act
2002 (WA)
Queensland
South Australia
Tasmania
Victoria
Western Australia
Yes8
Yes4
Yes2
Does the
jurisdiction
adopt the
Cattle Code?
Compliance is not mandatory; the Cattle Code is advisory in nature.12
Compliance with the Cattle Code is mandatory.9
Compliance with the Cattle Code is a defence to an offence under the
Act. 10
Compliance is not mandatory; the Cattle Code is advisory in nature.5
Compliance with the Cattle Code is an exemption to an offence under
the Act.6
Compliance or non-compliance can be adduced as evidence in relation
to an offence under the Act.7
Compliance is not mandatory; the Cattle Code is advisory in nature.
Compliance or non-compliance can be adduced as evidence in relation
to an offence under the Act.3
What is the legal status of the Cattle Code
(or relevant industry code)?
Compliance is not mandatory; the Cattle Code is advisory in nature.17
Compliance with the Cattle Code can be used as a defence to a charge
of cruelty.18
No – the Code
Compliance is not mandatory; the Cattle Code is advisory in nature.14
of Accepted
Compliance with the Cattle Code is an exemption to an offence under
Farming
the Act.15
Practice for the
Welfare of Cattle
applies.13
Animal (General) Welfare Yes16
Regulation 2003 (WA)
Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals Regulation
2008 (VIC)
Animal Welfare (General) Yes11
Regulations 2013 (TAS)
Animal Welfare
Regulation 2012 (SA)
Animal Care and
Protection Regulation
2012 (QLD)
Prevention of Cruelty to Prevention of Cruelty
Animals Act 1979 (NSW) to Animals Regulation
2012 (NSW)
New South Wales
Relevant Regulations
Relevant Legislation
Jurisdiction1
Appendix 2: How Australian jurisdictions have adopted the Cattle Code
Appendix 2
Reg 5(1), Animal Welfare Regulation 2012 (SA); Schedule 2, Animal Welfare Regulation 2012 (SA).
Ss 43 and 44(3), Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA); Reg 5, Animal Welfare Regulation 2012 (SA); Schedule 2, Animal Welfare Regulation 2012 (SA).
S 16, Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (QLD).
S 40, Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (QLD).
Reg 3, Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2012 (QLD); Schedule 4, Part 2, Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2012.
S 13, Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (QLD); Reg 3, Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2012 (QLD); Schedule 4, Part 2, Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2012 (QLD).
S 34A(3), Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW).
S 34A, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW); Reg 33, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulation 2012 (NSW).
Note – There are no dairy cattle in the ACT or the Northern Territory.
18 S 25 of the Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA); However, the fact that a person has not complied with a Code must be taken into account by a court, but is not sufficient, on its own, to prove that the person
committed an offence under the Act (s 84 of the Animal Welfare Act 2003 (WA)).
17 Department of Agriculture and Food - Western Australia, ‘Codes of Practice: Return to Animal Welfare’ <http://archive.agric.wa.gov.au/PC_94969.html>.
16 S 94(2)(d), Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA); Reg 6, Animal (General) Welfare Regulation 2003 (WA); Schedule 1, Animal (General) Welfare Regulation 2003 (WA).
15 S 6(1)(b), Prevention Of Cruelty To Animals Act 1986 (VIC).
14Ibid.
13 Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries, ‘Victorian Codes of Practice for Animal Welfare’ <http://www.depi.vic.gov.au/agriculture-and-food/animal-health-and-welfare/animal-welfare/animalwelfare-legislation/victorian-codes-of-practice-for-animal-welfare>.
12Ibid.
11 Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries and Water, ‘Animal Welfare Guidelines’ <http://dpipwe.tas.gov.au/biosecurity/animal-biosecurity/animal-welfare/legislation-standards-guidelines/animal-welfarestandards-guidelines/animal-welfare-guidelines/animal-welfare-guidelines-full-list>.
10 S 43, Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA).
9
8
7
6
5
4
3
2
1
79
Appendix 3
Appendix 3: Regulation of key welfare concerns in dairy producing Australian jurisdictions
80
Jurisdiction1 Permits non-chemical dehorning
/ disbudding of cows?
Permits the caustic disbudding of
cows?
Permits a layperson to
tail dock cows?
New South
Wales
Yes – Dehorning / disbudding is
permitted; it is illegal to dehorn cattle
over the age of 12 months in a manner
that inflicts unnecessary pain upon the
animal.2
Yes – Caustic dehorning / disbudding
is permitted; it is illegal to dehorn cattle
over the age of 12 months in a manner
that inflicts unnecessary pain upon
the animal.3 The Cattle Code is not
mandatory in NSW.
Yes – Legal for a layperson to tail dock,
provided that the calf is less than 6
months of age and, on the advice of a
veterinarian, it is necessary to treat an
injury or disease.4
Queensland
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under
QLD law or under the Cattle Code.
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under
QLD law. The Cattle Code is not
mandatory in QLD.
No – It is unlawful for a layperson to
dock the tail of cattle.7
South
Australia
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under SA No – Unlawful by operation of the Cattle
law or under the Cattle Code.
Code.
Yes – Legal for layperson to tail dock,
provided that a veterinarian has certified it
is necessary for the control of disease.9
Tasmania
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under
Tasmanian law or under the Cattle Code.
The Tasmanian Guide to Dairy Cattle
Welfare prohibits the dehorning of cattle
over 6 months unless performed by a
veterinarian with pain relief, although
compliance is not mandatory.13
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under
Tasmanian law or under the Cattle Code.
The Tasmanian Guide to Dairy Cattle
Welfare prohibits the dehorning of cattle
over 6 months unless performed by a
veterinarian with pain relief, although
compliance is not mandatory.14
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under
Tasmanian law or under the Cattle Code.
The Tasmanian Guide to Dairy Cattle
Welfare provides that tail docking should
only be done under veterinary advice
to treat injury or disease, although
compliance is not mandatory.15
Victoria
Yes – Dehorning / disbudding is
permitted under the Code of Accepted
Farming Practice for the Welfare
of Cattle. It is recommended that
dehorning / disbudding without local
anaesthetic should be limited to cows
under 6 months, although compliance
is not mandatory. 19
Yes – The Code of Accepted Farming
Practice for the Welfare of Cattle
states that chemical disbudding “is not
acceptable”, although compliance is not
mandatory. 20
Yes – The Code of Accepted Farming
Practice for the Welfare of Cattle states
that tail docking may only be performed
where necessary for udder or herd health.
It also states it should only be performed
on young female calves under 6 months of
age, and with anaesthesia.21
Compliance is not mandatory.
Western
Australia
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under
WA law or under the Cattle Code.
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under WA
law. The Cattle Code is not mandatory.
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under WA
law or under the Cattle Code.
1
Note – There are no dairy cattle in the ACT or the Northern Territory.
8
S 18(2)(f), Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (QLD).
2
S 24(1)(a)(iii), Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW).
9
Reg 6(1), Animal Welfare Regulation 2012 (SA).
3
S 24(1)(a)(iii) Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW).
10 [5.10.5], Cattle Code.
4
S 12(2)(a), Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW); s20(1),
Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulation 2012 (NSW).
11 S 13(3)(h), Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA).
5
S 9(1A), Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW).
6
S 9(3), Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW).
13 A Guide to Tasmanian Dairy Cattle Welfare (2012), at 22 <http://
dpipwe.tas.gov.au/Documents/dairytas_cattle_welfare_book.pdf>.
7
S 27(2), Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (QLD).
14Ibid.
12 S 3(b)(i), Animal Welfare Act 1985 (SA).
Permits calving induction as a
herd management tool?
Permits calves to be slaughtered by
use of blunt force trauma?
Permits cows to be
permanently confined?
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under
NSW law or under the Cattle Code.
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under NSW
law or under the Cattle Code.
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under NSW law
or under the Cattle Code. Cows are exempt from
the requirement to provide animals with adequate
exercise5 and from the prohibition against
insufficiently sized confinements.6
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under
QLD law or under the Cattle Code.
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under QLD
law or under the Cattle Code.
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under QLD law
or under the Cattle Code. Confinement is only
considered an act of cruelty if the confinement is not
appropriately prepared for (food, water, shelter, etc),
it is detrimental to the animal’s welfare or the animal
is unfit for confinement.8
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under
SA law or the Cattle Code. Must be
conducted under the advice and
supervision of a veterinarian under the
Cattle Code.10
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under SA law
or under the Cattle Code. It is only considered
an act of cruelty if an animal is conscious
and not killed by a method that causes death
to occur as rapidly as possible.11
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under SA law or
under the Cattle Code. It is an act of cruelty if an
animal is not provided with appropriate and adequate
exercises.12
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under
Tasmanian law or under the Cattle Code.
Permitted under the Tasmanian Guide
to Dairy Cattle Welfare, which states it
should always be conducted under the
supervision of a veterinarian.16
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under
Tasmanian law or under the Cattle Code.
Permitted under the Tasmanian Guide to
Dairy Cattle Welfare for calves less than
24 hours old, however, it is considered
‘undesirable’.17
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under Tasmanian
law or under the Cattle Code. Confinement is only
considered an act of cruelty where likely to result in
unreasonable or unjustifiable suffering, the animal
is unable to provide for itself and he or she is not
provided with approporiate food, shelter, drink or
exercise.18
Yes – Permitted under the Code of
Accepted Farming Practice for Welfare
of Cattle if performed under veterinary
supervision, although compliance is not
mandatory. 22
Yes – Prohibited under the Code of
Accepted Farming Practice for Welfare of
Cattle, except in “extreme conditions in
which common sense and genuine concern
for animal and human welfare should
prevail.”23 Compliance is not mandatory.
Yes - Not expressly prohibited under Victorian law
or under the Cattle Code. Confinement is only
considered an act of cruelty where likely to result
in unreasonable or unjustifiable suffering or fails to
provide proper food, drink or shelter.24 The practice
of confining cattle, however, is referred to throughout
the Code of Accepted Farming Practice for Welfare
of Cattle.
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under
WA law or under the Cattle Code.
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under WA
law or under the Cattle Code.
Yes – Not expressly prohibited under WA law or
under the Cattle Code. Confinement is only an act
of cruelty if the manner that causes, or is likely to
cause, unnecessary harm.25
15Ibid.
16Ibid.
17 Ibid, at 31.
18 S 8(2)(e), Animal Welfare Act 1993 (TAS).
19 S 10.6, Code of Accepted Farming Practice for the Welfare of Cattle
(2001).
20 S 10.6 of the Code of Accepted Farming Practice for the Welfare of
Cattle (2001).
21 S 10.5, Code of Accepted Farming Practice for the Welfare of Cattle
(2001).
22 S 10.8, Code of Accepted Farming Practice for the Welfare of Cattle
(2001).
23 S 12.3, Code of Accepted Farming Practice for the Welfare of Cattle
(2001).
24 Ss 9(1)(b) and 9(1)(f), Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (VIC).
25 S 19(3)(b), Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA).
81
References
Image credits
The Cattle Site and The Beef Site
Permission is granted for use by NON PROFIT MAKING ORGANISATIONS provided the
following statement is added to any 5M material used:
Copyright © www.TheCattleSite.com - Reproduced with Permission
Copyright © www.TheBeefSite.com - Reproduced with Permission
Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals
Diana Simpson
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89
This report is endorsed by the following organisations:
Printed on 100% recycled and Australian made FSC stock, through the generosity of
Nova Press. Our gratitude also goes to Chameleon for the design concept
Other publications by Voiceless:
• Science and Sense: The Case for Abolishing Sow Stalls (January 2013)
• The Animal Law Toolkit (December 2009)
• From Nest to Nugget: An Exposé of Australia’s Chicken Factories (November 2008)
• From Label to Liable: Scams, Scandals and Secrecy. Lifting the Veil on
Animal-Derived Food Product Labelling in Australia (May 2007)
• From Paddocks to Prisons: Pigs in New South Wales, Australia. Current Practices,
Future Directions (December 2005)
All publications are available at www.voiceless.org.au/resources