The Australian red meat industry is strongly committed to animal welfare practices and how livestock are cared for. Together with the red meat industry, MLA has implemented a range of programs and initiatives to address animal welfare concerns.
Australian red meat producers are aware of their responsibilities for their animal's welfare. Australia has become an international leader in the development of industry welfare standards and guidelines. To further improve the well-being of Australian cattle, sheep and goats, MLA invests in research projects and provides tools and knowledge for Australian farmers.
MLA's animal welfare R&D program
MLA 's Animal Welfare Program, focuses on livestock production including on-farm management, livestock handling, transport and product quality. Animal welfare R&D is undertaken on the farm, at feedlots,and the various stages of livestock exports and red meat production.
This program is in line with the International priorities of the Office International des Epizooties (OIE), the world animal health organisation, and the Australian Government's national strategic framework - the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy (AAWS).
State animal welfare acts and regulations
Each state has its own animal welfare Act and accompanying regulations. The Act and regulations are for people who own or work with animals.
To ensure a consistently high level of animal welfare on a national basis, MLA in collaboration with the various state Government departments and red meat industry peak councils, is developing a comprehensive national animal welfare standard with guidelines for the red meat and livestock industry.
On-farm - Animal welfare standards and guidelines
To help cattle and sheep farmers implement animal welfare practices on their farms, the red meat industry and other stakeholders have established animal welfare standards and guidelines to provide information around the production and care of livestock. They define acceptable welfare practices for livestock husbandry and transport and replace the old codes of practice.
Feedlots - National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme
The Australian feedlot industry developed the National Feedlot Accreditation Scheme (NFAS) in the early 1990's. The NFAS incorporates a strict animal welfare component, which ensures the cattle in the feedlot are well cared for and monitored on a daily basis. Feed, water and air quality, temperature and heat levels are constantly monitored. If an animal displays any signs of illness, it is treated by a veterinarian to ensure it is returned to optimal health as soon as possible.
Feedlots are independently audited to ensure compliance to the NFAS, and all it's components. MLA works closely with the Australian feedlot sector to continue to improve animal welfare in feedlots, particularly with regards to heat load stress.
Transportation - quality assurance program
Livestock need to be transported between properties, feedlots, saleyards , meat processing facilities and for live export. To ensure the welfare of livestock on these journeys, and to maintain the quality of the red meat product, a national guide and quality assurance system has been developed. Red meat producers are provided with the national guide to assist them with the transportation of livestock.
The 'Is it fit to load?' publication was developed by MLA in consultation with the livestock industry to help cattle, sheep and goat farmers decide if an animal is 'fit and healthy' for transport . This helps ensure the safe arrival of animals at their next destination. The red meat and livestock industry husbandry and transport codes of practice recommend how livestock should be prepared for transport. These recommendations include rest periods, and the feed and water requirements. Additional material about land transport can be found at the Livestock Transport Standards website.
The TruckCare initiative has been developed to provide quality assurance around truck transportation in the livestock industry. The programs are independently audited and built on sound international standards.
Australia is a world leader in animal welfare practices related to livestock exports. These practices extend from the farm through to the port, on-ship and in export destinations. Any person involved in the export of livestock, from farm to vessel, must comply with the Australian Standards for Export of Livestock. Relevant industry Export Standards legislate how livestock should be prepared for transport, including rest periods and feed and water requirements.
MLA and LiveCorp joint initiatives, such as 'In the ute. Not the boot' have helped improve sheep transportation in the Middle East markets. MLA developed the publication, 'Is it fit to export?', which provides those in the livestock export industry with information on whether cattle, sheep and goats destined for export are suitable for the journey.
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