Care for all animals

A boy feeding baby cow

Improving animal welfare across the board

The industry’s consultations with stakeholders have confirmed that the priorities set for animal welfare strategies implemented by industry are consistent with community expectations. Following a review of progress in reducing routine calving induction, the dairy industry has endorsed a revised policy to phase it out through improved herd management practices, tools and technology. With cooperation from the Australian Veterinary Association’s Cattle Veterinarians Special Interest Group, an annual limit on the number of cows to be induced in an individual herd will be imposed unless a special exemption is granted for exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the herd manager, such as disease, adverse weather events. Farms granted an exemption will be required to implement a structured fertility management program. Unplanned late inductions which provide no benefit to future seasonal fertility are to be discontinued. The limit set for routine calving induction without an exemption in 2016 is 15% of cows in a herd.

Dairy Australia will continue to support farmers to implement improved reproductive management through the InCalf, Repro Right and InCharge programs. The industry is also continuing to invest in ongoing research in genetic improvement and fertility management to achieve long term improvements in herd fertility.

Work is also continuing to ensure the welfare of calves – whether reared for herd replacements, sold for veal or raised for beef production. Work continues in promoting recommended calf management practices and the popular “Rearing Healthy Calves” manual, first printed in 2011, is under review with a second edition planned for publication in 2016.

The new “Euthanasia in Livestock” course has been welcomed by farmers, state government veterinary services, milk processors and animal welfare groups. In 2015, there have been 234 people trained through the National Centre for Dairy Education (NCDE) on Euthanase Livestock. This comprised a mixture of farmers, vets and other service providers. A recent follow up survey found the training has greatly improved farmers’ sense of competence in performing euthanasia of livestock and all indicated that they will be recommending the training to others. There is continued support for the Euthanase Livestock program in 2016.

Healthy Hooves is a new program dedicated to the prevention and treatment of lameness. It is in the final months of development, with roll out of resources and workshops scheduled for July 2016. Resources include farmer workshops on prevention and treatment, prevention manual, lameness scoring, data capture, instructional videos, and a calculator for determining the cost benefits of reducing lameness.

The dairy industry is also working in partnership with meat processors to help ensure calves are transported in accordance with all relevant standards and guidelines to achieve good welfare outcomes.