A new uniform system of standards and guidelines designed to ensure the welfare of livestock during transport is due to be introduced progressively around Australia from July 1.
Almost four years in development, the Land Transport Standards and Guidelines will combine both legally enforceable standards and recommended practices in the form of guidelines.
The Land Transport Standards and Guidelines will be introduced in Tasmania, Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory from July 1, in New South Wales later this year, and in Western Australia from January 1 next year. Queensland is yet to finalise a commencement date, due to interruptions caused by the recent change of Government, but 2013 is likely.
The new rules will apply to all people responsible for the care and management of livestock that are transported including drivers, transport companies, owners, agents and livestock handlers at farming enterprises, depots, saleyards, feedlots and livestock processing plants.
The development process has been overseen by Animal Health Australia with input from state and Federal Governments, industry representatives and animal welfare groups. A basic overview of the new standards and guidelines was provided at Beef 2012, with more detail to be rolled out publicly in coming weeks via a website that is currently under construction (www.livestockwelfarestandards.net.au).
The adequate provision of water is a central component of the new standards, which spell out maximum time that livestock can be off water, and the minimum duration that rest periods can last.
The rules are also designed to ensure that livestock can only be loaded if they are fit for transport.
The new rules will be supported by more active scrutiny and supervision of way bills and physical checks on consignments.
Cattle welfare standards
A seminar at Beef 2012 also heard that proposed cattle welfare standards are also closer to being finalised under the same process after almost three years of development.
The rules will bind cattle producers to legally enforceable standards surrounding practices such as dehorning, castration, spaying, branding, earmarking and electro-immobilisation.
More detail will be released as the process moves towards the public consultation phase, expected to occur later this year.