Saleyards, fire branding, dehorning on RSPCA hit list


The RSPCA has released new guidelines that it says the Australian beef cattle industry should meet if it is satisfy the increasing animal welfare expectations of consumers.

The guidelines cover all stages of the beef supply chain from on-farm to the point of slaughter.

They are based on the ‘five freedoms’ of animal welfare, which are freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom from discomfort, freedom from pain, injury and disease, freedom to express normal behaviour and freedom from fear and distress.

The RSPCA has targeted a range of practices that it wants the industry to change, which includes no longer live exporting animals or selling through saleyards, the elimination of fire branding, the adoption of pre- and post-procedure pain relief for castration and spaying, the use of polled cattle instead of horned cattle, and, where polled cattle cannot be sourced, the use of tipping or trimming instead of dehorning.

In addition to its new animal welfare guidelines for beef cattle production, the RSPCA has also launched its “Beef Cattle Welfare Challenge” this week.

The RSPCA wants cattle producers to benchmark how their current practices compare to its new animal welfare guidelines, and then commit to meet improved standards within a one, two, or three-year time-frame. Each producer must sign a statutory declaration to support their entry. 

Producers who participate will be eligible to nominate to receive an RSPCA Beef Cattle Welfare Challenge innovation and/or achievement award.

The RSPCA’s more active interest in the beef industry may forshadow the development of an RSPCA-branded certification system for beef, similar to the existing “RSPCA Approved Farming Scheme” that it operates for the pork, chicken and turkey industries.

The RSPCA allows eligible producers and brands in those industries to use an “RSPCA Approved” label on their products, in return for royalty payments.

Producers must comply with welfare standards set by the RSPCA, which in most cases exceed legal requirements, and are assessed twice a year.

The RSPCA says the revenue it generates from royalty payments is used to conduct ongoing farm assessments, to fund the development of further certification standards, to promote the scheme to consumers, retailers and producers, and to fund campaigns aimed at improving the welfare of farm animals.

To view the RSPCA's guidelines in full click here


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