Livestock producers are being reminded that they face penalties and possible prosecution under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act if they transport unfit animals from their farms.
Industry groups such as the Australian Livestock and Property Agents are warning that the actions of a few can unfairly taint the animal welfare record of the entire livestock industry.
Animal rights groups have indicated they will be increasingly targeting abattoirs, feedlots, farms and saleyards with cameras and video cameras as they seek to highlight examples of poor practices to the wider public.
Unfit stock were unacceptable anywhere, ALPA chief executive officer Andy Madigan told Beef Central today, and producers, livestock transporters and the receiver – for example feedlots, processors or saleyards – faced not only penalties but possible prosecution under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.
One initiative recently introduced to deter producers from sending unfit stock to sale involved the introduction of livestock disposal fees by some saleyards.
The introduction of financial penalties had delivered an effective message to producers to deal with issues on-farm and not to attempt to use saleyards or abattoirs as a dumping ground for unfit stock.
By law saleyard managers had complete authority within each facility to order that stock be destroyed.
Saleyards that had instigated the disposal-fee policy had seen a drastic decline in welfare problems, Mr Madigan said.
“ALPA takes animal welfare very serious as we know industry does,” Mr Madigan told livestock agent members in a recent newsletter.
“Unfortunately the actions, or inactions, of a few can result in enormous immediate repercussions for all.”
The Animal Care and Protection Act stipulates that those who have custody, control or own animals have a duty of care to ensure their welfare.
Everyone involved in the chain of responsibility – which included producers, agents, livestock transporters, saleyards operators and employees and buyers – faced possible prosecution for breaches under the act.
The ALPA board was also recommending that saleyards and agents seriously investigate the feasibility of having a person employed to monitor animal welfare at their facilities.
“We have all seen animals at sale facilities that should never have been transported and seen them sold,” Mr Madigan said. “This must stop.”