What is “Animal Welfare”?
To understand the true objectives of animal welfare organisations and the ordinary people who object to the ways some animals in society are treated, one has to undertake the following exercise.
First... rid your mind of all your current views about animal distinctions and class. Free your psyche of the ideas you may have held for many years about there being a difference between farm animals, domestic animals, companion animals, pretty animals, not so pretty animals, animals you may be afraid of or animals you just don't like.
Now.....what do you have left? You only have animals. That is the fundamental idea behind animal welfare. An animal is an animal is an animal; to put it simply - "a mouse is a cat, is a rabbit, is a cow, is a sheep, is a snake, is a pig, is a dog".
All these animals have the same things in common.
They all feel hunger, they all feel thirst and they all feel pain.
This is the ethos of animal welfare organisations and they do not distinguish between animals. Cruelty to a dog is cruelty to a sheep is cruelty to a rat - it is all just cruelty.
There can be no exceptions to cruelty. If a companion animal such as a dog is not permitted to have its tailed docked then the same rule applies to a lamb and that line should never be crossed by any group or political party or individual in our society.
Animal welfare to animal people is about the animal perspective not farmer perspective, horse racing perspective, breeder perspective or laboratory perspective etc. Animal welfare is not about what’s best financially for the farmer or breeder; it’s about what’s best for the animals. This entails their treatment, handling, health, transport and ultimately their death.
Those who use animals such as farmers, animal breeders (dog, cat, horse breeders) laboratories etc view animal welfare only in the context of maximising profits and minimising costs and effort to produce these profits. Animals are seen as the commodities which put money in the bank.
Those of us who are involved in animal welfare are under no illusions that humans will ever reconsider and surrender what society feels is an animal’s place in the food chain but we do ask and expect that the animals which provide farmers and animal users with a livelihood be treated with humanity and compassion and not denied the basic rights to ensure their welfare and well being.
It is also a fact that laws in Australia protect certain ‘farming practices’ such as cutting the tails off piglets, cutting their teeth, castration, mulesing of lambs, and debeaking of chickens all without anaesthetic by calling them animal husbandry techniques. If you were to do these things to your dog or cat, you would face prosecution. So why do farmers get away with it?
They get away with it because the Government/s turns a blind eye. What makes money for the farmer is claimed to make money for the country (as is the case with the recent Hassall Report, which ignores the REAL losses in jobs, GDP and household income), the general public is cocooned and do not see the acts of cruelty which farmers tell them are only undertaken in the best interests of their animals.
As an example, PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) showed the world convincingly that in fact these cruel acts do not need to be done at all. Their efforts showed the whole world just why mulesing is really done – essentially to save the farmer money and time. You will find further explanation on mulesing, debeaking, live export, castration and other cruelties as you read on
Firstly let us explain what basic rights EVERY animal should have as an absolute minimum.
Animals should not be denied, at the very least, the right to the “Five Freedoms” (as defined by the Brambell Committee in the UK in 1965).
The Five Freedoms are:
Freedom from hunger and thirst: by ready access to fresh water and a diet to maintain full health and vigour;
Freedom from discomfort: by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and a comfortable resting area;
Freedom from pain, injury and disease: by prevention through rapid diagnosis and treatment;
Freedom to express normal behaviours: by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and company of the animal’s own kind; and
Freedom from fear and distress: by ensuring conditions and treatment which avoid mental suffering.
We also expect that animals should be treated with respect and protected from painful and terrifying practices and procedures. We think that most of the community agrees with statement.
To farmers, animals are a means of making money, and their “care” should cost as little as possible whilst their productivity is driven to the maximum. “Animal Welfare” is not actually considered. What is important is making money. It is no coincidence that when a farmer practices positive animal welfare it is only because the results will earn extra money.
Practices and procedures on a farm that would attract prosecution if they were carried out on “companion” animals are carried out as a matter of routine on thousands of farm animals every day.
These practices in fact breach Animal Welfare legislation in every state and territory, but are protected by “Codes of Practice”, developed by government, the livestock industries and often the RSPCA, all working together, which provide exemptions from prosecution under cruelty provisions. Whilst non-compliance with a Code of Practice can support a cruelty prosecution, compliance can also form the basis of a defence.
The community expects more and the farming-transport-live export industries want you to take them on trust, to believe in what they do, that they are looking after the interests of the animals they use.
Animal welfare is not extreme. It is what good communities do to take care of their animals. We believe Australian society can now see through all the false and misleading statements coming from the farming industry. The simple truth is their greed is what drives the farming industry and animal welfare is not their priority.
Farming practices in Australia permit and endorse numerous animal husbandry techniques (as they prefer to label them) but we shall refer to them by their true name - mutilations.
Following are some examples of surgical mutilations:
The Merino sheep was bred to maximize wool production and the wrinkly skin which characterizes it. Australia’s climate is not suited to this type of animal (originally stock was imported from Spain) and this makes the animal prone to “flystrike”, when maggots lay their eggs in the folds of the skin.
The farmers’ easy and less expensive solution is mulesing, a gruesome procedure in which large chunks of flesh are sliced away from lambs’ backsides and their tails are stripped of skin without anaesthesia for the process or analgesia after the process. It should be noted that the breech area is not the only area of the sheep prone to flystrike, again because of the unsuitability of the breed to this climate. Farmers clearly prefer this method as it is a ‘one off ‘expense.
Flies strike mostly in summer. This is when the sheep need to be checked every day and for those sheep who are not mulesed, careful monitoring must be undertaken. Again this adds to production costs and is therefore not favoured by producers.
Those who are aware of this practice find mulesing totally abhorrent; animal welfare groups find mulesing completely unacceptable because there are alternatives. If you did this to your dog or cat, you would be prosecuted. Mulesing is performed because it can be done by anyone, it is cheap, and there is no after care. Lambs can die of shock, septicaemia, or starvation if their mothers reject them. The mustering of ewes and their lambs is very stressful and as a result, mothers will abandon their young. Crutching is more frequent shearing of those areas of the sheep which are prone to flystrike is an alternative to mulesing but again the cost factor comes into the profit margin making it an unattractive alternative for most sheep farmers.
Combined with one or some of the other alternatives which include chemical sprays, breeding for wrinkle free sheep, biological control of flies and more intense monitoring of animals at crucial times would totally eliminate mulesing. Mulesing is outlawed in the UK for the barbaric procedure that it most certainly is. Flystrike does occur in the UK.
Animal advocates, along with society oppose mulesing and believe that good animal management practices will prevent flystrike. However, the procedure remains legal. A trial of a new analgesia has been undertaken recently in Western Australia which proved to be successful. Not surprisingly, the farmer involved thought that at 80 cents per lamb it was too cost prohibitive, which is typical of the mentality. This is a clear demonstration of the attitude of farmers in regard to animal welfare versus production and profit margins.
read more on mulesing - http://liveexportshame.com/mulesing/index.htm
A further method of reducing the incidence of flystrike is pizzle dropping. Male sheep may soil their underbelly and therefore the fleece, diminishing its value, so the tissue between the body and the penis is cut to enable the penis to hang down away from the body. Pizzle dropping is not practiced widely.
Tail docking of lambs is undertaken on virtually all lambs in Australia in order to reduce flystrike which would be attracted by urine and faeces staining. The tails may be removed through cutting with a knife or by the application of a tight rubber ring. Neither procedure is carried out with anaesthesia , analgesia or by qualified veterinary professionals.
It is common practice that male lambs will be castrated, usually referred to as marking at the same time they are tail docked. Similarly, either a knife or a rubber ring will be used. If a knife is used the scrotum is cut and the testes removed, or, if a rubber ring is used, the testes will drop off once the rubber ring has cut off the blood supply and the tissue has atrophied. Both methods cause obvious and prolonged suffering.
Australia exports millions of sheep, cattle, goats, deer, camels and horses to the Middle East, North Africa and South East Asia every year, who are subjected to unspeakable treatment in all stages links of the live export chain. Farmers support the industry because they are able to get a few extra dollars, usually for wethers (castrated rams) passed their wool production prime.
Society finds the live export trade totally unacceptable because it deprives every animal of every one of the five basic freedoms. Terrified animals are crammed into trucks, off loaded into feedlots where they are forced to adapt to unnatural food, then they are re-loaded and taken to ships.
These ships are almost all 20 years old or more and over two million animals have died during the shipboard stage of the process.
M/V “Bader III”
M/V “Al Kuwait”
Animals die terrible deaths from “inanition” (starvation), dehydration, heat exhaustion, pneumonia (from breathing ammonia fumes from their own excrement and dust from the pelletized food), disease and trauma from inappropriate or deliberately cruel mishandling. Those who survive the journey are unluckier still.
Swimming in excrement on the M/V “Cormo Express”
Sick cattle on the M/V “Maysora”
They arrive in countries where summer temperatures are often 45 degrees or higher. Many are blind from the dust from the dry feed pellets and salt sea spray or lame due to injuries caused by numerous loading and unloading handling or from standing for weeks in urine and faeces.
They are brutally handled, hog-tied, slammed into boots of cars, and dragged mercilessly to slaughter while they are fully conscious.
Slaughter in Bahrain
Stabbing cattle in the eyes and lashing their leg tendons is common in Egypt
Slaughter in Kuwait
These animals are subjected to inhumane treatment and torture which most decent people would agree is totally unacceptable. Such treatment is not tolerated and is illegal in Australia and most other enlightened societies but because there are a few more dollars to be made by the farmer (and too many politicians are farmers), live exports continue.
No animal should have its life end in a filthy, disease-ridden ship, be thrown down a chute to be macerated (often still alive), or be thrown overboard to drown or be brutalised in a foreign slaughterhouse.
In spite of the arguments of religious and cultural preferences, the Middle East imports more than 50,000 tonnes of frozen Australian meat every year. This makes government and industry claims that these markets will only accept live animals a fraud in the community. As for the “no refrigeration” argument, how does the freshly slaughtered meat get to its customers, or are we to assume that these millions of animals are eaten “on the spot” immediately after slaughter?
Every day, tens of thousands of farm animals are transported from farms to feedlots and saleyards, wharves or abattoirs. They are crammed into pens on multi-tiered trucks. There is little to no enforcement of the numbers of animals these trucks are to carry per pen. They are “curfewed” (This means they are deprived of food and water) for various periods prior to transport.
At saleyards animals often are left without food and water for extended periods. At feedlots, they are crammed together with little or no opportunity for normal exercise (much less normal behaviours such as foraging). Most do not provide shade from heat and cold extremes. Animals are routinely transported from Western Australia to the Eastern states because the price might be a few cents a kilogram more in that market.
The farmer, not wanting to pay any more for transport than is absolutely necessary, is not overly concerned with the animal welfare ramifications of any of this.
Typical sheep transporters
Intensive farming of pigs
The powerful pig farmers’ lobby insists that it is for the welfare of these sensitive, intelligent (pigs are known to have the cognitive ability of a three year old child) and clean animals that they spend most of their lives in steel and concrete crates hardly larger than their own bodies. They tell us that living in their own waste, suffering wretched misery, going effectively insane, having their teeth cut, their ears notched and their tails cut off without anaesthetic minimizes “aggression” and is in their (the pigs) best interests.
If pigs lived as intended – outside wallowing in mud, able to forage, able to build nests for the birth of their young, tooth cutting and tail hacking would be unnecessary, since it is this intense confinement which manifests itself in these types of behaviours.
The other major concern is that intensive piggeries are a breeding ground for all manner of diseases; given pigs are prime incubators for human diseases. The feeding of antibiotics to pigs is, we have been told, common place. It should be a concern for all consumers that eating intensively farmed pork and pork products is creating a tolerance in humans to combat super viruses such as “golden staph” as human resistance diminishes with the ingesting of the antibiotics fed to the pigs.
Pigs DO cry …
The “lucky” ones can move one step back or one step forward
Animal advocates find intensive pig farming totally unacceptable because it deprives pigs of all of the five freedoms in the name of economic gain. We are fully aware that these animals live short lifetimes full of suffering and deprivation. Their frustration becomes so extreme that stereotypical behaviours such as bar biting, head swaying and screaming are commonplace, and the only time they experience fresh air and sunshine is when they are loaded on to trucks to be taken to slaughter. During their confinement, which for about 350,000 breeding sows in Australia is most of their lives, they develop heart disease, bone and leg and foot pain and deformities. In addition to this inhumane confinement, surgical mutilations are carried out routinely upon piglets and breeding sows are denied physical interaction with their young. All of this is, of course, unspeakably cruel. Sow stalls are banned in the UK and are being phased out in the EU because of the growing awareness of animal cruelty issues so obvious in type if intense farming.
No chance to interact with her young
If you were to confine or mutilate a dog or cat in such a way, you would be charged with cruelty. Battery (Egg Laying) Hens
At any given time, 11 million egg laying hens are so intensively confined that they are unable to walk or stretch their wings, much less exercise normal behaviours such as dust-bathing and foraging.
Scientists world wide condemn this method of egg production for the undoubted cruelty that it is. Caged hens are allowed less than one A4 size sheet of paper, and develop severe foot pain from standing on wire floors as well as other bone, skin and feather deformities. “Spent” hens are loaded and carted off for slaughter with consideration only relative to their also spent monetary value. Stunning, by means of electric bath, is often ineffective, meaning that many are slaughtered while fully conscious. This is appalling cruelty, and it exists because a Code of Practice allows it.
The beak of a normal chicken has complex and sensitive nerve structure/system. Chicks have half of their upper beak and one third of their lower beak sliced off with a hot wire to prevent cannibalism, caused by the intensive conditions under which the birds are kept, and this causes them lifelong pain.
The best efforts of animal advocates over many years have not prevailed over the systematic torture of 11 million egg laying hens in Australia.
Cattle – surgical/non-surgical procedures
Horn amputation is a routine practice carried out by cattle farmers on calves but also full grown cattle, to save farmers any cost from bruising, hide damage and other injuries.
Calves endure this painful, cruel and offensive act without any sedation or local anaesthesia. It is unimaginable that these procedures would be undertaken on animals in Australia without pain relief but again farmers maintain that dehorning is essential for the animals’ wellbeing. In Europe sedation and local anaesthesia is administered by veterinarians prior to any such procedure.
It is more common to dehorn calves than grown cattle because the buds are small and not yet fully attached to the head whereas with cattle dehorning can result in serious blood loss when large horns are removed.
The horn grows from the skin around its base in much the same way as the wall of the hoof grows down from the skin of the coronet of the foot. In young calves up to about two months of age, the horn bud is free-floating in the skin layer above the skull. As the calf grows older, the horn bud attaches to the skull and a small horn starts to grow. Dehorning is performed before this attachment to the skull occurs.
There are various methods, two of which are the hot iron and knife. The hot iron burns through the full thickness of the skin and tissue surrounding the bud. The bud eventually falls off. Using a knife the cut starts about 2cm away from the bud cutting right through the through the skin and tissue as the cut moves through the bud.
We wish to stress to you, both methods; performed WITHOUT sedation and local anaesthesia are known to be extremely stressful and painful for the young calves.
Female calves in some particularly remote and extensive properties (especially in Queensland and the Northern Territory) may be spayed without analgesia to prevent pregnancies.
Flank spaying involves entering the abdomen through a cut made in the flank of the animal. When performed without anaesthesia there is a level of pain and distress to the animal that is totally unacceptable. In nearly all instances this procedure is performed WITHOUT anaesthesia.
In heifers and undeveloped cows, passage spaying by hand is only possible with the aid of a mechanical device to spread the vaginal passage. This procedure inflicts extreme pain to the animal and causes irreparable damage to the vagina. The greater proportion of spaying is performed on undeveloped cattle where the procedure requires the use of spreaders.
Another method, the Willis Technique, is increasingly being used in the Northern Territory and Queensland. This method involves an operator placing his/her arm into the back passage of the calf and cutting the ovaries out. Again, no analgesia or anaesthesia is used, and the operators must be highly skilled to avoid internal damage and infections.
None of these proceedures is performed using anaesthetic or analgesic follow-up. Rarely are they carried out by veterinary surgeons; most being undertaken by unqualified untrained workers.
Despite advances in technology, many thousands of cattle are still identified by branding using hot irons. A red hot iron is placed on the skin for several seconds to burn the skin sufficiently to leave a permanent identifiable mark. Even capturing and restraining calves/cattle for this procedure is stressful. Freeze branding has been shown to cause less pain and distress, but still requires mustering, yarding and restraint.
More appropriate identification methods must be adopted and will include ear tattoos, electronic receivers in ear tags, and microchips (already being used extensively with companion animals).
Male cattle, unless they are to be used for breeding, will normally be castrated early in life (to become steers). The procedure is to cut open the scrotum and remove the testes, or alternatively to place a strong rubber ring around the top of the scrotum. It will wither from lack of blood supply and fall off. The calves react violently, kicking their legs and stamping – indicating their pain. The relevant Model Code of Practice allows the use of rubber rings up until the age of 2 weeks, but allows castration by knife (or burdizzo, an implement which crushes the testes) until the age of 6 months.
The CSIRO has developed a vaccine (Vaxstrate) which immunizes cattle (male and female), affecting their reproductive hormones and preventing conception. Regrettably this is not widely used, particularly due to the need for two injections and thus the animals must be mustered twice – a task that is not cost-effective and therefore not welcomed by farmers on extensive properties.
Female calves in some particularly remote and extensive properties (especially Queensland and the Northern Territory) may be spayed without analgesia to prevent pregnancies caused by scrub bulls, and which would make survival difficult for pregnant cattle in poor grazing areas. Graziers are also likely to be able to market cows which have therefore gained more weight prior to muster.
Electric shock treatment for animals by farmers: What is electro-immobilisation?
(Note: spelling of term varies; e.g. electro-immobilisation, electroimmobilisation, electro-immobilization, electroimmobilization etc)
Electro-immobilisation is the use of pulsed, low frequency electrical current to produce restraint of an animal. It produces tetanic contractions* of skeletal muscles and therefore voluntary movement is not possible. Movement is regained as soon as the current is switched off.(* Fusion of a number of simple spasms into an apparently smooth, continuous effort, is known as tetanic contraction.)
Throughout the electro-immobilisation process, the animal remains completely consious.
This photo shows an animal frothing at the mouth during electro-immobilisation
(Photo copyright Animal Liberation NSW Australia)
Electro-immobilisation should not be confused with electric stunning which, when applied correctly, causes a high amperage current to be passed through the brain, rendering the animal instantly unconscious. When electro-immobilisation is used, a small current is passed through the body, paralysing the muscles but not making the animal unconscious.
What equipment is used?
Electro-immobilisation equipment consists of a unit that produces the electrical current (this looks a bit like a large torch), and then wires with attachments to be put on to the animal.
How is electro-immobilisation carried out?
There are three main methods of electro-immobilisation that can be used:
- Nose-to-tail or head to tail. Electrodes are attached to the head of the animals usually via an electrode clip attached to the corner of the mouth or cheek and also to the caudal fold on the tail of the animal using a needle.
- Back-to-tail. Electrodes are inserted above the lumbar vertebra and through the caudal fold of the tail.
- Rectally. An electrode is inserted into the rectum.
The current is then switched on at a low current. The current is then increased, resulting in immobility and rigidity of the animal. Sometimes this paralyses the animal's respiratory muscles and the animal stops breathing. The current must then be reduced and the animal will start to breath again. Breathing is often laboured. Use of excessive current can lead to death.
This photo shows electro-immobilisation in use.
(Photo copyright Animal Liberation NSW Australia)
What animals is electro-immobilisation used on?
Electro-immobilisation can potentially be used on a range of species such as cattle, deer and sheep. In the Republic of Ireland, electro-immobilisation is used mainly on cattle.
What is electro-immobilisation used for,
This photo shows an animal's eye rolling back as electro-immobilisation is applied.
(Photo copyright Animal Liberation NSW Australia)
Electro-immobilisation is used to make animals that are hard to handle stay still while procedures such as dehorning are carried out. Even though a local anesthetic may be used for some procedures, it is the electro-immobilisation process itself that animals find distressing.
Is electro-immobilisation legal in other countries?
Electro-immobilisation is prohibited in England under “The Welfare of Farmed Animals (England) Regulations 2000 (Statutory Instrument 2000 No. 1870)”. This says: "No person shall apply an electrical current to any animals for the purposes of immobilisation." (Schedule 1, paragraph 30). It is understood that similar legislation exists for the rest of the UK.
Electro-immobilisers are banned in New South Wales, Australia, except when used by specifically trained veterinarians during procedures where analgesia or anaesthesia is not required. Tasmania has similar restrictions to New South Wales.
The European Union has not banned electro-immobilisation. However, a restriction for its use is provided in Article 3 of Council Directive 98/58/EC on the protection of animals kept for farming purposes: "Member States shall make provision to ensure that the owners or keepers take all responsible steps to ensure the welfare of animals under their care and to ensure that those animals are not caused any unnecessary pain, suffering or injury."
Why should electro-immobilisation be banned
The science shows that animals find electro-immobilisation aversive, physically stressful, psychologically stressful, noxious and unpleasant (see references below).
There is no need for this inhumane form of restraint. Procedures such as dehorning should be carried out when an animal is young so that extreme forms of restraint, such as electro-immobilisation, are not necessary.
With regard to de-horning of cattle, there is no need for electro-immobilisation to be used. Instead, these animals could be disbudded when they are young calves, being easy to handle at this age.
Because electro-immobilisation renders the animal unable to move, there is a risk that unscrupulous people (not vets) could subject animals to painful procedures without the use of a local anasthetic or painkillers.
Above information provided by liveexportshame.com. Please visit their website for more information.
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