April 19, 2013
Is it my imagination or has there been an escalation of animal rights activity against broadacre graziers lately? The latest revelations on last week’s ABC Country Hour, from an RSPCA spokesperson, should send shivers down the spine of every farmer in the country. Unfortunately, I missed the interview on Tuesday last week, but there was so much concern among cockies that my phone was running hot with outraged livestock vendors. Evidently the RSPCA’s scientific officer for farm animals Melina Tensen said that being transported to saleyards is stressful for livestock. What a shock. I wonder whether they have worked-out that anytime somebody works livestock at all, it is stressful. Ms Tensen said: “The loading, transporting and unloading of cattle is very stressful to these animals, so the saleyard is essentially an additional step in that process from bringing the animals from the farm to their final destination. We would hope to see, eventually, saleyards not being necessary at all, because animals can be consigned directly from farm to their final destination.” If you thought that this was going to be a disparaging piece about the various animal welfare groups, think again. I have decided to embrace their manifesto. No handling of livestock because of stress is a good theory and it is strangely liberating. Firstly, it makes the husbandry of cattle and sheep far easier, bull calves no longer have to be cut, no eartagging would be allowed and it would not be the least bit advisable to pull a calf from a heifer or cow in trouble, just in case the stress levels rose a touch. Sheep breeders would swoon at the thought of not having to crutch, shear, drench, jet or tail their sheep. They would retire the faithful dog because the bark is now somehow just as stressful as the bite – what bliss!