September 12, 2013
Farm animal welfare is an increasingly significant issue in Australia and overseas, and the bobby calf trade in particular is an emotive and sensitive subject.
Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) Leading Animal Health Officer in Animal Welfare, Sue Vaughan, said to protect the dairy industry, producers, buyers, transporters and abattoir staff must meet the agreed standards for bobby calf welfare.
The Land Transport Standards set out the requirements which livestock operators must comply with to ensure the welfare of livestock under their control.
“If you handle or transport bobby calves you have a legal duty to care for their welfare,” Ms Vaughan said.
New signage at the Shepparton saleyards and other Victorian sale outlets and abattoirs outlines very clearly what is expected when handling bobby calves.
Ms Vaughan said producers must ensure that every bobby calf offered for sale is at least five days old and must weigh at least 23 kilos.
“Bobby calves must be fed milk or milk replacer within six hours of consignment off farm and be strong and healthy for transportation,” she said.
“The Land Transport Standards state that a person in charge of a bobby calf which is being transported must ensure the calf has an auditable and accessible record system that identifies when the calf was last fed.
“The vehicle or trailer being used to transport bobby calves must be clean and have an enclosed front and a non-slip floor. Space allowance should be such that injury to calves in transit is avoided and that they are not overcrowded. Calves should be able to rise from a lying position.”
Ms Vaughan said calves should always be handled with great care. The use of dogs or electric prodders on bobby calves is prohibited by law and bobby calves must not be manhandled.
“Selling calves that are immature, weak or sick is cruel and can result in premature death and may lead to prosecution,” she said.
By following these guidelines, the producer will have done everything in their power to maintain the bobby calves’ health and welfare.