From July 1, a number of new guidelines and standards relating to livestock transportation will be introduced and, for the first time, gradually rolled out throughout the entire country.
The document, aptly titled The Australian Standards and Guidelines for the Welfare of Animals - Land Transport of Livestock (LTS) has been finalised after a five year period of informed discussion and debate amongst industry and animal welfare organisations, peak industry councils and the government.
Guidelines for livestock transportation currently differ between Australian states and territories, which often results in rules being breached when state borders are crossed.
These new guidelines will effectively remove all existing codes of practice, which will result in consistent livestock transportation practices nation wide.
The primary aim of these guidelines is to ensure that the welfare of all livestock is maintained during the transportation process.
The guidelines cover a variety of different aspects of the livestock transportation process. They detail allowable handling and waiting times prior to loading, travel conditions and maximum journey durations.
They also outline the maximum amount of time that livestock can go without food or water. For example, adult sheep and cattle can go without water for a maximum of 48 hours, any longer and this will be considered a breach of guidelines.
Perhaps most importantly, they outline that livestock must be healthy enough prior to embarking on a lengthy journey.
The new guidelines touch on all livestock transportation methods by road, rail and water, and cover 12 different animal species including sheep, horses, pigs, goats, emus, deer and poultry.
The guidelines will be delivered by a range of groups, including state and territory government agencies, animal welfare organisations and professional associations.
The Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF) will provide coordination and program management.
All those involved in the livestock transportation process must adhere to these guidelines, from producers and agents through to livestock transporters and processors.
State and territory governments will be responsible for regulating the guidelines, and they will penalise those who breach them accordingly.