Animal Welfare

Animal Welfare

Objective

At Paraway, we recognise that humane treatment of animals is an ethical responsibility. Additionally, it is also a business issue as good animal welfare leads to better livestock quality and production outcomes. We ensure that the design and management of our production systems consider the welfare of animals on farm and through the supply chain.

Scope

Our Animal Welfare Policy and disclosure applies to all Paraway employees, contractors, visitors, livestock enterprises and geographical regions unless explicitly stated. Our approach and disclosures referencing livestock are specific to the species, livestock classes and geographic regions stated, and are not universal. When the terms “cattle” and “sheep” are used without specifying the livestock class or geographic region, the statement applies to all Paraway livestock in that species. When “livestock” or “animals” is used without additional specification, the statement applies to all Paraway livestock.

Animal Welfare Policy

Paraway’s Animal Welfare Policy ensures that our management of animal welfare is in line with relevant legislation and the Five Freedoms of animals. By providing:

  • Freedom from hunger and thirst by ready access to water and a diet to maintain health and vigour.
  • Freedom from day to day physical discomfort by providing an appropriate environment including shelter and comfortable rest areas.
  • Freedom from pain, injury and disease by prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment.
  • Freedom to display normal patterns of behaviour by providing sufficient space, proper facilities and appropriate company of the animal’s own kind.
  • Freedom from unnecessary fear and distress by ensuring conditions and treatment, which avoid mental suffering.

Legislative compliance and the Five Freedoms are seen as the absolute minimum standard at Paraway, and our approach and policy exceed these standards.

The policy details Paraway’s approach to achieving our animal welfare objectives and our monitoring and governance.

The Animal Welfare Policy is reviewed and updated annually. Any changes are presented to the Paraway board of Directors for approval. All Station Managers and staff are informed of the animal welfare policy as part of their employment induction and following material changes to the policy. Click here to view our Animal Welfare Policy.

 

Accreditation and external audit

All of Paraway’s livestock enterprises are accredited under the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program, which covers food safety, animal welfare and biosecurity. Under LPA, on-farm systems must be implemented to ensure the handling of livestock is consistent with the requirements of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for cattle and sheep.

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines detail responsibilities and set out animals’ needs in relation to feed and water, risk management in extreme weather, natural disasters, disease, injury and predation, facilities and equipment, handling and management/husbandry, breeding management, and humane killing.

For cattle, the Standards and Guidelines also cover castration, dehorning and spaying, calf rearing systems, and beef feedlots.
For sheep, the Standards and Guidelines address tail docking and castration, mulesing, and intensive sheep production systems.

Qualified auditors from AUS-MEAT conduct on-farm audits for LPA. The audit program is overseen by Integrity Systems Company.

In 2019, five Paraway stations were externally audited for LPA accreditation. In 2020, an additional three were audited.

 

Training

Paraway provides staff with training to provide the skills to implement Paraway’s Animal Welfare Policy. Training is dependent on job requirements and can include low stress stock handing and vaccination administration. A training register is maintained to ensure that employees are capable of undertaking the requirements of their role without compromising the welfare of our animals.

New seasonal staff in the northern region undertake a 2-4 day course (experience dependent) in low stress stock handling, facilitated by an experienced external provider.

 

Research and innovation

Paraway is involved in several research projects and trials aimed at improving animal welfare outcomes. Current and planned projects and trials include:

  • Trial use of dual pain relief (topical anaesthetic and anti-inflammatory) at lamb marking.
  • Trial of freeze branding with pain relief to manage breech wrinkle as an alternative to surgical mulesing with pain relief.
  • Research project on the use of anti-inflammatory medication to reduce stress during transport.
  • Research project on the inclusion of legume species in Northern cattle operations to improve feed conversion and nutrition.
  • Genetic and visual selection program at our Pooginook Merino Stud (https://www.facebook.com/PooginookMerino/) with increased focus on traits to eliminate the need for breech modification, producing a more ethical animal to our customers as well as through our internal supply chain.
  • Increasing the proportion of polled European cattle genetics in the breeding programs on stations below the tick line.

In 2019, Paraway chaired a meeting of the Northern Pastoral Group which comprises some of the major public and private companies involved in cattle production in Northern Australia. At this meeting, the group’s approach to Animal Welfare was the main agenda item. Following this meeting an assessment tool was developed to allow users to assess their animal welfare performance and progress. The tool was developed to specifically address the animal welfare issues in the extensive northern beef industry.

In 2020, Paraway met with key industry bodies and customers to discuss among other things, our approach to animal welfare and our performance in internal and independent benchmarking.

Our Pooginook Merino Stud also promotes our higher animal welfare activities through its Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/PooginookMerino/, including our genetic program for a plainer breech. The stud also holds open days to promote its non-modified breech strategy (details on the Facebook page).

Transport

Paraway predominantly operates large scale cattle and sheep stations where livestock are raised in extensive, natural outdoor environments which allow animals to roam freely, graze, socialise and express natural behaviours. In order to manage our animal in this way at scale, our stations are in regional and often remote locations, which require livestock to be transported over long distances. We minimise the stress that this may cause by appropriately preparing our livestock for the journeys and generally locating our internal supply chains within species and breed appropriate travel times. We also ensure that staff responsible for loading livestock are trained is assessing the fitness of livestock for loading.
Welfare at slaughter

Welfare at slaughter

Paraway endeavours to ensure that all our livestock are humanely slaughtered by pre-slaughter stunning. While we do not commercially slaughter any of our livestock, we sell a proportion of our livestock to meat processors. It is Paraway’s position to only sell slaughter livestock to processors that stun prior to slaughter. These are licenced animal welfare accredited processors, which are required by law to be stunned. They are independently audited to ensure effective stunning, and this is also confirmed by Paraway staff. For other livestock sales we try, as far as possible to ensure that the livestock will be pre-slaughter stunned by having a detailed understanding of our supply chain and customers.

 

Targets, objectives and performance metrics

Paraway is committed to ongoing improvement of the welfare of our animals. We review our targets and objectives in line with the availability of new technologies and genetics. Over the next 5 years, an emphasis is being placed on our management procedures as well as genetics. This is being implemented at the station level and overseen by management.

A selection of our objectives and targets is presented below.

 

Objective Target
Livestock above Board approved minimum body condition scores (BCS) 100% - ongoing
Pre slaughter stunning of contracted slaughter livestock 100% - ongoing
Compulsory use of pre-procedure pain relief for surgical husbandry procedures, including rubber ring castration 100% - by 2020
All livestock staff in northern region trained or assessed to be competent in low stress stock handling 100% - ongoing
Livestock at any time that are confinement free, grazing in extensive, natural production systems (excluding drought feeding and seasonal feed gaps)

 

Cattle 90%

Sheep 90%

 

 

Further detail on the implementation of these and other targets and objectives is in our Animal Welfare Policy.

Public disclosure of animal welfare metrics commenced in 2019 and is presented below.

Animal Welfare Performance Metrics 2017 Result 2018 Result 2019 Result 2020 Result
Percentage of any class of cattle within a region below BCS 2 1% 0%
Percentage of sheep in any class at BCS 1.5 or below 0% 0%
Livestock sold to slaughter to independently animal welfare accredited abattoirs and/or Paraway checked to ensure that livestock are pre-slaughter stunned 100% 100%
Livestock provided pre-procedure pain relief for essential husbandry procedures

 

Cattle 100%
Sheep 98%
Percentage of livestock that are confinement free1. Free to express natural behaviours in a natural enriched environment2.

 

Cattle 98%
Sheep 98%
Percentage of internally transferred animals transported in 8hrs or less 75.4%
Average internal transport times3 (hrs).

 

Cattle 10.1
Sheep 3.5
Number of road traffic incidents involving transport of livestock. 0
Animal welfare transparency measured independently by the Business Benchmark on Farm Animal Welfare (BBFAW) Tier 5 Tier 4 Tier 3 TBC
  1. Excluding drought feeding and seasonal feed gaps
  2. Natural behaviour includes socialising, exploring, resting, ruminating and the young bonding with mother. Enriched environments can include unrestricted access to water and feed, space to roam and shade.
  3. Many long duration transport trips include spelling, which splits the trip into shorter segments either side of a rest period. In 2020, trips with spelling were treated as a single journey thereby overestimating the average transport times.