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.

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.

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.

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.

Targets, objectives and performance metrics

Paraway is committed to continual improvement of the welfare of our animals. We set targets, including:

  • Board approved minimum body condition scores (BCS),
  • 100% stunning of contracted slaughter livestock,
  • 100% use of pain relief for surgical husbandry procedures.
  • 100% of seasonal staff in northern region trained or assessed to be competent in low stress stock handling

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

Public disclosure of metrics commenced in 2019 and is presented below. Moving forward additional metrics may be added and performance trends will be established.

Metrics 2019 Result
Proportion of any class of cattle within a region below BCS 2 1%
Proportion of sheep in any class at BCS 1.5 or below 0%
Percentage of livestock sold to slaughter to independently animal welfare accredited abattoirs and therefore pre-slaughter stunned 100%