Australian dairy industry recognises need for bobby calves slaughter standard

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 14th November 2011

A national standard for the amount of time allowed between the last feed and slaughter of bobby calves in Australia has been agreed to by the main players in the Australian dairy industry.

Bobby calves are the young male calves which are slaughtered for human consumption every year. They are the bi-product of the dairy industry as milking cows must be impregnated to lactate each year and the male calves are eliminated since they cannot produce milk.

The industry decision came after Primary Industries Ministerial Council discussed a new standard at a meeting on 28 October 2011, but could not reach agreement on the maximum period of time between a bobby calf’s last feed and its slaughter.

The push for a national standard on the slaughter of bobby calves has been spearheaded by dairy industry representative body Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF). ADF’s Chair of Animal Health and Welfare, David Basham, told Australian Food News today that the ADF is hoping new legislation will be brought in by the Australian Government in 2012.

Mr Basham said, “We were surprised by the lack of direction given by the ministerial council – we were expecting to have some sort of decision from the meeting. Members of the dairy industry’s supply chain last week discussed a new standard. Members agreed there is a need for an upper time limit to be put in place.

“We have agreed to hold a second meeting in December to progress but at the moment we are looking at an upper limit of 30 hours.”

The issue was initially ignited by a campaign by animal welfare group Animals Australia against the way bobby calves are currently treated in Australia.

Currently, each State and Territory government is responsible for its own animal production and welfare legislation. There is currently no legislation relating to a time limit between the last feed and slaughter of bobby calves in Australia.

A statement released by Animals Australia said, “The current system fails to protect some 800,000 of these vulnerable young calves each year, allowing them to be held overnight at abattoirs without bedding and without milk. Agriculture Ministers have dithered and allowed cruel practices to persist when science and common decency should have prevailed.”