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Edition 19: Animal welfare

In this edition:
What is animal welfare?
Sheep eating from a pile of hay

Animal welfare is the responsibility of everyone involved with animals. 

‘Animal welfare’ can be described as how an animal is coping with the conditions in which it lives. Good welfare can be achieved through: 

  • Proper and sufficient food and water 
  • Adequate shelter and comfort 
  • The ability to express innate behaviour and experience positive mental states 
  • Protection from, and rapid diagnosis of, injury and disease 
  • Handling, husbandry, and slaughter/ killing techniques that minimise pain and distress 
  • Protection from states of pain, fear, and distress.
Why worry about animal welfare?
Four goats eating from a trough

Animal welfare matters because:

  • All Victorians expect animals will be treated with care and respect.
  • You or anyone caring for your livestock are required to provide care.
  • Poor animal welfare impacts on production.
  • Animal welfare issues jeopardise the reputation and credibility or farmers and landowners and may be a source of tension between neighbours.
Develop an animal health and welfare plan

Your on-farm biosecurity plan should define your animal health and welfare responsibilities. Landholders who are accredited under the Livestock Product Assurance program must meet specific animal welfare requirements.

You can work with your farm consultant/veterinarian or local Agriculture Victoria Animal Health Staff to assess the welfare of your livestock and to develop a plan to improve areas where welfare issues are identified. 

An animal health plan could include:

  • Feed - ensuring supplies of proper and sufficient feed to meet your animal's needs.
  • Water - adequate and accessible drinking water.
  • Preventive health treatments - vaccination, drenching.
  • Monitoring, supervision and veterinary treatment - providing a prompt response when animals need extra care.
  • Shelter- protection from climatic extremes 
  • Annual shearing for non-shedding sheep, alpacas and some goats.
  • Separating entire males and females to prevent indiscriminate and inappropriate mating.
  • Seeking further training to improve knowledge and skills.
  • Appropriate equipment and infrastructure will make achieving these things much easier, e.g. water troughs, fencing, handling facilities, artificial shade structures.
  • It is also important to recognise when to cull or euthanase animals in your care to prevent excessive stocking rates or prolonged suffering. If your circumstances change and you can no longer provide the care your animals need, it is important to reduce your stock numbers or destock.
Animal welfare legislation and Codes of Practice

Ensure you and your staff are familiar with relevant animal welfare legislation, Standards and Guidelines and Codes of Practice for the species kept on your property. 

Failure to comply with animal welfare legislation may result in regulatory action being taken.

Reporting animal cruelty
  • Agriculture Victoria - investigate matters concerning commercial numbers of livestock (10 or more head). Call our customer contact centre on 136 186 or email
  • RSPCA – investigates complaints about companion animals and livestock species where there are less than 10 head on the property (for example hobby farm animals).
  • DEECA Wildlife – If you find a sick or injured native animals. Call customer contact centre on 136 186.
  • Victoria Police – If there has been a road transport accident involving animals (for example a truck rollover) always call the police. Police can also investigate complaints of cruelty.
  • Local Government – investigate concerns with domestic animal business or roaming animals
Further information

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We have added the Backyard Biosecurity newsletter series to the Agriculture Victoria website, to enable you to easily find a previous edition.


Agriculture Victoria

Contacting Agriculture Victoria

Call 136 186 from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call (except for mobiles and public telephones).

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment contact the National Relay Service on 133 677 or

All contact points can be found at:

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