There has been widespread talk over animal welfare issues in Ireland, mostly in part due to the exclusive story from ThatsFarming of the bullock at the Ballina mart last week. With this in mind we give a general list of do's and don'ts when it comes to animal welfare. Check out the lists below, to ensure you are operating your farm to the highest animal welfare standards.
- Ensure the animal is kept and treated in a manner safeguarding their health and welfare.
- An animal should not be neglected, and should have adequate supplies of fresh food and water.
- When an animal is suffering from health problems or problems where recovery is impossible they should have access to the required treatment and if all else fails an animal should be put down to prevent further suffering.
- An animal's remains should be disposed of correctly and as soon as possible, to avoid disease spreading to other animals. A farmer should do all he/she can to prevent the spreading of disease in their animals.
- All structures and housing units for livestock must be safe for them to live in. These structures must be built and maintained to ensure that no injury is suffered or unnecessary suffering of an animal occurs.
- An animal should be checked regularly for disease and a herd test carried out every year by vets. Any animal found with a disease should be treated as soon as possible, to prevent further suffering. Regular mandatory dosing is recommended to ensure your animals health is optimal.
- In general if in doubt look to the Five Freedoms concept. These are Animals have the right to a freedom from thirst, hunger and malnutrition, right to a freedom from discomfort, a right to a freedom from pain, injury and disease, a right to freedom of expressing normal patterns and behaviours. And finally a right for a freedom from fear and distress.
- A good stock man should be able to recognise whether or not the animals are in good health. Regular checking for these signs of ill health are vital, which include: loss of appetite, cessation of chewing cud, discharge from eyes or nostrils, dribbling, persistent coughing, lameness, swollen joints, rapid loss of body condition, excessive scratching, abnormal skin conditions or other unusual conditions)
- They must also be able to understand the significance of a change in the behaviour of the animals and how vital it is to notice it on time.
- A bedded area should be provided with non-slip flooring and access to a clean water supply for badly injured or sick animals needing housing.
- Farmers should implement a planned herd health programme to prevent animal welfare issues arising.(e.g. preventative treatments, vaccinations)
- Handling animals with care, avoiding undue stress is vital, especially when transporting animals a long distance.
- When housing animals all houses should be adequately ventilated allowing for an adequate supply of fresh air. This allows for heat dissipation and preventing the build-up of carbon dioxide, ammonia or slurry gases.
- Surfaces on which cattle walk should be designed, constructed and maintained to avoid discomfort, stress or injury to any animals. Uneven surfaces cause bruising of the feet, while smoother surfaces lead to slipping.
- The accommodation should contain a sufficient source of natural or artificial light so as not to cause discomfort to the animals.
- All electrical fittings in sheds should meet Health and Safety requirements to ensure no fire occurs.
- Never leave an ill animal to suffer, in the hope it may recover itself. It is a farmer's job to ensure the health of their livestock. Every animal has the right to veterinary treatment when ill, and it is the obligation of the farmer to source this.
- Never abandon an animal.
- Never subject an animal to heavy beatings using sticks or any other apparatus. Threatening animals is also a big no-no.
- When transporting an animal, one should ensure conditions are safe for the animals involved. They should have access to clean food and water, and in times of extremely long journeys animals should be given access to fresh air.
- When castrating, all calves over 6 months old must be administered anaesthetic. All castrations should be carried out in alignment with the Protections of Animals Act (Amendment) 1965.
- Dehorning should also be carried out according to strict guidelines in place. Older methods of this are now not allowed.
- Never expect your animal to source their own water supply. It is your job as a farmer to ensure they have enough fresh, clean water.
- Ensure your animal has enough food. Don't feed an animal the bare minimum, especially if they are coming up to calving season as they will need all the energy they have.
Animals have the same basic rights as humans. Depriving your animal comfort, food, water, adequate shelter, medications or allowing it to suffer are serious crimes punishable in court. Treat your animal as you would like to see yourself treated.