Sheep Background

The ‘Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep’ are part of a series of projects to develop livestock welfare standards and guidelines.

The standards and guidelines for sheep are refined from the Model Code of Practice for the welfare of animals (MCOP) and will apply to all people responsible for the care and management of sheep.

The state and territory governments are responsible for the regulation of animal welfare in Australia.

‘The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep’ aim to follow the principles described in the revised Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines Development Business Plan.

The sheep writing group, was responsible for drafting the standards and guidelines for sheep, and was comprised of representatives from: Animal Welfare Committee (AWC), Sheepmeat Council, WoolProducers, CSIRO science and the Department of Agriculture (formerly DAFF) and led by an independent Chair and supported by Animal Health Australia (AHA).

The sheep reference group was comprised of representatives from all aspects of sheep care and management. Reference group meetings were held to review the standards and guidelines draft and to provide further guidance; public consultation period is part of the process.

From an animal welfare perspective, this process will cover all welfare aspects for sheep. The draft standards and guidelines for sheep currently include chapters on:

  • Responsibilities
  • Feed and water
  • Risk management of extreme weather, natural disasters, disease, injury and predation
  • Facilities and equipment
  • Handling and husbandry
  • Tail docking and castration
  • Mulesing
  • Breeding management
  • Intensive sheep production systems
  • Humane killing

Each chapter within the standards and guidelines for sheep contain:

  • Objectives – these are the intended overall outcome(s) for each section of the standards and guidelines
  • Standards – these are the requirements that must be met under animal welfare law
  • Guidelines – these are the recommended practices to achieve desirable animal welfare outcomes; they describe better animal welfare outcomes compared to the standards. Non-compliance with guidelines will not be an offence.

The Regulation Impact Analysis

A key aspect of creating new animal welfare standards is to identify the costs and benefits that they will have for a wide range of stakeholders. This is typically done by preparing a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS).

A RIS is a required document prepared by the department, agency, statutory authority or board responsible for a regulatory proposal. The RIS includes recommendations for the most effective and efficient option and formalises and documents how authorities have assessed the costs, benefits and the possible changes to an existing (or a new) regulation.

Authorities are required to conduct public consultation to seek feedback and determine the level of support for the RIS. When the RIS is assessed, it must include a consultation statement that shows how consultation was undertaken, who was consulted and a summary of their views, and those views that were considered.

Page reviewed 30 Jan 2017