Emu welfare code

The Australian 'Model code of practice for the welfare of animals: husbandry of captive-bred emus' is a voluntary code under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (the Act). It's a guide for those responsible for the welfare or management of emus and is aimed at achieving humane husbandry throughout all types of emu enterprises. The model code is being reviewed together with the Model code of practice for the welfare of animals – domestic poultry (4th edition) and once finalised, will be replaced by Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines for poultry.

Emus are kept in situations that vary from extensive grazing to close confinement and housing. Whether kept commercially or as a hobby, emu owners, managers and handlers have a responsibility for the health, welfare and considerate treatment of the birds under their control.

The code is a set of guidelines to help people understand the standard of care required to meet their obligations under the Act.

The code was developed in consultation with animal industries, animal welfare groups, and relevant state and federal government bodies. It is one of a series of national animal welfare codes for livestock. The current code (2nd edition) was published in 2006.

Aspects of the emu welfare code

The emu code outlines the basic welfare needs of emus and emphasises the importance of skills and attitudes of managers and stock people in achieving good animal welfare outcomes.

The code covers the animal welfare aspects of:

  • housing from young chicks to mature emus
  • the type of equipment needed
  • protection of emus from predators and other hazards
  • food and water needs
  • handling and yard facilities
  • special requirements for health, de-clawing and transportation
  • hatchery management
  • humane slaughter of emus.

The code is not a comprehensive manual on how to care for emus and does not provide detailed information such as diets or animal health regimes.

Duty of care to emus

Anyone who owns, manages or handles emus may have a legal duty of care under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 and be responsible for ensuring acceptable welfare standards for emus in their charge. This includes:

  • emu owners (commercial and non-commercial)
  • syndicates
  • saleyard agents
  • stock managers
  • veterinarians
  • stock handlers
  • processors
  • contractors
  • transporters.

Other welfare codes relevant to emus

Everyone involved in transporting emus must comply with the compulsory code of practice for transport of livestock.

More information on the appropriate care and handling of emus is contained in the animal welfare codes for livestock at slaughtering establishments.

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