About the animal welfare codes of practice

Model codes of practice for the welfare of animals (animal welfare codes) cover the main considerations to achieve a desired animal welfare outcome. For a particular type of livestock, the animal welfare codes includes guidance on feed and water, housing, health, management practices, breeding and emergency slaughter.

Animal welfare codes usually contain a mix of general and prescriptive statements. They are not comprehensive manuals on how to care for animals. They do not contain detailed animal care information, such as diets, plans for building animal accommodation or animal health regimes.

If you live in Queensland and you intend to keep animals, especially ones that you have little knowledge or experience about, you should:

  • get detailed animal care information
  • be aware of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (the Act), Queensland's animal welfare legislation
  • read and comply with any relevant animal welfare codes that are adopted or made compulsory under the Act
  • read about your duty of care, and the relationship between that duty of care and adopted codes of practice under the Act.

Benefits of animal welfare codes

Animal welfare codes can go into much more detail about individual types of animals or animal use than animal welfare legislation can.

Animal welfare codes are also very useful for informing the general community, both in Australia and overseas, about agreed animal welfare standards in Australia.

Although each Australian state and territory has its own animal welfare legislation, many animal welfare codes are national, ensuring some consistency in animal welfare standards.

Development of animal welfare codes

All of the animal welfare codes associated with the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld) have undergone an extensive period of consultation in their development either at state or national level.

The majority of these animal welfare codes are nationally endorsed. Groups involved in developing them include state, territory and Australian government agencies, animal user groups and major animal welfare organisations. Many drafts are usually prepared over 2–3 years and wide consultation is conducted on each draft.

There are often different views on animal welfare issues. Most animal welfare codes contain standards that are a compromise between optimising the welfare of animals and the interests of people whose livelihood depends on animals. This is why animal welfare codes generally set the minimum acceptable animal welfare principles for the particular animals.

Changes to the national model codes of practice for the welfare of animals

Many animal welfare codes of practice are now being replaced by standards and guidelines documents.

The Australian animal welfare standards and guidelines: Land transport of livestock (PDF, 1.2MB) is one example of a nationally endorsed document that has replaced a number of codes of practice relating to the transport of livestock.

More recently, the model codes of practice for cattle, sheep and animals at saleyards have undergone a comprehensive review and have been replaced with national standards and guidelines.

Once written into legislation, the 'standards' are requirements that must be met under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld). The 'guidelines' are practices recommended to achieve desirable animal welfare outcomes.

Learn more about animal welfare standards and guidelines.