Your obligation to care for livestock in drought

Good planning is essential to ensure that, if a drought occurs, you are still able to protect the welfare of your livestock. You should incorporate animal welfare standards in your management plan to account for variations in rainfall and climate.

The standards below outline your roles and responsibilities for animal care under animal welfare laws.

Legal duty of care

The Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 places a legal duty of care on those in charge of animals to provide for their needs. This includes providing suitable food and water.

Appropriate care

You are obligated by duty of care to implement drought management strategies that provide appropriate care for animals.

When deciding what is appropriate care, you must consider the animal's species, environment, circumstances and steps a reasonable person would be expected to take.

Model codes of practice

The Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 recognises the Australian model codes of practice for the welfare of animals for various livestock species. These codes provide guidelines for animal husbandry and management, and outline the obligations of livestock owners to maintain the wellbeing of their animals.

The Act and the codes state that it is unacceptable to allow an animal to die from lack of suitable feed or water. This includes during times of drought. The key industry bodies endorse this principle.

Defining acceptable animal welfare

Some codes are available to help animal industries determine 'acceptable' animal welfare, especially where seasonal conditions increase the risk to animals. These codes may change as scientific knowledge, industry practices or community expectations change.

As Queensland's rainfall is seasonal and variable, pasture quantity and quality change accordingly. As a result, so does the condition of grazing animals. It is normal for grazing animals to gain weight during summer and autumn, and maintain or lose weight during winter and spring.

The effect of these seasonal conditions on pasture quantity and quality is usually evident well before any impact on animals.

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