Voluntary codes of practice for animal welfare

Voluntary codes are named (or 'made') in schedule 3 of the Animal Care and Protection Regulation 2012.

They are not compulsory under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001.

These codes contain guidelines and information on the minimum acceptable animal welfare outcomes for a particular type of animal or animal use.

Using the codes in livestock industries

Most codes adopted under the Act are about livestock, including feral livestock.

The livestock codes are part of a national series endorsed by the Standing Council on Primary Industries. These codes contain minimum requirements of animal welfare in the livestock industries. They have been developed in consultation with animal industries, animal welfare groups, and relevant state and federal government departments.

Those working in livestock industries need to be familiar with the relevant animal welfare codes. You may need to be familiar with a number of codes to understand your responsibilities in managing, transporting and marketing livestock.

Although compliance with voluntary codes is not compulsory under the Act, people in charge of animals should use them as a reference to help them meet their duty of care. Animal welfare inspectors refer to voluntary codes when assessing whether people are meeting their duty of care and issuing people with animal welfare directions.

Non-compliance with voluntary codes

Because voluntary codes are not compulsory, non-compliance with a voluntary code is not automatically an offence under the Animal Care and Protection Act. However, non-compliance is admissible in evidence in a court case for an offence, such as breach of duty of care.

Compliance with a voluntary code requirement does not automatically protect someone against prosecution for an offence under the Act. For example, an operator may meet the requirements in the cattle code for castration that relate to the age of cattle when the procedure is performed, but still breach their duty of care if the person was not competent to perform the procedure.