About the sheep welfare code

The Australian 'Model code of practice for the welfare of animals - sheep' is a voluntary code under the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001. It contains information and guidelines to provide minimum acceptable outcomes for the welfare of sheep. It applies to all ages and types of sheep, whether kept commercially or as a hobby.

The code promotes animal welfare outcomes for sheep by defining acceptable management practices, and encouraging considerate and efficient treatment and handling.

The code has been developed in consultation with animal industries, animal welfare organisations, and relevant state and federal government groups. It is one of a series of national animal welfare codes for livestock.

Aspects of the sheep welfare code

The sheep code outlines the basic welfare needs of sheep, 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:

  • food and water
  • drought
  • protection from climatic extremes, natural disasters and predators
  • intensive sheep systems
  • sheep handling facilities
  • supervision
  • management practices, such as shearing and foot care
  • surgical procedures, such as tail docking
  • euthanasia
  • important practices governing animal welfare, including protection from disease
  • an appendix providing guidelines on mulesing sheep.

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

Duty of care to sheep

Anyone who owns, manages or handles sheep may be responsible for ensuring acceptable welfare outcomes of the sheep. This includes:

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

Other welfare codes relevant to sheep

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

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

Those involved in feral animal control should be familiar with the code of practice for the destruction or capture, handling and marketing of feral livestock animals.

Also consider...