Cattle grazing in a pasture. Ethical handling of cattle

Ethical Handling of Cattle

As Australian consumers become increasingly conscientious of where their produce come from, ethical treatment of livestock is becoming more critical for farmers. Both the dairy and beef agricultural sectors have received far more public attention for the conditions in which reared cattle live in. Never has it been so important to ensure that your handling of livestock meets ethical standards.

Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines Ethical Handling of Cattle

The key document for ethical raising of cattle is the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle. The 11 sections covered by the resource are:

  1. Responsibilities
  2. Feed and water
  3. Risk management of extreme weather, natural disasters, injury and predation
  4. Facilities and equipment
  5. Handling and management
  6. Castration, dehorning and spaying
  7. Breeding management
  8. Calf-rearing systems
  9. Dairy management
  10. Beef feedlots
  11. Humane killing

Drought and Bushfire

Farmers must plan to minimise the risks from adverse weather to cattle. In Australia, two especially important considerations include drought and bushfire.


Looking after cattle during times of drought should involve advanced planning and strategy implementation before feed and water runs out. Relocation and supplementary feeding and water supplies should be in place.


The creation of safe paddocks is critical to the protection of livestock during the hotter months in bushfire prone regions. A safe paddock is free from thick combustible brush, vegetation and haystacks, is easily accessible with reliable fencing and plenty of space and most importantly, has an available water supply which does not rely on electronic pumps.


Should animals die on your property, it’s critical that the carcasses are immediately removed and disposed of in an environmentally conscientious manner. Unfortunately, adverse weather conditions and other forces may sometimes put animals in a condition that requires euthanasia. If this is the case, humane killing must be employed.

LPA Standards

Other standards exist beyond those legislated by the government. While not legally binding, it is within farmer’s best interests to follow other guidelines as well; failure to do so results in a negatively differentiated product which less ethically sourced and poorer quality. One such group of guidelines are the Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) standards, which pertain to food safety, biosecurity and animal welfare. With respect to the ethical handling of cattle, key LPA standards include:

  • Adherence to the safe and responsible animal treatments checklist
  • Documentation of all animal treatment
  • Having a copy of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines on hand – any persons responsible for handling of livestock need to have completed relevant training; similarly, other staff involved must also be familiar with the standards


Ethical handling of cattle should be a priority for farmers. Support for animal welfare and responsible sourcing of produce is being thrust into the spotlight more and more. Ethical rearing of livestock is a requisite in running a conscientiously sustainable farm.

For farmers, cattle often represent their family’s livelihood. Animals deserve to be treated with respect and handled in the most ethical manner possible. For more information on creating the most ideal and ethical conditions for your cattle, reach out to the team at Steel Supplies Charters Towers.