Remember Welfare When Handling Bobby Calves

AUSTRALIA - The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) is advising farmers, calf buyers and transporters to ensure the welfare of bobby calves as DPI Animal Health and Welfare staff will be assessing calves at local saleyards, calf depots, scales and abattoirs this season.
calendar icon 20 August 2010
clock icon 2 minute read

If calves are found to be weak and suffering as a result of non-compliance with the bobby calf provisions of the Code of Accepted Farming Practice for the Welfare of Cattle, penalties will be enforced.

DPI Animal Health Officer John Bodey said to avoid penalties under the regulations, farmers needed to follow the basic requirements of presenting calves for sale.

Bobby calves presented for sale must be:

  • at least four days old (on their fifth day of life);
  • have a dry withered navel cord;
  • been fed four litres of milk or colostrum daily (two litres night and morning) and fed within six hours prior to delivery to the point of sale or collection;
  • over 23 kilograms of live weight;
  • clean, warm and dry;
  • free of antibacterial residues;
  • tagged with an NLIS tag; and
  • strong enough to be transported for sale or slaughter.

"Bobby calf producers should note that calves can sometimes travel long distances to abattoirs and it is essential that calves are well prepared on farm and well managed after they leave the farm, if they are to arrive in good condition at their destination," Mr Bodey said.

"A system should be in place to record the date of birth and identity of each calf to ensure that calves are not sold until their fifth day of life.

"The code of practice states that during transportation, calves should have sufficient space to lie down and that the vehicle used to transport calves should have an enclosed front (for wind protection) and a non-slip floor.

"Calves showing any sign of weakness or illness, including scours, must not be sold. If the resources are not available to treat and retain these calves until they are fit to travel and free of any antibacterial residues, they should be slaughtered humanely on farm."

A bobby calf declaration has been developed with the assistance of all sectors of the bobby calf industry to assist producers record the animal welfare and residue status of bobby calves consigned for slaughter.

Bobby calves handlers should know that it is an offence under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act Regulation 11 for an electric prodder to be used or placed on a bobby calf. Stock handlers observed using an electric prodder on a bobby calf may be issued with an infringement notice.

For more information on bobby calf management, contact your local DPI Animal Health and Welfare staff. Copies of the Code of Accepted Farming Practice for the Welfare of Cattle are available from DPI offices.

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