Find out all things farm animal welfare, food and farming in Australia with our host Brian Daly. Brian Daly is a writer, producer, director who has been raising awareness of animal welfare issues for the past two decades.
Trailer - Have a sneak peek of RSPCA Australia's Humane Food Podcast
What is the most humane way to handle animals prior to slaughter? With Leisha Hewitt
Brian Daly interviews animal welfare researcher, consultant, and slaughter specialist Dr Leisha Hewitt.
Leisha’s passion for animal welfare started at young age and was born from the empathy for animals her mother taught her to have. When choosing a place of study as a young adult it became obvious that the options for studying animal welfare weren’t as clear cut as they are today. Having opted to study meat science, Leisha was led down the path of researching animal welfare during slaughter. Now, Leisha holds a PhD in Clinical Veterinary Science, is a well-respected animal welfare consultant, member of the OIE technical committee on the killing of farmed reptiles and qualified Lead Auditor and Animal Welfare Assessor. What started in the beginning as simply learning to care about animals, no doubt has evolved into a career that has shaped and improved the welfare of many animals globally.
In the last episode of season 1 of this podcast we found out more about the process of animal slaughter, and how effective stunning works in ensuring animals are slaughtered or killed in a humane manner. But the way animals are treated from the time they arrive at an abattoir through to being stunned pre slaughter can also greatly affect their welfare. The competencies and experience of stockpersons, as well as plant infrastructure, certification requirements and overarching legislation, all play a part in the humane handling of animals throughout the slaughter process.
Join us in this episode as we discuss with Leisha how animals are handled at abattoirs, and how this can be done humanely.
· What happens to animals in abattoirs from arrival through to pre slaughter stunning
· How stockpersons and operators can ensure that handling is done humanely
· What humane slaughter means
How are farm animals transported in Australia and what can be improved? With Sarah and Melina from the RSPCA
Brian Daly interviews RSPCA Australia’s Scientific Officer Dr Sarah Babington and Senior Scientific Officer (Farm Animals) Melina Tensen, to find out more about farm animal transportation in Australia.
Farm animals are transported within Australia every day to other properties, saleyards, feedlots, abattoirs and export ports. Some of these journeys may involve distances of thousands of kilometres over several days. Transport is stressful for farm animals and can cause suffering and deaths.
The RSPCA believes that animals should be transported in a way that avoids injury and minimises suffering or distress. Journey times should be as short as possible, and slaughter of food animals should occur as near to the farm as possible. Particular care is needed during transport of animals who are in poor condition because of drought, and transport of bobby calves. Bobby calves are often transported for slaughter at less than 5 days of age. They are particularly susceptible to stress and injury during transport because of their young age.
The RSPCA was one of two animal welfare organisations involved in the development of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines - Land Transport of Livestock. As a contributor to the transport standards, the RSPCA pressed for improvements in the transport process for farm animals, especially the way animals are handled, the conditions on board the vehicles, and the extent to which animals are provided with water and rest during the process.
All states and territories except for Western Australia have now incorporated the standards under legislation. The RSPCA would also like to see the standards incorporated into quality assurance programs by the livestock and transport industries.
Improving welfare for farm animals shouldn’t stop at the farm gate, the whole chain needs to be considered and transport is a key area for concern when it comes to animal welfare. Join us in this episode to find out more about the complexities of transportation in Australia, and what we can do in the future to improve outcomes for animals during transport.
· Why farm animals are transported in Australia and how this affects them
· What the animal transport legislation in Australia covers
· How animal welfare can be improved in transport
How are antibiotics used in animal agriculture and should we be concerned? With Lauren Mackenzie from Coles
Brian Daly interviews Lauren Mackenzie, Responsible Sourcing Manager for Agriculture at Coles.
Lauren’s interest in agriculture started from a young age when she reared her own cattle and became involved in all aspects of their care. Including their veterinary treatments, which gave her early exposure to how antibiotics are used in animal production. Fast forward to the present day and Lauren’s role at Coles covers a host of responsible sourcing initiatives, in which animal welfare plays a big role. Antibiotics are a necessary part of providing animals with a good quality of life, by means of treatment when they are sick. However, their use varies globally and some of the concerns Australian consumers have are related to whether antibiotics are in the products they eat, rather than how they are used in production.
Join us in this episode as we discuss with Lauren how antibiotics are used in Australia and what labelling terms such as ‘antibiotic free’ mean.
The reasons why antibiotics are used in animal productionHow antibiotics are used in Australian agriculture What labelling terms such as ‘antibiotic free’ mean Further links:
Why are male chicks culled in the egg industry and how can this be changed? With Mark Tizard from CSIRO
Brian Daly interviews Dr Mark Tizard, senior scientist and project leader at CSIRO.
Mark started his career in the early days of gene cloning as part of the team that was first to identify and produce a candidate vaccine for malaria. After this he went on to complete a PhD and postdoctoral project in microbiology and gene technology before coming to Australia to work at CSIRO. After many advancements in the emerging field of gene editing, and fast forward to the present day, Mark’s team have been able to identify a method to remove males from the egg laying industry without even having to hatch or cull day old chicks.
Join us in this episode as we unpack this gene editing technology with Mark and find out more about how this could be a very real solution to end male chick culling.
What happens with male chicks in the egg industry What is gene editing and is it different to genetic modification How can gene editing technology be used to stop the culling of male chicks What are the challenges in this technology becoming commercially available Further links:
What’s the problem with cage eggs and why are hens still in cages today? With Jed and Sarah from the RSPCA
Brian Daly interviews RSPCA Australia’s Farm Animal Scientific Officer Dr Sarah Babington and Senior Policy Officer Dr Jed Goodfellow.
In recent years there has been a decline in grocery sales of cage eggs, indicating that more Australian consumers are choosing cage-free eggs in the supermarket. But with overall egg consumption increasing, and eggs being used in various products, the total number of Australian hens confined to cages has not yet significantly dropped.
There are inherent animal welfare issues associated with the farming of hens in cages, and the RSPCA has been calling for an end to the battery cage in Australia for decades.
Many countries globally have now phased out the use of battery cages for egg production, with some investing in furnished cages. These cage systems are different to a battery cage, with more space, provision of nest boxes and may have additional enrichment. They also retain the benefits of battery cage systems in relation to hygiene and disease control.
However, while there are some provisions to allow greater behavioural expression, the hens’ full behavioural repertoire is not able to be expressed satisfactorily in furnished cages. Hens are also still confined for their entire lifetime, standing on wire floor and suffering health impacts like osteoporosis. Therefore, these cages do not offer a complete solution with regards to hen housing.
The RSPCA advocates for a transition to cage-free production systems that meet all the hens’ health and welfare needs while allowing them to exhibit important natural behaviours.
Many well-known brands in the Australian food industry are already using cage-free eggs or are transitioning to using cage-free eggs. Companies like these are proving every day that you can build a successful and profitable business based on good animal welfare; and that we can produce affordable, safe, healthy cage-free eggs on a large scale.
But the RSPCA knows that to see a drop in the number of hens confined to cages there must be a legislated phase out. Over 75% of OECD nations have already committed to transitioning their egg industries away from inhumane battery cages. Australia has yet to follow.
The national Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Poultry are currently under review for the first time in over a decade. The RSPCA has been involved in this process for the past five years, and understands that an independent panel has been appointed to supervise the draft of a new standard which will be presented to Agriculture Ministers later in 2020.
This is the time for state and territory governments to step up, acknowledge the science, respond to the community, and finally end this cruel and outdated farming practice.
In addition to calling on governments to phase out the battery cage, the RSPCA encourages Australians to support those producers doing the right thing by choosing cage-free eggs, both in the supermarket and when you’re eating out.
What are the animal welfare issues associated with cage egg production How cage egg production differs to cage free/barn and free range What companies are doing in Australia to get hens out of cages The latest update on where Australian legislation is at with poultry welfare Further links: