THE release of the long-awaited Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines (AAWSG) for sheep and cattle has been delayed to the end of the year.
After a five-year development process, managed by Animal Health Australia, the standards and guidelines are now ready for consideration by governments.
This process involved consideration by the Animal Welfare Task Group, Agricultural Senior Officials Committee (AGSOC) and the Agriculture Minister's forum (AGMIN).
A spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture advised Fairfax Media the documents were expected to be considered before the end of 2015.
The AAWSG will provide a basis for developing and implementing consistent legislation and enforcement across Australia, and guidance for all people responsible for cattle and sheep.
It outlines the minimum standards to assist livestock owners to understand how to meet their obligations under State and Territory legislation, and promotes humane and considerate treatment of cattle and sheep and the use of good husbandry and management practices to improve livestock welfare in all types of farming enterprises.
The standards and guidelines also outline the skill requirements for livestock handlers and procedures to minimise the risk of pain, injury or disease, including pain relief for cattle during castration, disbudding and dehorning or tail docking, and the castration and mulesing of sheep.
The Department of Agriculture's spokeswoman said the standards and guidelines were based on current scientific knowledge, recommended industry practice and community expectations and were now ready to be delivered to governments for decision.
"The Australian government has worked with the State and Territory governments, industry, scientists, animal welfare organisations and the community to develop animal welfare standards and guidelines for sheep and cattle," she said.
Each State and Territory government is responsible for its own animal production and welfare legislation.
This legislation is enforced by the RSPCA inspectorate or by officers from the State or Territory department of primary industries (or equivalent authority) and include production animals, such as sheep and cattle.