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176FW: bobby calves-deny food for 30 hours

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  • Stephanie Abbott
    Jan 26, 2011
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      FW: bobby calves-deny food for 30 hours Apologies for jumping straight in with all this. It is a reply to a thread on the Animal Law Committee’s email list about the bobby calves/30 hours issue. The discussion  has centred around the basis for the proposed change and the fact that supposedly, the transport of calves in large amounts of their own effluent is the welfare basis for this.
      Anyway, thought some of this might be useful to those who have time prior to the meeting and if its not too silly, can perhaps form the skeleton for some submission points.
      Important to look first at:
      http://www.animalwelfarestandards.net.au/australian-animal-welfare-standards-and-guidelines/land-transport/bobby-calf-time-off-feed-standard.cfm

      Now my screed:
      “First of all, I think it may be fair to say that for some of those concerned about this amendment, such as myself, there is a complex interaction between the specific issue in question and the overall problem of sentient bobby calves being treated as waste products on an industry-wide basis.  Raising awareness of this issue overall as part of the process in the specific case is, I think, quite legitimate, but that’s just my opinion. For submission writing, of course, it’s important to separate the two and deal with each.

      Regarding the evidence base for the proposed change:
      I think I have found a  summary of the relevant study that appears to underpin the amendment.
      http://www.animalwelfarestandards.net.au/shadomx/apps/fms/fmsdownload.cfm?file_uuid=0768923D-5056-8A5D-8761-C8DD4090ED25&siteName=aahc
      I can’t claim to be in a position to assess the scientific merit of the study, but I do notice a couple of things about it:
      1. the assessment was of the interaction of deprivation of nourishment and transport. Obviously this is the combination in question for the amendments. However, the focus of the study appeared to be whether the 30 hours cause any additional stress on top of transport, not whether it was in itself a stressful practice or any associated welfare effects. To me, I would think that the nutrition issue would need to be looked at by itself as well as in combination with the transport issue for a valid welfare conclusion to be drawn.
      2. the conclusion was not that there were no effects but that there were no significant effects. Some effects, most notably for blood glucose, were noted and were also attributed to the deprivation of nutrition for 30 hours.  Whether the effects were significant or not was determined in part by reference to existing minimum standards which may themselves be       open to question from a welfare perspective.
      3. And, of course, whether or not scientists are involved, “significant” is a value judgment that requires an overall assessment to be made in the context of all the facts which, in this case, include the economic interests of the dairy industry and proceed from the standpoint that it’s necessary to transport bobby calves to abbatoirs in the first place, which brings us back to the bigger issue. In POCTAA, for example, s 8(1) creates a duty to provide animals with adequate food, water and shelter and s 8(2) introduces a test for breach of this which states that evidence that animals did not have access to clean water during a 24 hour period. An exemption exisists in the regs for stock animals in drought conditions that extends the period to 72 hours. The point here is, though, in normal non-commercial circumstances not predicated on a “need” to transport animals, more than 24 hours without water or food is considered cruel, even for calves.
      Meanwhile, I understand that calves being transported in large quantities of their own effluent, which certainly happens all the time now, is a welfare issue for them. I don’t have much sympathy for the complaints about smell going through towns from humans but really bad conditions on a truck with high levels of ammonia can cause respiratory problems, eye damage etc to the animals exposed. I do, however, note that we don’t have any information about how the Standards Committee arrived at the point that effluent etc is a welfare problem greater than dehydration and I can’t help wondering whether it is to do with the fact that one is a problem for humans and calves but the other is just a problem for calves.”
       
      Cheers,
      Steph