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  • 11 Jan 2012 5:53 PM | Anonymous
    Free range eggs to end civilization as we know it??      

    In what can only be described as in a haze of hysteria, Australian Egg Corporation has printed an article in their latest Newsletter prophesying the 'end of civilization as we know it' should we spurn their propaganda on the labelling of free range eggs.

    Humane Choice brings a reasoned response to the article.

    High Politics and Low Blows - A Rebuttal
    Australian Egg Corp Progegganda

    Lee McCosker gives a Humane Choice perspective on the Australian Egg Corp article entitled 'High Politics and Low Blows in NSW' by Kai Ianssen.  Read the article here ....
  • 02 Aug 2011 1:02 AM | Anonymous

    The argument for a national

    definition for 'free range' eggs


    There is now a broad agreement in the egg industry that clear, legal definitions need to be established for different methods of production.


    A national definition for free range egg production is firmly on the agenda and submissions are being made to the Federal Government to implement a standard.


    The Free Range Farmers Association in Victoria and the national industry body, Free Range Egg and Poultry Association have been pushing for many years that a national definition should be established for free range production systems which meets consumer expectations.


    These arguments have been boosted by the Australian Egg Corporation's managing director, James Kellaway, who has said: “We have definitions that are enforced by the industry but we want to make such definitions more robust and definitive … what we'd like to see is a definition that is clearly enunciated and enforced”


    The Free Range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia Inc. welcomes that announcement and has again written to the Minister for Agriculture, Senator Joe Ludwig, re-opening the debate for the development of a clear definition for free range egg production.


    The Association has argued that the starting point should be the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Domestic Poultry. The definition should require a maximum outdoor stocking density of 1500 hens per hectare and prohibit the beak trimming or de-beaking of birds.


    Currently, many producers who label their eggs as 'free range' run stocking densities well above the 1500 bird limit. AECL has revealed that some farms run as many as 40,000 chickens per hectare.


    The Model Code requires producers to find alternative measures to combat feather pecking and cannibalism before resorting to beak trimming – but most farms (even those which claim to be free range) make no attempt to find alternatives. Their birds are beaked trimmed at day old or soon after.


    The Australian Egg Corporation is currently trying to implement a new standard for a version of free range production that will allow a stocking density of up to 20,000 birds per hectare and will allow beak trimming as a matter of course.


    Industry practice has shown that beak trimming is totally unnecessary for hens on a free range farm – unless the farm is over stocked.



    More details

    Phil Westwood


    Free Range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia Inc


  • 21 Jun 2011 10:57 PM | Anonymous

    Westpork case for animal cruelty goes to court today.

    Wednesday, 22 June 2011

    The charges against Westpork Pty Ltd’s piggery in Gingin, Western Australia, will be heard in court today.

    The Westpork piggery has been charged with animal cruelty offences resulting from a breach of the Animal Welfare Act 2002,  Mr. Ferguson is the general manager of Westpork and an Australian Pork Limited (APL) director.

    The Western Australian Department of Local Government has confirmed that more than thirty charges under the Animal Welfare Act 2002 have been placed against the Westpork piggery, which has been under investigation by the courts since January 2009.  Further charges have been laid after a secondary investigation was conducted.  The proponents have been specifically charged relating to animals suffering harm under the charge of a person(s) which could be alleviated by taking of reasonable steps (Sections 19(1) and 19(3)(h) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002).

    As general manager for Westpork, Mr. Ferguson holds a highly accountable role in the current charges against the piggery,” states HSI director, Verna Simpson. “It is wholly inappropriate for a person who has been charged with an animal cruelty offence to continue to be a representative on the board of the industry bodyHSI has asked the APL that Mr. Ferguson be removed from his position and hopes that today’s charges will influence this.

    The charges laid against Westpork are now the second time Mr. Ferguson has been involved in breaches against animal welfare legislation within two years,” Simpson explains. “Now, with even more charges to be laid against Westpork and Neil Ferguson, HSI is keen to see justice served”.

    Contact: Verna Simpson, Director, PH: (02) 9973 1728


  • 06 Jun 2011 6:16 PM | Anonymous



    University of Queensland Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics


    Humane Society International


    Roz Dixon Memorial Scholarship

    for Farm Animal Welfare Research


    The scholarship will be provided for research that addresses issues in intensive farming that would have the potential to eliminate practices that impact on an animal’s ability to express natural behaviours such as:

    ·         nurturing their young,

    ·         interacting with their herd or flock,

    ·         freedom for movement and exercise,

    ·         minimizing stress in their environment and handling,

    ·         alternatives to surgical procedures.


    For further information tel. +61 7 5460 1158; mobile 0406340133 or email

    Applications for the 2011 Scholarships close on Tuesday 30th August 2011.

  • 13 Feb 2011 10:37 PM | Anonymous

    Micro pigs, mini pigs…..  it’s a very disturbing trend that has almost turned pigs into a fashion accessory.  Paris Hilton started this current porcine craze when she purchased her mini pig, Miss Piglette.

    A micro pig, or tea cup pig as they are called overseas, is a very different animal to the mini pigs available in Australia.  Micro pigs are bred from an array of smaller breeds including the Kune Kune and the Potbelly pig, breeds that are just not available in this country.

    So how do we breed mini pigs in Australia?  Our genetics are very limited and those that we do have are for the larger breeds of pigs – Landrace, Large White, Large Black, Duroc and a couple of others.  These are very large animals weighing in at between 200 and 300 kilos at maturity.  There is one type of pig here that is relatively small at that is the feral pig.

    Unfortunately there is no such thing as a true mini pig in Australia. These tiny oinkers are bred from the runts of litters and then malnourished to prevent them from reaching their full growth potential.

    The rigid diet set out by the breeders of these mini pigs is severely lacking in nutrition and is basically designed for maintenance of body condition with nothing left over for growth.  The only way to keep a mini pig mini is to stunt its growth.  You have to virtually starve it otherwise it will grow into quite a large animal.  Even the must-have micro pigs sold overseas are subjected to this kind of dietary madness.

    But the cruelty to these tiny creatures doesn’t end there.  Breeders sell them complete with nose rings to prevent them digging up their new owner’s lawns.  Rooting is the most basic of instincts for the pig and these so called pig lovers will prevent them from doing so by inflicting pain each time they attempt to dig.

    Some mini pigs end up at the vet and their owners are very surprised to hear that their pet is suffering from malnutrition and needs immediate intervention to save it.  Some owners can’t resist feeding their mini pigs forbidden treats and before they know it they have a 120 kg pig on their hands and seeking to re-home it. Most owners have no knowledge of pig behaviour or needs and unintentionally cause these animals great suffering. Unwanted pig pets could possibly increase the feral pig populations should they be dumped in bushland by their disappointed owners.

    For such a large animal, it is incredible how small the pig starts out in life only weighing a couple of kilos.  This is a fact that is being taken advantage of when ‘mini’ pig breeders post photo’s of their tiny merchandise on the web.  Pigs are always born small but have an amazing potential for very fast growth.

    There is no such thing as a true mini pig.

  • 07 Feb 2011 6:40 PM | Anonymous

    Farm fined for false egg labelling


    Tuesday, 08/02/2011


    A Western Australia egg farmer has become the first farmer in Australia to be financially penalised for misleading consumers.


    It's the first such penalty under the new Australian consumer laws, which allow the ACCC to seek monetary penalties for misconduct.


    The Pisano family of WA has been ordered to pay $50,000 by the Federal Court for labelling its eggs as free range, when they were not.


    The judge involved said the case warranted a heavy penalty and said it was a 'blatant case of dishonesty'.


    Chairman Graham Samuel says the ACCC's new powers make it easier to take action against businesses misleading consumers.


    "The ACCC now has the power to obtain financial penalties up wards of well over a million dollars if necessary," he said.


    "The Federal Court is showing its determination to penalise this sort of conduct because I think it realises financial penalties are the only way to stamp it out.

  • 06 Feb 2011 3:56 PM | Anonymous

    The Department of Local Government in Western Australia today confirmed that thirty charges under the Animal Welfare Act 2002 have been laid in relation to the Westpork piggery in Gingin, stemming from an investigation commencing in January 2009. The thirty charges involve Westpork Pty Ltd and two of it's staff members.

    The charges relate to Sections 19(1) and 19(3)(h) of the Animal Welfare Act 2002, which the Department administers and enforces. The State Solicitor’s Office is handling the case on behalf of the Department. A first mention has been listed for Wednesday, 16 March 2011 at the Perth Magistrates Court.

    This is not the first time Westpork has faced animal cruelty charges. They were previously charged in 2009 (HSI media release for animal cruelty but the Department discontinued the case on a technicality.

    Westpork is operated by Neil Ferguson, a board member of Australian Pork Limited, chair on the WA Agriculture Produce Commission (Pork Committee), and a Pork Training WA Committee member.

    HSI has today written to the boards requesting that Mr. Ferguson stand aside from these positions until the case has been heard. When the previous case was being investigated we made the same request of both Boards, but they declined. Given the new charges are unrelated to the original case it would be prudent of both Boards to stand him down till the case concludes.

    “The fact that any person charged with animal cruelty offences can remain in such a prominent position within the industry is inconceivable,” says Verna Simpson, HSI Director. “What makes the situation so shocking is that this is now the second time Mr. Ferguson has been charged. Such irresponsible behaviour should not be permitted to represent and guide industry best practice.”

    HSI Director, Verna Simpson further stated, “Considering past and current charges, HSI believes Mr. Ferguson should stand aside till the case concludes. The Australian pork industry has been at the centre of the national animal welfare debate thanks to consumer and retailer demand for welfare friendly pork. With such scrutiny on the industry this is no time to play the ‘mates’ card as this will only hurt the many other producers who are trying hard to meet consumer expectations.”
  • 01 Feb 2011 4:26 PM | Anonymous

    1st February 2011

    Bobby Calf TOF RIS Submissions
    Animal Health Australia
    Suite 15 26-28 Napier Close
    DEAKIN ACT 2600

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    This submission is presented by Lee McCosker on behalf of Humane Choice.  Humane Choice is an accreditation body for free range animal production systems.

    We wish to address the amendments to the Land Transport of Livestock Standard – Bobby Calves Time Off Feed.

    We understand that the Primary Industries Ministerial Council (PIMC) resolved to develop a science based standard for the management of bobby calves to be included in the above transport standard.

    The first area of concern that we would like to discuss is the accuracy and the credibility of the science used to base a recommendation of 30 hours time off feed be adopted.  The Fisher Report, upon which this recommendation is based, appears to be flawed and somewhat biased.

    I shall address our concerns in point form:

    • ·         The report is yet unpublished and therefore has not been peer reviewed.
    • ·         The study was undertaken at just one location.
    • ·         The study only represented a minute portion of the industry. (only 60 calves were used in the entire study)
    • ·         The study did not accurately reflect the diverse range of conditions calves are farmed under.
    • ·         The study did not take into consideration the varying levels of health that the average very vulnerable bobby calf may experience.
    • ·         The study did not take into consideration varying climatic conditions as it was carried out around Spring.
    • ·         The study is quoted as saying that a ‘normal’ feeding ration of milk is 5 litres when this is generally not the norm at all. Industry recommends each heifer replacement calf should drink 4L of milk (or 500g of milk solids) per day, which is equal to about 10.12% of its birth weight.[1]Replacement heifers are far more valuable to the producer so one can only assume that the milk fed to an unwanted bobby calf may be significantly less.

    To summarize our concerns about the Fisher Study;

    We believe that the study is inadequate and not appropriate to base any recommendations on in regard to allowable times off feed for bobby calves.  The study must be published and peer reviewed before it can be used to make such an important decision.  One study on its own does not give credible insight into the subject nor do we feel that this study has  allowed an unbiased outcome.

    This study surmises that 100% of calves will be in a ‘healthy’ condition and that they will be fed 5 litres of milk per day.  How different would the outcome of this study have been if the calves were fed 4 litres per day instead as prescribed by Dairy Australia?  I quote this section from the Fisher Report:

    In terms of energy status, plasma glucose concentrations were the most altered variable. These increased after feeding, declined slowly for some hours, and then declined more steadily after about 18 h off feed, which is consistent with the expected pattern of a typical daily feeding cycle. Mean glucose at 30 h was close to, but not below published reference values for dairy calves less that 2 weeks of age. A proportion of calves (~12%) were below the lower reference value at this time point, and this proportion was slightly greater than would be assumed by chance. [2]

    The results would have been very different if the calves had been fed the ‘normal’ amount of 4 litres instead of 5 and it would appear that their plasma glucose concentrations would have declined rapidly after about 18 hours off feed.  Even in the unbalanced Fisher Report, a percentage of calves fed the 5 litres of milk were below the lower reference value at this time point.

    We therefore refute the claim being made that ‘there is no science-based evidence of improvements to bobby calf welfare under 24 hours and 18 hours TOF as compared to 30 hours’ and that it is inappropriate  that the research be used to set an outer legal limit for time off feed for bobby calves at 30 hours.

    Option D

    We believe that the available science already points to 18 hours off feed as being the most appropriate option for bobby calves.

    It is my own personal  experience (after many years of buying bobby calves and rearing them) that it is normal practice, when calves are sold at saleyards, for the farmer to deliver them after milking on the morning of the sale.  The calves are usually fed before they leave.  It is common practice for calf sales to be held at midday and they are then permitted to be removed from the yards as they are sold to expedite their transport to the abattoir if they have not been purchased to raise as beef.   The Draft Consultation documentations confirms that this is a widely accepted practice. (page 25 )  This does in fact allow the calves to be processed well within the 18 hours time off feed.

    Another practice on larger dairy farms is to deliver their calves directly to the abattoir either the night before processing or on the morning of.  Again, well within the 18 hours time off feed.

    Another common practice, but not mentioned, is the sale of calves directly to other farms for the purpose of being grown on for veal or beef.  This practice keeps the time off feed well below 18 hours.

    Because of my personal experience in the bobby calf industry, I am concerned that some of the information presented in the draft documentations is a little misleading.  For example, there are many calf sales held in dairying regions, especially in coastal areas, and bobby calves are sought after by both processors and producers wishing to grow them on to heavier veal or beef.  There are also several domestic abattoirs that process calves on the same, or the morning after livestock sales.

    Expected economic costs (Criterion II) seem to be somewhat exaggerated and definitely biased towards Option B to merely allow the continuation of existing industry practice.

     A shift in the market structure will probably occur if Option D were to be adopted and producers could well look at other viable options rather than just claiming that thousands of calves will ‘become unavailable’.  For example, farm gate sales of bobby calves direct to producers enabling the dairy farmer to increase the income he gets from calves and reducing other costs such as transport and agent’s  fees and even cutting the cost for the dairy beef grower.

    Male calves are part and parcel of the dairy industry and a responsibility that cannot just be shirked simply based on cost.  No farmer goes into a dairy operation with his eyes shut and the welfare of his animals should be part of his management strategy.  The  ‘emotional cost’ of disposing of bobby calves cannot just be measured in dollars and cents to the farmer, today’s concerned consumer will want to see the needs of the animals addressed also and we cannot ignore this fact.

    We support Option D  - a standard amendment of 18 hours time off feed for bobby calves.

    Yours sincerely,



    Lee McCosker

    [1] Dairy Australia – Dairy Welfare, Calf Management, Rearing Dairy Heifer Calves

    [2] Dairy Australia -  Determining a suitable time off feed for bobby calf transport under Australian conditions

  • 08 Nov 2010 6:54 PM | Anonymous

    Author: Dick Ziggers

    If we look at the world from a medicated feed perspective then two blocks stand out: the European Union and the United States of America. In the EU the use of antibiotics for growth promoting reasons is already banned since January 2006. And now there is also a call for withdrawal of therapeutic use of drugs in animal feeds.

    The Dutch organisation for the animal feed industry (Nevedi), for example, would like to stop the use of therapeutic antibiotics in feed as soon as possible, in cooperation with livestock producers and veterinarians. The idea behind this is that Nevedi hopes to contribute in finding a solution to the problem of antibiotic resistance in both humans and animals.
    Next to that, the manufacturing of medicated feeds is a burden to the feed millers, because of chances of cross contamination. Current detection methods can trace the tiniest particle in feeds and in animal products.
    Different approach
    How different is the approach in the US, where just this week the Food and Drug Administration approved florfenicol for use in a so-called ‘Type B Medicated Feed’ for swine. It already had its Type A Medicated Feed approval, meaning it may be mixed in licensed feed mills.
    The Type B qualification means it now can be used as a premix in all feed mills, including those found on-farm. This might provide ground for a situation of over-use, since the product is considered to be effective to many respiratory diseases in pigs. “Now, producers can control swine respiratory disease with an easy-to-use formulation,” the manufacturer of the drug states.
    I am not questioning the effectiveness of the drug – this A, B, and C typing is applicable to all drugs used in medicated feeds – but more the relative ease with which the drug can be administered. Not to forget that also pigs that are not sick will get the drug in their feed without factual needing it.
    Trade issues
    These different approaches to antibiotic use also create trade barriers. "We do not have the access to the EU that we could and [antibiotic use] I think is at least one of the issues that is keeping our exports to the EU down," said a spokesman for the US National Pork Producers Council.
    Minimizing antibiotics could protect public health (fewer antibiotic resistant bugs) while helping better position US producers in the global marketplace. In Europe animal production is changing towards better management and fewer antibiotics.
    I am afraid that if producers in the US shut their eyes for these developments they might go the same way as the US auto industry.
    Curious to hear other opinions.  Original Article here ..
  • 21 Oct 2010 10:01 PM | Anonymous

    Humane Choice certified producers allow their animals to graze on open paddocks.  This includes pigs and poultry.

    Consumer concerns for animal welfare, as well as their own health and welfare, have driven the meat and egg industries into this current scramble for the right to use the term ‘free range’.  Consumer research has shown that free range to most people means that the animals spend their lives on pastures.

    With big industry calling for free range standards that fit in with their commercial reality, we will begin to witness the intensification of free range production systems.  How do you intensify free range?  By using small areas of land that are denuded very quickly by large numbers of grazing animals transforming the area into dirt lots with not one blade of grass to be seen.  While we would like to assume the pigs will be happier in these conditions as opposed to being kept indoors in stalls and pens, intensified free range raises concerns about animal health and environmental sustainability.  It also makes any claims of a better flavoured meat questionable as the animals are unable to forage or graze.

    Pasture raised animals are able to obtain a lot of their nutrition from grazing.  Just how much will depend of the type of pastured provided.   Farm animal dietary needs will also differ.  While sheep and cattle may gain all their needs from pasture, pigs and poultry are omnivores (single stomach just like us) and grubs, worms, small animals and insects form a natural part of their diet. Vitamins, minerals, trace elements and amino acids can be obtained by all grazing animals from a diet that includes pasture.

    Green forage and pasture is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, along with the insects and grubs that may be consumed, therefore the meat and eggs from pasture raised animals may provide Omega-3 in your diet.

    Pigs and chickens on pasture also benefit from spending their days in the sunshine!  Being able to exercise naturally and extensively means that, pigs in particular, will develop muscle without the need for hormones and growth promoters.

    Disease is minimal in well managed pastured raised systems so this means there is little need for the use of antibiotics.  Overuse of these drugs in the intensive farming industry is a major human health concern.

    Finally, but most importantly, well managed,  pasture raised animals live a happier life without the stress that is induced by overcrowding and the inability to carry out natural behaviours.  Combined with a more natural diet and environment, this translates to a superior quality product.

    So if you imagine pigs and poultry roaming in grassed paddocks when you picture free range, think pasture raised and seek out a Humane Choice true free range producer or supplier.

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