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  • 07 Feb 2011 1:18 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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 its 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 http://www.hsi.org.au/index.php?catID=494) 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.”


  • 06 Feb 2011 11:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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 releasehttp://www.hsi.org.au/index.php?catID=494) 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 11:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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 11:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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 12:06 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    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.


  • 02 Sep 2010 1:23 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In the wake of the largest egg recall in United States history and consensus of animal rights groups worldwide, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has issued an official statement to Humane Society International (HSI) condemning the egg industry’s cruel treatment of hens and urging consumers to switch to cage-free eggs:

    “The abuse we inflict on hens has always been particularly disturbing to me, and I have always been particularly concerned toward how these animals are treated in industrial food production.  I was troubled to learn from my friends at the Humane Society about the practice of confining egg-laying hens in tiny cages.”

    Several countries have already banned battery hen cages, including Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria and Norway, with remaining European Union nations in the process phasing cages out as a total ban on the farming practice by 2012 looms.

    “In these cages, birds cannot engage in their natural behaviours such as spreading their wings, laying eggs in a nesting area, perching, scratching at the ground, and even standing on a solid surface.  Each hen has less space to live in than the very sheet of paper I have written this letter on.  Turning these defenceless animals into egg-producing machines with no consideration for their welfare whatsoever is a degradation of our own humanity.  Switching to cage free eggs would reduce the suffering of these animals.  Tibetans have a rich history of protecting the most vulnerable in society and opposing cruelty, which is why it is natural for me to encourage the change to cage free eggs.  Following in this tradition, I hope compassion and kindness will prevail in this very serious matter.” the Dalai Lama continued.

    HSI director Verna Simpson said, “The fact that the Dalai Lama, an internationally respected spiritual leader and ethicist, has spoken out against the production of cage eggs speaks volumes about the severity of the situation.  Humane Society International has long supported natural living conditions for all farm animals, and consumer trends show that animal welfare has become a decisive factor influencing the food we eat.”


  • 25 Aug 2010 1:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Australian Egg Corporation Ltd (AECL), Australia’s leading egg industry producer owned company, has reported on the recent egg recall across the U.S. due to Salmonella enteritidis contamination from an intensive egg production farm in Iowa. The U.S. outbreak has now reported nearly 2000 cases of human infection, with the recall occurring across up to 14 states and recalling up to 380 million eggs. 

    Whilst the AECL recognised concern for the outbreak, as S. enteritidis bacteria transferred from hens develops within eggs and has the potential to affect humans through egg consumption, what was not addressed by them was the potential for a similar outbreak to occur in Australia.

    Reason for concern should not be isolated to the U.S.  Earlier this month Humane Society International’s U.S. partners, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), released a white paper addressing the threat that cage confinement of laying hens can pose to food safety.  The paper revealed that there were 43% lower odds of S. enteritidis contamination in cage-free barns, where hens are raised indoors, than in cage production.

    S. enteritidis is present on the Federal Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry’s (DAFF) most recent National Notifiable Animal Diseases List, and has been recognized by the Queensland Department of Primary Industry and Fisheries as …a notifiable disease of poultry with public health significance.  It has been specifically noted by the Department of Health as a serious concern for primary industry due to risks of infections in egg-laying poultry.  In 2004, there was a reported S. enteritidis outbreak in Queensland. 

    Regular monitoring of S. enteritidis by OzFoodNet, a State and Territory collaborative initiative run by the Department of Health and Ageing, reported that in 2008 all states and territories (except the ACT) reported locally acquired cases, of which 16% (81/511) of all  reported S. Enteritidis infections were locally-acquired, which was higher than previous years.  The years between 2003 and 2007 reported an average of 44 locally-acquired cases per year. 

    With previous cases being reported in Australia, and new reports to prove that intensive farming increases the chance of Salmonella outbreaks, there is reason for concern.

    To add, with the Heart Foundation very recently increasing the weekly recommended intake of eggs, there is even more cause for concern for future intensive egg production in Australia and the health risks it will have.

    “To continue to intensively produce eggs when we are fully aware of the risks would be irresponsible.  Stricter standards must be put in place to prevent potential outbreaks amongst both poultry and human populations.” said HSI director, Verna Simpson. “At the very least, method of production labeling for eggs should be mandatory, so consumers can assess the health risks themselves.”

    Phil Westwood, spokesman for the Free Range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia Inc.

    (FREPAA), highlights that "True free range egg production provides a healthy and sustainable farm environment, which together with good flock management and handling procedures ensures food safety for consumers”.


  • 20 Aug 2010 1:27 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A multi-state recall for eggs across the U.S. has just been voluntarily announced by egg producing giant, Wright County Egg Farm.  Their official media release stated that “There have been confirmed Salmonella enteritidis illnesses relating to the shell eggs and trace back investigations are ongoing”.   

    The company holds more than 7.5 million egg laying hens.  The number of hens affected has not been officially reported.  However, over 1000 cases of intestinal illness have been reported; the official egg recall extends over 19 brands; and the actual number of eggs being recalled is reported to be in the millions and increasing. 

    Salmonella enteritidis is a bacterium pathogenic to humans.  Animal Health Australia notes that it is an egg-transmitted disease of poultry that also has human health implications through the consumption of contaminated eggs. 

    Phil Westwood, spokesman for the Free Range Egg and Poultry Association of Australia Inc (FREPAA), commented that “The egg recall in the United States demonstrates the potential health problems associated with intensive farming. High flock densities generate major contamination issues for chickens and these can be transferred to humans in the food chain.”

    Earlier this month Humane Society International’s U.S. partners, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), released a white paper addressing the threat that cage confinement of laying hens can pose to food safety.  It included an assessment on the probabilities of Salmonella contamination among different housing systems.  The paper revealed that there were 43% lower odds of Salmonella enteritidis contamination in cage-free barns, where hens are raised indoors, than in cage production.

    It also reported that every single scientific study published in recent years comparing Salmonella contamination between cage and cage-free operations has found that confining hens in cages significantly increases Salmonella risk –

     

    2010: 7.77 times greater odds of Salmonella in operations caging hens

    2009: Significantly more risk of Salmonella in caged flocks

    2008: 7.88 to 21.52 times greater odds of Salmonella in operations caging hens

    2008: More than twice the prevalence of Salmonella in operations caging hens

    2007: 1.8 to 25 times greater odds of Salmonella in operations caging hens

    2007: 3.7 times greater prevalence of Salmonella in operations caging hens

    2006: More than twice the prevalence of Salmonella in operations caging hens

     

    Reason for concern should not be isolated to the U.S.  In 2004, there was a reported Salmonella enteritidis outbreak in Queensland. It has been specifically noted by the Department of Health as a serious concern for primary industry due to risks of infections in egg-laying poultry.

    “It is unfortunate that we have to wait for such significant epidemics until it is recognised that there are real health risks associated with intensive farming.  Not only are such epidemics detrimental to hundreds of birds who live in unacceptable conditions, but impacts are directly affecting human populations.” said HSI director, Verna Simpson.  “It is widely acknowledged that cage confinement of laying hens is inhumane.  The fact that such major health risks are associated shows this method of production has to end. Intensive farming needs to be recognised as a significant risk to human health.” 

    True free range egg production is an alternative method of production which is becoming more and more popular in Australia for consumers.  Not only because it means better animal welfare standards for poultry, but also because it provides a healthier environment for egg production and therefore poses less of a risk to humans. 

    Phil Westwood, FREPAA, highlights that "True free range egg production provides a healthy and sustainable farm environment, which together with good flock management and handling procedures ensures food safety for consumers”.


  • 04 Aug 2010 12:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As free range becomes a much more familiar word in the consumer's vocabulary it is becoming harder to to work out just what is and isn't genuine free range.  With the lack of a legal definition that leads to misleading labelling, we wanted to make sure there was no mistake about products carrying the Humane Choice logo.

    Our standards are clear and precise and available to all.  Our audits are carried out by an independent, registered audit provider.  You can be sure its true free range when you see our logo.


  • 24 Apr 2010 12:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Over the past 2 years HSI has been corresponding with David Jones over the misrepresentation of pork products sold through their flagship Sydney store.  David Jones is continuing to brand pork as ‘free range’ knowing full well that they are misrepresenting production method.

    Although we have repeatedly approached David Jones and sought intervention by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for false and misleading representation of products, they continue to deceive consumers.  David Jones is taking advantage of the growing number of consumers who are seeking welfare friendly food and are prepared to pay extra.  They have obviously identified that consumers are looking for free range product, but rather than finding the real McCoy, they are just mislabelling existing non free range product and charging the extra.

    In a surprising response to media enquiries about the mislabelling of  it’s ‘free range’ pork in their flagship Sydney store, David Jones has responded with the following:

    "As there is no law or standard governing the use of the terms "free range" or "bred free range", David Jones is fully compliant with its legal obligations.   This is a matter for the regulators."
    Best wishes, 
    (name withheld)
    General Manager - Public Relations
    David Jones

    This is certainly an eye opener for their customers!  David Jones acknowledges that as there is no law governing terms used for meat production they can and will continue to deceive. And they are certainly not shy at charging premium prices with pork costing up to twice as much as the local supermarket.

    “Consumers want and have the right to make informed decisions about the animal-derived food products that they are purchasing,” said HSI Director, Verna Simpson. “However, instead they are met with a suite of confusing, poorly defined and unregulated terms which producers and retailers are able to use and misuse at will.

    A labelling overhaul is overdue. HSI is calling for a national and mandatory labelling scheme for the method of production of all meat, eggs and dairy products, that only permits the use of a limited number of legally defined and regulated animal-welfare descriptors.

    The Australia and New Zealand Food Regulation Ministerial Council, comprising Ministers responsible for food and health issues are currently reviewing food labelling laws and policy.  They have already had over 6000 written submissions and a series of public consultations, and the message is loud and clear.  The Australian public has the right and the desire to know what they are buying.  They are intelligent enough to decide their own ethics and make purchasing decisions on that basis.

    Without Truth in Labelling it is not possible to make these informed purchasing decisions and it is time for Government and industry to catch up. 

    Contact: Verna Simpson, HSI Director, 02 9973 1728


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