Farm business as usual

DERWENT Valley-based veterinarian Liam Ockenby believes changes to the Animal Welfare Act will not have a major effect on farmers.

“We see very few cases of potential animal welfare breaches on farms,” Dr Ockenby said.

“The farmers we work with are proactive and often have already undertaken actions to prevent further illness or injury by the time we get there, whether it be to the individual animal or the herd.

“Of those few that we do see, the farmers just want us to work with them, we are a member of their team that they can utilise for better herd and flock health.”

Dr Ockenby said anyone concerned about the Welfare Act, the changes or the condition of their livestock should reach out to for more information.

“We certainly don’t think the new legislation is bad, but ideally we’d be called in to work with farmers prior to any welfare questions being raised,” Dr Ockenby said.

“We can do certain diagnostics tests in-house now, meaning we can provide information to the farmers on the same day without even stepping foot on their farm.

“We always urge people to err on the side of caution and contact us early if they’re unsure about things as occasionally a disease process can be too developed by the time we arrive.

“If there’s uncertainty, farmers can contact us or other vet clinics.”

Recent amendments made to the Animal Welfare Act have raised some concerns in the farm sector.

Chiefly under the amendment that was tabled in Parliament last week, the use of pronged collars will be banned and authorised officers will have greater power to enter properties and seize animals.

Other proposals include greater sentencing options for animal cruelty and aggravated cruelty and reversing the onus of proof, so an animal is assumed to belong to the person listed as the owner in a welfare complaint.

It is important these changes are understood by farmers and graziers in Tasmania, who oversee animals on a scale far greater than in any other industry.

Firstly, the use of pronged collars to be considered as cruelty to animals, meaning their use will be deemed an offence and owners will be subject to relevant punishments.

Secondly, two major amendments will give more power to animal welfare officers.

Under Section 16, the amendment states says an officer may, without warrant, enter, search and inspect any premises, other than premises or a part of premises being used as a dwelling, if they believe an offence has been, or is being, committed or that an animal is suffering or in need of assistance.

Also, an officer may take possession of an animal if satisfied that an offence has been, or is being, committed or the animal requires medical treatment by a veterinary surgeon.

Though these rules were both previously in place, the changes made will allow welfare officers greater power to enter a property if they believe there are animals in unsafe condition