Farmer amongst cows

Animal welfare

The industry's commitment to care for our livestock runs much deeper than just looking after our own livelihood.

Without healthy and well cared for dairy animals we simply can't produce high-quality milk, yoghurt and cheese.

The dairy industry also recognises the importance of community acceptance of the way the industry farms to continue operating.

The 2030 goal we have set for ourselves around animal welfare is as follows:

Below are some examples of how the industry is working towards ensuring the highest quality animal care practices: 

Health — Investing in research and development programs that address the prevention, identification and treatment of diseases and illnesses, as well as management of sick or injured cows.

Welfare — Ensuring there are effective processes and projects in place to identify, prioritise and respond to animal welfare issues at an industry-wide level.

Practices — Providing farmers with high quality information to allow them to understand and adopt recommended animal management practices and to speak confidently about these practices (e.g. Cool Cows program).

Quality — Encouraging dairy farmers to take part in farm milk quality programs that also promote good animal welfare outcomes (e.g. Countdown 2020, Milk Quality Awards).

Standards — Building trust and confidence in the dairy industry’s animal practices and welfare outcomes among government, investors, the community and consumers by demonstrating compliance with all relevant Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines.


On the dairy farms

Australia’s animal welfare system aims to ensure all animals receive an acceptable level of care and treatment including a suitable environment, husbandry, nutrition, water, prevention from disease, veterinary care and protection from extreme conditions.

The Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle have been developed to safeguard the welfare of cattle on farms across Australia. The Standards have been developed by the Australian and State governments in consultation with Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF), Dairy Australia, other livestock organisations and animal welfare groups. The dairy industry works with farmers to help ensure these standards are met and supports appropriate actions taken by state authorities who regulate the standards.


What else are we doing

As part of our commitment to improving the lives of dairy cows, here are some of the key activities we have been engaging in and will continue in the future:

  • Researching ways to continually improve the welfare of dairy animals, including better understanding diseases, improved calf rearing practices, and investing in pathways for dairy beef.
  • Delivering workshops and courses to farmers on improving health and preventing diseases in dairy animals, as well as continuing to update and provide new information from the latest research.
  • Investing in breeding dairy animals with better welfare traits, such as better heat tolerance, mastitis resistance, easier calvings, and polled (do not grow horns) animals.
  • Continually reviewing our animal health and welfare policies to ensure they reflect best practice.

To benchmark improvements in the welfare of dairy animals, Dairy Australia has regularly conducted the Animal Husbandry Survey since 2005. The data gathered is used to identify where the industry requires more support and information, to inform future development of the National Dairy Industry Animal Welfare Strategy, as well as to track the uptake of recommended practices.

For more information on animal care in the dairy industry, view the latest Australian Dairy Industry Sustainability Report.