Bobby calf transport standards and guidelines

The selection, preparation and transport of dairy Bobby Calves are paramount to ensure calf welfare. Standards and guidelines specifically for bobby calves are included in the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines — Land Transport of Livestock, commonly referred to as the Land Transport Standards.

The Land Transport Standards (LTS), based on the revision of the existing Model Codes of Practice for the welfare of animals apply to the transport of cattle and the other commercial livestock species.

The LTS have been adopted into regulations under the Victorian Livestock Management Act 2010. Failure to comply with one or more standards is an offence and non-compliance may lead to an infringement or court penalty.

Key messages

The welfare of bobby calves is a whole of supply chain responsibility. Farmers, calf buyers, agents, saleyards, transporters and meat processors all play a key role in ensuring the welfare of bobby calves along the supply chain.

Dairy farmers must ensure bobby calves being transported for sale or slaughter are:

  • at least five days old (unless consigned direct to a calf rearing farm)
  • fit and healthy
  • have been adequately fed within six hours of transport

Transporters must ensure bobby calves are:

  • fit for the journey
  • protected from cold and heat
  • handled appropriately during loading and unloading
  • transported for the minimum time possible with no more than 12 hours spent on transport
  • have a record of when calves were picked up

Meat processors (receivers) must ensure calves are:

  • slaughtered as soon as possible upon arrival or fed within 30 hours since last feed (which ever comes first)
  • protected from cold and heat and taken care of in cases of delay or emergency.

What are welfare 'Standards' and 'Guidelines'?

{image: bobby-calf-transport.jpg ALT: Two bobby calves eating hay in a pen}

Standards are the legal requirements for livestock welfare and use the word 'must'. The standards detail the requirements of livestock management practices and tasks.

Guidelines are recommended practices to achieve desirable welfare outcomes. Guidelines use the word 'should' and are designed to complement the standards.

Definition of a Bobby Calf (as per the LTS)

A calf not accompanied by its mother, less than 30 days old, weighing less than 80 kg live weight, and usually a dairy breed or dairy cross.

What are the requirements for the transport of Bobby Calves?

The Standards

SB 4.4 — Bobby calves less than 5 days old must only be transported directly to a calf-rearing facility and must:

  • be fed a liquid feed within six hours before loading
  • be provided with thick bedding and room to lie down
  • be protected from cold and heat
  • not be consigned through saleyards
  • not be transported for longer than six hours.

SB 4.5 — Bobby calves between 5 and 30 days old being transported must:

  • be protected from cold and heat
  • be in good health, alert and able to rise from a lying position
  • have been adequately fed milk or milk replacer on the farm within six hours of transport
  • be prepared and transported to ensure delivery in less than 18 hours from last feed with no more than 12 hours spent on transport
  • have an auditable and accessible record system that identifies that calves were fed within six hours of transport unless the journey is between rearing properties and is less than six hours duration. (Note: Calf buyers record the time of collection of calves during NLIS scanning. Farmers can use these receipts for calf pick-ups or obtain details from calf processors to match with their feeding schedules to satisfy requirements for an auditable record system).
  • be slaughtered or fed within (TBA) hours from last feed.

{image: bobby-calf-transport_sign.jpg ALT: Sign at saleyards, 'No electric prodders. Animal Welfare. Drover or security to be notified of any sick or injured stock on arrival. All unrestrained dogs must be muzzled.'}

SB 4.6 — Bobby calves must not be consigned across Bass Strait.

SB 4.7 — Bobby calves born earlier than a normal pregnancy (including induced calves) must be at an equivalent stage of fitness when transported, compared with normal full-term calves.

SB 4.8 — Bobby calves must all have sufficient space in the livestock crate to lie down on their sternums.

SB 4.9 — Dogs must not be used to move bobby calves.

SA 5.8 — Electric prodders must not be used on livestock under three months old.

The Guidelines

Fitness

GB 4.3 — Calves should be transported for the shortest time possible. Efficient aggregation practices for bobby calves between 5 and 30 days old should be used to reduce journey times to final destinations. Direct marketing should be used where possible. Calves should not be consigned through saleyards that do not have holding facilities suitable for calves.

GB 4.4 — Bobby calves to be transported should:

  • be of minimum live weight of 23 kg
  • have hooves that are firm and worn flat, and that are not bulbous with soft unworn tissue
  • have a navel cord that is wrinkled, withered and shrivelled and not pink or red coloured, raw or fleshy.

Feeding

GB 4.8 — Calves between five and 30 days old should be given a liquid feed as soon as possible after unloading, unless they are slaughtered within 18 hours of commencing transport.

Vehicles and facilities

GB 4.10 Bobby calves to be transported should:

  • have protection from excess heat, sun, wind and rain, in a vehicle that has an enclosed front and that provides effective airflow
  • be kept clean and dry
  • have bedding

GB 4.11 — During cold weather, additional actions should be taken to protect calves from cold stress and wind chill during transport.

GB 4.12 — Ramps for calves should be designed so that animal welfare is not compromised. Ramp slope for calves should be 12 degrees.

Handling

GB 4.13 — All calves under 30 days old should be unloaded with care as they may not have developed following behaviours and may also become easily fatigued.

Humane destruction

GB 4.17/4.19 — For calves, recommended methods of humane destruction include firearms, captive bolt, or blunt trauma; however, blunt trauma should only be used where there is no other recommended option for humane destruction, and can only be used on calves that are less than 24 hours and should be followed by bleeding-out or another technique while the animal is unconscious, to ensure death.

Who do the Land Transport Standards apply to?

The Standards will apply to all persons (livestock operators) involved in the livestock transport process. Livestock operators include the consignor, transporter and receiver of livestock and will often also include agents, saleyards and livestock processing plants.

The chain of responsibility for bobby calf welfare in the transport process is:

  • The consignor (dairy farmer) for the assembling and preparation of calves, including the assessment and selection as 'fit for the intended journey', feeding provisions, and holding periods before loading.
  • The transporter (truck driver) for the journey, which involves the loading, including final inspection as 'fit for the intended journey', the loading density, during the journey, and unloading.
  • The receiver (abattoir, saleyard, calf-rearing farmer) after unloading including provision of adequate facilities and appropriate arrangements for feeding and care in case of delay or emergency.

Further information

You can find further information on animal welfare standards and guidelines below:

Page last updated: 31 Aug 2020