Based on scientific evidence and significant input from AVA members and the veterinary profession.

How are policies created?

The Australian Veterinary Association bases its policies and advocacy activities on scientific evidence. At the same time, it is widely accepted that scientific assessments of animal welfare involve a number of considerations that are ethical in nature.

These considerations will change over time as more becomes known, and this is the case in all scientific inquiry. There remain large areas of knowledge about animal welfare that require further scientific research.

To acknowledge the ethical dimension of animal welfare, the AVA has adopted a statement of principles that articulate the ethical basis for our policies and advocacy on animal welfare issues.

Statement of principles

Animals are sentient beings that are conscious, feel pain, and experience emotions.[1] [2] Animals and people have established relationships for mutual benefit for thousands of years.

Humans have a responsibility or duty of care to protect animals. Where a person does not meet his or her obligations to animals in his or her care, animals may suffer. When this happens, the law must be able to adequately intervene to enforce compliance and prevent suffering.

Animals have intrinsic value and should be treated humanely by the people who benefit from them. Owned animals should be safe from physical and psychological harm. They need access to water and species-appropriate shelter and food and should be able to fulfill their important behavioural and social needs. They must receive prompt veterinary care when required, and have as painless and stress-free a death as possible.

Animals can be used to benefit humans if they are humanely treated, but the benefit to people should be balanced with the cost to the animal. They should not be used in direct combat or for purposes where suffering, injury or distress is likely to be caused.

Humans should strive to provide positive experiences to promote a good life for the animals in their care. We should strive for continuous and incremental improvement in the treatment and welfare of animals.

Humans have a responsibility to care for the natural environment of free-living native animals. People should take steps to preserve endangered species, and protect native animals from disease where possible.

Accreditation and employment of veterinarians

Employment of new veterinary graduates

Veterinary graduates should be given professional support and opportunities for improving their knowledge and practical skills in exchange for demonstrating a willingness to commit to employers, practice policies and procedures, continuing professional development and engagement with their profession.

Government veterinary services

Government veterinary services must be maintained at sufficient capacity to meet the needs of Australia’s animal health environment now and into the future, as well as ensuring capacity to respond to animal health emergencies. A gap analysis of staffing levels of veterinarians in local, state, territory and Commonwealth governments is supported, as well as ongoing periodic review and a commitment by governments to resource appropriately in response to this information.

Private veterinary engagement with Government veterinary services

1. Schemes which seek to enhance collaboration between private and government veterinary services should be adequately resourced by government to optimize Australia’s emergency animal disease preparedness and response capabilities. 2. Recruitment of private veterinarians to assist with government work should be based on pre-approved protocols which clearly define the basis and parameters of engagement. 3. The role of the private veterinarian is viewed as complementary to the work of government, but not as a substitute for an adequately staffed and resourced government veterinary workforce.

Provision of Animal Health (Veterinary) Laboratories

Governments must ensure that veterinary laboratory capacity meets Australia’s needs, including those of regional and remote locations. This is essential to maintain Australia’s favourable animal health status.

Regulation of animal health service providers

All animal health service providers, including veterinarians, paraprofessionals and non-veterinary animal health providers should be appropriately regulated to ensure adequate animal welfare and consumer protection.

Veterinary nursing

The use of the title ‘veterinary nurse’ should be restricted to those who hold the Australian nationally accredited Certificate IV in Veterinary Nursing or its equivalent. All other veterinary clinic employees should be called receptionists, animal assistants or animal attendants.

Animal welfare principles and philosophy

Animal abuse

Veterinarians should report suspected animal abuse to the relevant authorities. Veterinarians should not be required by law to report instances of suspected animal abuse as this may discourage owners from seeking essential treatment for their injured animals. 

Animal welfare societies

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) encourages liaison and involvement of AVA members with local animal welfare societies. This is in the best interests of the AVA, the veterinary profession, the societies involved and the animals that the welfare societies have been established to assist.

Philosophy on animal welfare and the veterinarian

Veterinarians by virtue of their training, skill and knowledge promote animal welfare at all levels of activity and interactions with humans or animals.

Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines

Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines

The welfare standards and guidelines for livestock aim to streamline livestock welfare legislation in Australia, ensuring that it is both practical for industry and results in improved welfare outcomes.

Cattle health and welfare

Beef and sheep feedlots

Beef cattle and sheep/lamb feedlots must be operated in compliance with the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle and the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep.

Cattle spaying

Cattle can be spayed by veterinarians using the Willis spay technique until suitable alternatives are developed.

Foetal bovine serum collection

Foetal bovine serum is of great value for diagnostic and research purposes. The collection of foetal blood at licensed abattoirs is supported, provided that the welfare of the foetus is safeguarded by ensuring that the foetus is unconscious at the time of collection.

Induction of parturition

Induction of parturition (calving induction) in dairy herds must only be undertaken for therapeutic reasons such as mismated heifers, downer pre-calving cows, high risk dystocia or malnutrition cases.

Johne’s disease

The objectives and activities of the National Johne’s Disease Control Program are important in ongoing efforts to contain and control the spread of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis on Australian farms.

Management of horned cattle species

Breeding of polled cattle is preferable to dehorning, however further research into methods to determine the carrier status for the horned phenotype is needed in some breeds.

Off-cow rearing of calves

Off cow rearing of calves (aged less than 6 months) and their sale and transport are acceptable procedures, provided the welfare of the calves is safeguarded and the guidelines for the health and welfare of the calves, as provided below, are followed.

Tail docking of cattle

Tail docking in cattle should be performed only for therapeutic reasons on veterinary advice.

Use of female cattle for pregnancy testing and artificial insemination schools

Pregnancy testing/diagnosis (PD) and artificial insemination (AI) are important and useful tools that help promote good management and the genetic improvement of cattle. It is important that these procedures be conducted competently and with due regard for animal welfare.

Welfare of vealer calves

Vealer calves must be raised under conditions that maintain the welfare of the animals. This includes appropriate nutrition, housing, disease prevention, veterinary care and measures to reduce stress.

Companion animals - commercial activities

Avoiding Use of Dog Breeds with Exaggerated Features in Marketing

AVA does not include dog breeds with exaggerated features, or images of these breeds.

Boarding facilities including dog and cat daycare centres

Overnight boarding establishments and day care centres should be regulated by a license which is underpinned by mandated standards and effective auditing arrangements.

Companion animals in pet shops

Pet shops must be regulated by legislation and codes of practice to ensure maintenance of high standards in every aspect of the operation.

Online advertising of dogs and cats

Websites or online trading platforms that advertise dogs and cats for sale must have in place and follow standards that support animal welfare and protect potential buyers. Veterinarians should be involved in the development of these standards.

Puppy farming

Where companion animals such as dogs and cats are bred, the conditions must meet the physical, behavioural and social needs of the breeding animals and their offspring.

Sale of companion animals at markets

Companion animals should not be sold at markets.

The sale of ferret kits

Ferret kits should be vaccinated and not offered for sale younger than ten weeks of age.

Companion animals - dog behaviour

Aggression in dogs

Aggression is a part of the normal behavioural repertoire of all dogs. People decide whether the intensity and frequency of the aggression and the situations in which it occurs are acceptable. Opinions may differ widely about even a single incident.

Breed-specific legislation

Legislation to prevent dog bites and to manage aggressive dogs should focus on the individual dog and the owner not the breed. Breed-specific legislation for dog bite prevention has failed to reduce the frequency of dog bites both in Australia and overseas.

Importing dogs

Dogs being imported should be considered for behavioural assessment as well as physical examination before they are permitted to enter Australia.

Puppy Socialisation

Puppies must be able to interact with the environment and be socialised.

Use of behaviour-modifying collars on dogs

Behaviour-modifying collars that use electric shock should not be used on animals and should be banned. Behaviour-modifying collars that use citronella (or other nontoxic substances) are not recommended.

Companion animals - health

Anaesthesia-free dentistry in dogs and cats

Performing anaesthesia-free dentistry on dogs and cats is not appropriate. Comprehensive examination, diagnosis and treatment cannot properly proceed whilst an animal is conscious.

Desexing (surgical sterilisation) of companion animals

The AVA believes surgical desexing (sterilisation) is an important tool to reduce unwanted companion animals in the community, particularly when combined with relevant community education programs.

Guidelines for dental treatment in dogs and cats

The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines to veterinarians when making diagnoses and when managing periodontal disease in dogs and cats.

Provision of blood supplies for use in dogs and cats

Blood or blood product, collected humanely from donor animals, can be beneficial to the recipient animals, without compromising the welfare of the donors. Animals should not be kept solely as blood donors because this may compromise their socialisation and care.

Vaccination of dogs and cats

Every dog and cat should be appropriately immunised, and each individual animal should be vaccinated as frequently as considered necessary by their veterinarian to provide protection.

Companion animals - management and welfare

Animal shelters and municipal pounds

Animals kept in pounds and shelters must be housed under appropriate conditions that ensure their health and welfare, meeting the animals’ physiological, behavioural and social needs.

Companion animals confined to vehicles

A companion animal should not be confined to a parked or stationary vehicle where it is at risk of developing hyperthermia.

Companion animals in aged-care accommodation

The integration of companion animals into retirement and aged-care facilities has many potential benefits. The aged care industry are encouraged to take responsibility for implementing such initiatives.

Management of cats in Australia

Cat management is the shared responsibility of state and local governments, animal shelters and members of the public who own or feed cats.

Nutrition of dogs and cats

The nutritional status of cats and dogs is a very important indicator of their health and welfare, and should be assessed by veterinarians as part of a holistic approach to veterinary care.

Pet insurance

Pet insurance has the potential to contribute to optimal health and welfare outcomes for Australian pets.

Selective breeding based on genetic testing of companion animals

Selective breeding of companion animals based on genetic tests should only occur where there have been proven phenotypic outcomes which will improve an animal’s viability, conformation, health and welfare.

The responsible ownership of dogs and cats and the human–animal bond

Dog and cat ownership is an integral part of the human- animal bond and plays an important and positive role in the health and well being of the community.

Complementary and alternative treatments


The AVA encourages appropriately designed and conducted studies to help identify those situations and applications of acupuncture that may benefit veterinary patients.

Complementary and alternative veterinary medicine

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) recommends that veterinarians make informed and judicious decisions regarding the use of complementary and alternative veterinary medicine (CAVM) modalities.

Promotion of inneffective therapies

The AVA’s overall constitutional objectives are to “promote and advance veterinary and allied sciences within Australia”, and one of the core values is “Knowledge – we base our decisions on evidence, and actively seek out knowledge”.

The diagnosis and treatment of animals by non-veterinarians

The welfare of animals and the control of disease, as well as public health and biosecurity, may be compromised where non-veterinarians independently diagnose and treat animals.

Deer health and welfare

The management of antlers on farmed deer

Deer velveting must be carried out by a veterinarian or by a deer farmer trained and accredited under the National Velveting Accreditation Scheme (NVAS).

Environment and conservation

Considering welfare of target and non-target animals in planning vertebrate control programs

Introduced vertebrate animals have negative environmental, economic and social impacts. There are economic, conservation and welfare consequences to both inaction and human intervention.

Climate change and animal health, welfare and production

Climate change is likely to negatively affect animal health and welfare. This will affect humans who rely on animal production systems that are vulnerable to climate change.

Drought and drought management

Drought must be recognised as a substantial risk factor in Australian animal production systems.

Quarantine and risk assessment

Australia should have strong and effective quarantine policies and strategies to maintain its favourable animal health status.

Sustainable use of pastoral land

Pastoralists have primary responsibility for the care of pastoral land and should develop sustainable agricultural practices which should be monitored and supported by the community.

Use of waste products on agricultural land

The application to agricultural land of recycled waste products is supported only when such use complies with state and territory legislation and is based on published environmental guidelines.

Native Animal Welfare

Where clearing of wildlife habitat is proposed: 1. Operators should adhere to the principles of ecologically sustainable development; 2. Every effort should be made to minimise the animal welfare impacts on native wildlife; 3. A native wildlife assessment to evaluate the potential impact on wildlife and biodiversity in the bioregion should be performed if the habitat is remnant or mature regrowth habitat, an area of high conservation status, or where clearing approval is required under existing legislation and; 4. Land should be set aside as designated national parks or reserves and wildlife corridors in each bioregion, for the maintenance of a balanced and healthy ecosystem.


Collection, euthanasia and disposal of the cane toad, Rhinella marina

This statement outlines circumstances in which it is appropriate to humanely kill cane toads, Rhinella marina (previously Bufo marinus), and acceptable methods that should be used.


The attending veterinarian must recommend euthanasia for an animal if the animal is suffering and that suffering is not able to be adequately minimised or managed.

Euthanasia of injured wildlife

For the purposes of this policy, wildlife is defined as either native or introduced free-ranging mammal, bird or reptile species. The increasing human population is significantly impacting the environment and its wild animal inhabitants. Reduction and fragmentation of native habitat places wild animals at increased risk of disease and trauma.

Humane slaughter

A number of animal species are slaughtered in Australia for food including sheep, cattle, pigs and poultry. Arrangements should be in place so that animals are spared unnecessary excitement, pain, stress or suffering during movement, restraint, stunning and slaughter.

Marine mammal euthanasia

Veterinarians attending a whale stranding or other emergency affecting free-living marine mammals (such as injury to animals or oil spills) have a duty of care to take all reasonable measures to ensure the survival and welfare of the animals.

Use of euthanasia drugs by non-veterinarians

Pentobarbitone or similar drugs registered for the euthanasia of animals should only be administered by a registered veterinarian.

Horse health and welfare

Artificial breeding of horses and related species

Artificial breeding techniques are viable options for propagation of horses and related species.

Castration of horses and donkeys

Castration of horses and donkeys (including foals) is a significant surgical procedure, requiring appropriate technique, anaesthesia, analgesia and aftercare, including post surgical exercise. It should only be performed by a registered veterinarian.

Distal limb neurectomy

Distal limb neurectomy in appropriate and selected cases is an acceptable and useful treatment option for chronic irreversible heel pain causing lameness in horses.

Equine competitive events (other than jump races and rodeos)

Organisers of competitive events involving horses must strive to ensure the health and welfare of the horse is not compromised. Responsibility lies with the rider (or competition team) and the event organising committee.

Equine dentistry

All dental procedures on horses and related species should be performed only by registered veterinarians and be supported by evidenced-based medicine.

Equine jumping races

Hurdle and steeplechase (jumping) races are comparable to other legitimate forms of strenuous equestrian activity.

Hendra Virus

Precautions must be taken by horse owners, handlers and veterinary staff to minimise the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses and people.

Keeping livestock in urban and peri-urban areas

Keeping livestock in urban and peri-urban areas may present special risks to animals, humans, the environment and livestock industries.

Racing two year old thoroughbreds

Two-year-old horses that are obviously immature in age and development, or have significant faults in conformation, should not be raced.

Thermocautery of horses

Thermocautery (firing) should never be used as a treatment of horses as there is no scientific evidence for its efficacy and it causes unnecessary pain. All regulatory authorities across Australia are encouraged to ban this practice.

Transport of horses

The Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Land Transport approved by the Primary Industries Ministerial Council (PIMC) should be uniformly adopted and effectively enforced Australia-wide.

Use of horses for entertainment

Horses can participate in public entertainment provided their needs for shelter, exercise, transport, rest and basic husbandry are met, and their welfare is a priority during training and performance.

Use of whips on horses at competitive events

Excessive or incorrect use of a whip on any horse is not acceptable.

Hunting and fishing

Fish welfare

When fish are farmed, kept in aquaria or captured from the wild for commercial or recreational purposes all efforts must be taken to minimise suffering of the fish.


Terrestrial animals including birds should not be hunted purely for sport or recreation.

Waterfowl hunting

Waterfowl should not be hunted for recreation or sport alone. Where waterfowl are shot for culling or food, shooters should obey all relevant legislation, permit conditions and codes of practice. The main concern must be for the welfare of the waterfowl.

Identification of animals

Branding of horses

1. Horses must be permanently identified. The preferred method is radiofrequency identification (microchip) for management, registration, traceability and identification purposes. 2. Where branding is considered necessary in addition to electronic identification, freeze branding must be used. Appropriate analgesia is essential.

Electronic identification of animals

RFID devices include microchips and other electronic tags. Use of this technology enables operators to identify individual animals by the means of a unique identification number that then can be linked to an owner, business or property.

Identification of cattle

A national system enabling individual identification and traceability of cattle is strongly supported as it is a critical tool for effective farm management, food safety, disease control and international trade.

Miscellaneous welfare issues - animal export

Export of native birds

Only common (non-CITES listed) Australian native birds bred in captivity may be exported. Such export should only occur if effective controls are in place.

Live animal export

Ideally, Australian food animals should be slaughtered as close to the site of production as practicable to minimise transport and handling stress, and to ensure they are protected by appropriate and enforceable animal welfare and slaughter standards.

Miscellaneous welfare issues - animal research & teaching

Animal experimentation

There must be appropriate legislation and enforcement in all states and territories  to ensure that the welfare of animals used in research, field trials and teaching is adequately protected.

Genetically modified organisms

The development and use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), or the use of related technologies such as gene therapy, represent a valid extension of traditional methods of genetically altering organisms in some cases.

Use of dogs for teaching in veterinary schools

The use of live animals in the teaching of veterinary science is essential.

Miscellaneous welfare issues - events and exhibits involving animals

Circus animals

The use of animals in circuses is a matter of growing community debate, and can have considerable animal welfare implications.

Greyhound hurdle racing

The Australian Veterinary Association does not support hurdle racing by greyhounds.

Greyhound muzzling

The AVA opposes compulsory pet Greyhound muzzling.

Greyhound racing

The primary concern of the Australian Veterinary Association is the health and welfare of the dogs involved in the Greyhound racing industry.


The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Rodeo and Rodeo School Livestock in Victoria (now Part 3, Victorian Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008) should be adopted at a national level.

Use of animals in petting zoos and other displays

Veterinarians and medical practitioners must be involved in the planning and implementation of animal health and welfare standards and biosecurity protocols whenever human and animal interaction is to occur in petting zoos or animal displays.

Welfare of cetaceans in captivity

Cetaceans should not be kept in captivity unless it can be demonstrated that their husbandry, welfare and health requirements can be met.

Zoos, aquaria, sanctuaries and animal parks

Zoos, aquaria, sanctuaries and animal parks must be established, maintained and monitored under relevant state or territory legislation.

Miscellaneous welfare issues - other welfare issues

Genetic defects in domestic animals

Animals with known genetic defects that have the potential to adversely affect their welfare or that of their progeny should not be used for breeding, other than in exceptional circumstances.

Guidelines for the tethering of animals

Tethering is defined as the securing of an animal to an anchor point to confine it to a desired area. It is used to prevent animals (e.g. dogs) straying in the owner’s absence or to allow animals (e.g. sheep and goats) to graze unfenced pasture. Tethering should not be confused with short-term tying up or with hobbling.

Organic livestock farming

Veterinarians should be involved in the development of Organic Management Plans (OMPs) to ensure the health and welfare of animals is not compromised in order to attain or maintain organic status.


Tethering is a temporary method of restraint and is not suitable for long-term confinement. Tethering of animals requires a high standard of animal husbandry and exceptional care, including regular and frequent inspections. Animals should be appropriately trained to tether.

Other services provided by veterinarians

Emergency animal management

Government authorities and relevant agencies should engage veterinarians in the development and implementation of local, state and federal plans for disasters and emergencies involving animals, zoonoses, public health or other veterinary-related issues.

Engagement of private veterinary practitioners in national disease surveillance

In Australian agriculture, our ‘clean and green’ reputation has provided a privileged trading position for many years,1 ensuring consumer confidence in terrestrial and aquatic livestock production in both local and international markets.

Role of veterinarians in the care and use of animals for scientific purposes

All institutions using animals for research must employ facility veterinarians in sufficient numbers to adequately supervise animal interventions. Facility animal welfare officers (AWOs) should also be veterinarians.

Pig health and welfare

Sow housing

Sow housing should optimise the health, nutrition and welfare of sows, newly born piglets and unborn piglets.

Poultry health and welfare

Beak trimming of commercial poultry

Beak trimming of commercial poultry is endorsed only in situations in which it is needed to reduce the prevalence of pecking and cannibalism which is not able to be controlled by other means.

Commercial egg production systems

Commercial egg production systems should provide for the health, nutrition, and psychological wellbeing of the hens.

Professional practices for veterinarians

Appropriate use of post-nominals

It is recommended that the following specific guidelines be followed for the use of veterinary post-nominals. Inappropriate use is discouraged especially when it is potentially misleading.

Clinical veterinary internships

An internship should prepare a veterinarian for a membership, residency, advanced specialty training or high-quality clinical practice.

AVA Clinical internship guidelines

Veterinary clinical internship programs are usually completed over a 12 month period; the maximum time to complete an internship is 24 months. It is optimal but not essential that graduates have completed 1 to 2 years in general practice prior to commencing an internship.

Equality, diversity and inclusion

The Australian Veterinary Association is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion in all aspects of our profession. These qualities are integral to the AVA’s values of support for professionalism, knowledge, community, adaptability and respect.

House call practice

Mobile companion animal veterinary services must follow relevant regulations set by the appropriate state and territory government. In addition, these services must have arrangements in place for the provision of surgical treatments, hospital care, diagnostic procedures, transport of animals, recording of treatments and communications with clients. 

In-house diagnostic pathology and pathology referrals

Veterinarians offering ‘in-house’ diagnostic pathology services should ensure that equipment and services are subject to regular quality control and quality assurance testing.

Indigenous Community Animal Health Program (ICAHP) Model and Guidelines

Indigenous Community Animal Health Programs (ICAHPs) are designed to improve the health and welfare of the populations of animals in Indigenous communities while meeting the needs of their owners. They also aim to improve the overall health and wellbeing of the community through animal health management.

Licensing of Veterinarians

State and territory veterinary registration boards are the legislated authorities to regulate veterinary professional conduct. Veterinarians should not be subject to disciplinary proceedings for matters of professional conduct under any other licensing regime.

Q Fever protection in veterinary practice

Veterinary practices must have a Q fever risk management protocol in place for all staff, clients and visitors to the practice, to ensure their protection.

Restricted acts of veterinary science

The performing of acts of veterinary science must be restricted to registered veterinary practitioners, in order to protect the health, safety, and welfare of animals.

Retention of medical records and diagnostic images

Medical records and diagnostic images remain the property of the veterinarian or practice, not the client, and must be retained for legal reasons.

The provision of optimum veterinary services to the greyhound racing industry

Veterinarians involved in the greyhound racing industry should be members of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) and Australian Greyhound Working and Sporting Dog Veterinarians (AGWSDV), and should abide by the AVA Code of Professional Conduct. They should follow the guidelines set out below.

The provision of optimum veterinary services to the horse racing industry

Veterinarians involved in the horse racing industry are required to abide by the rules of racing relevant to veterinarians in the jurisdictions in which they work and should follow the guidelines outlined below.

Use of communication technologies in delivering veterinary services

In using information communication technologies, veterinarians should ensure that they and their staff are trained and competent in the use of these technologies and that the control over and the quality of transferred information is of a high standard.

Veterinarians in the media

Veterinarians must ensure that all advice and depictions of veterinary services used in the media or for entertainment are in accordance with best practice standards of veterinary science.

Veterinary referrals and second opinions

Veterinarians who refer patients to another veterinarian and those who receive such cases should communicate and cooperate closely to achieve the goal of providing quality care for their clients and patients. This applies to veterinarians in both general and specialist practice.

Telemedicine practice

Veterinary telemedicine practice uses telecommunication technology to undertake remote consultation without the patient being physically present.

The role of veterinarians in the management of zoonotic disease

1. All veterinarians should be prepared to take appropriate action to minimise the impact of zoonotic diseases on both animal and human health. 2. Appropriately trained veterinarians should be included in investigative, legislative and advisory groups focused on zoonotic disease identification, prevention and management. 3. The development of strong One Health collaborations with government backing and legal authority, engaging veterinary, medical, public health and environmental professionals should be prioritised.

Sheep and goat health and welfare

Beef and sheep feedlots

Beef cattle and sheep/lamb feedlots must be operated in compliance with the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle and the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Sheep.

Caprine arthritis encephalitis (CAE)

Caprine arthritis encephalitis should be considered by the Animal Health Committee for classification nationally as a notifiable disease.

Castration of adult rams

The castration of adult rams must be treated as a major surgical procedure and be performed only by a veterinarian. Appropriate perioperative care including analgesia must be provided.

Electroejaculation of rams

Electroejaculation should be used only by, or under the supervision of, a skilled operator with appropriate training and technically-advanced equipment to protect the welfare of the ram.

Johne’s disease

The objectives and activities of the National Johne’s Disease Control Program are important in ongoing efforts to contain and control the spread of Mycobacterium paratuberculosis on Australian farms.

Laparoscopic artificial insemination in small ruminants

1. Laparoscopic artificial insemination (AI) in sheep, goats and other small ruminants is supported provided that appropriate surgical standards and animal welfare requirements are met. 2. Laparoscopic AI requires surgical entry into the abdominal cavity and must only be carried out by a registered veterinarian.

Pizzle dropping

Pizzle dropping must not be performed on sheep.

Sheep dentistry, including tooth trimming

Tooth trimming, tooth clipping or tooth grinding in sheep is opposed as these procedures have been shown scientifically to have no benefit to the welfare or productivity of the animal and therefore cannot be justified or recommended.

Surgical mulesing

Blowfly strike is a serious animal welfare concern. Alternative methods of fly strike management and blowfly control that do not involve surgical removal of skin from the breech region are available and should be used and further developed.

Tail docking and castration of lambs and sheep

Tail docking is performed in sheep to reduce the incidence of blowfly strike that may result from urine and faecal staining of the perineum. Castration is performed for management reasons and perceived meat quality benefits. If the intention is to slaughter lambs at an early age, castration may not be required.

Surgical, medical and other veterinary procedures - general

Code for infection control

Animal hospitals and practitioners have a duty of care and must take reasonable action to safeguard animals, staff and the public from infection.

Collection of semen from animals by electroejaculation

Electroejaculation is necessary for evaluating the reproductive status of animals and for collecting semen. Electroejaculators achieve their effect by localised electrical stimulation of the nerves controlling ejaculation and emission. Inappropriate use of the procedure by unskilled persons may cause significant stress and trauma to animals. Operators therefore require training in achieving appropriate stimulation without causing adverse effects on the animal’s welfare.

Cosmetic surgery to alter the natural appearance of animals

Surgical procedures performed on animals for purely cosmetic reasons, such as tail docking and ear cropping, are unacceptable under any circumstances.


Electro-immobilisation for veterinary interventions should only be used for animal restraint where there is no feasible alternative.

Embryo collection and embryo transfer

Embryo collection and embryo transfer in animals should only be conducted by registered, appropriately trained, veterinarians or persons under the direct and immediate supervision of a registered veterinarian.

Pain and analgesia

Pain in animals must be prevented, relieved and managed whenever possible. Euthanasia is indicated where an animal is suffering, or is likely to suffer, intractable pain, where treatment is ineffective or is not pursued.

Surgical alteration of companion animals’ natural functions for human convenience

Surgical procedures performed on companion animals primarily to provide a convenience or benefit to humans are not supported or recommended.

Use of analgesia for routine husbandry procedures

Appropriate and effective analgesia during potentially painful livestock husbandry procedures must be used and promoted. Protocols should be available for operators to appropriately and safely use analgesics during painful husbandry procedures.

Use of projectile syringe equipment

Systems for the remote injection of drugs in livestock, wild animals or companion animals can be used safely and humanely, provided that the people involved in the procedure have required licensing, skills, competencies and knowledge.

Unusual pets and avian

Dental guidelines for small mammals

These guidelines are overarching principles that will assist the veterinarian in their approach to dentals disease in small companion mammals.

Feeding of live mammals to snakes

The feeding of live mammals to snakes is strongly opposed.

Feeding rabbits and guinea pigs

Rabbits and guinea pigs must be fed a predominantly grass hay and/or grass diet, to ensure proper wear of their dentition, to promote proper gut function and to ensure adequate water intake.

Myxomatosis vaccination of pet rabbits

Steps should be taken to introduce a safe and effective myxomatosis vaccination program to protect the health of pet rabbits while not impacting unfavourably upon the control of the wild population.

Native animals as pets

Native Australian animals should only be kept as pets when the following criteria can be satisfied.

Sale of unweaned altricial birds

Unweaned altricial birds should not be sold. 

Vaccination of rabbits and ferrets

Vaccination of pet rabbits against rabbit caliciviral disease and ferrets against distemper is recommended.

Use of veterinary medicines

Code of practice for the use of prescription animal remedies (Schedule 4 substances) in the pig industry

The role of the veterinarian in the pig industry ranges from herd health management to individual care.

Code of practice for the use of prescription animal remedies (Schedule 4 substances) in the poultry industry

Veterinarians must be familiar with federal and state legislation, as it applies to their obligations as a registered veterinarian in the state(s) in which they practise, relating to the purchase, storage, supply and use of prescription animal remedies (PARs, Schedule 4 medications).

Responsible use of veterinary immunobiologicals in cats and dogs

Immunobiological products (vaccines) should only be administered to dogs and cats by a registered veterinarian or under the direct supervision of a veterinarian.

Responsible use of veterinary medicines on farms

Veterinarians should engage with their farmer clients to promote the responsible use of veterinary medicines on farms.

Use of antimicrobial drugs in veterinary practice

Antimicrobials are essential tools for veterinarians to ensure the maintenance of health and welfare in companion animals, livestock, wildlife and other animals.

Veterinary prescribing rights

Veterinary prescribing rights impart authority to enable access by owners to veterinary medicines that might otherwise be unavailable because of scheduling, label directions or not being registered as a veterinary chemical for the species or purpose.

Veterinary use of compounded pharmaceuticals

A compounded product should only be used when no other registered product can effectively treat the condition. A compounded medication should only be used if the registered product is unavailable or unsuitable; this represents best practice. Use of compounded drugs in food producing species should be avoided unless information exists to ensure that the maximum residue limit (MRL) is not exceeded.

Wild animals

Control of feral horses and other equidae

The management of feral horses and other equidae populations is considered necessary to achieve fauna and flora conservation goals as well as economic goals (such as reducing competition with livestock for finite food and water resources).

Control of native and introduced animals causing damage to agriculture or habitat

1. Control programs to protect the environment, social amenity and agriculture from invasive animals must be carried out humanely. They must use best practice methods based on scientific research, and must include monitoring and assessment for continual improvement. 2. Humane control standards must be enshrined in legislation and methods known to be inhumane must not be used in Australia. 3. Continual research must be undertaken to identify more humane options for control of pest animal species.

Control of wild rabbits

Reducing adverse impacts of wild rabbits is a legitimate and necessary objective for those responsible for managing agricultural land, pastoral land, national parks and other land.

Farming of native fauna

Australia has a large and varied native fauna. Commercial farming of native species such as emus, crocodiles and invertebrates occurs in some states but is illegal in others.

Harvesting and culling of native fauna

Both harvesting and culling of overabundant populations of native fauna are accepted subject to the use of rigorous population assessment methods and the use of humane techniques in accordance with current scientific knowledge, legislative frameworks and agreed management plans, and so as not to adversely affect threatened or endangered species.

Kangaroo and wallaby population control

Population management of large macropods (kangaroos, wallabies, euro’s etc) is necessary to prevent circumstances where there could be significant welfare or environmental issues arising from overpopulation.