How Australian laws expose farm animals to routine cruelty — and why you don't know about it

Animals Australia

Animals Australia team

Last updated 26 November 2015

This will probably come as a shock.

At one point or another, many of us have witnessed a child experiencing the painful realisation that an animal they have perhaps gently cuddled – and are told to treat kindly – is actually the same as the kind of animal being served up as ‘dinner’.

Many of us have even been that child. After all, it’s an expression of the natural affinity we have with animals; who are, of course, so very like us.

Usually this understandable concern is smoothed away over time with the reassurance that, in a country like Australia, animals raised and killed for food are protected from cruelty. The thing is: that’s not true.

Australian animals raised and killed for food – whether sensitive pigs, curious turkeys, social chickens or playful lambs – are exempted from cruelty laws that protect the dogs and cats who share our homes.

Instead, various industry Codes and Standards legalise routine treatment of ‘food’ animals that would otherwise be criminal cruelty.

Young lamb

Lambs are castrated and often ‘mulesed’ ¢≠- where a large patch of the skin on their rear is sliced off, along with their tail. Piglets’ tails are also cut off through bone and their teeth are cut through. Calves are ‘disbudded’, where their hornbuds are scooped out or burned off with caustic chemicals.

All with no pain relief. And all legal – if the victim is a ‘productive’ animal.

Pig in crate

The Australian pork industry routinely restricts a mother pig to a metal and concrete stall so tightly she can’t even turn around, for months at a time over years of her life.

And a battery hen can be crammed into a barren wire cage with several others, unable to even spread her wings, for the entire short and awful 18 months she’s alive.

Black and white calf

Or, in the case of ‘meat’ chicks, even ground up alive.

Unwanted Australian dairy calves and chicks face awful fates; usually within the first few days of life, because they’re considered to be ‘waste products’ of the dairy and chicken meat industries.

Legal luck-of-the-draw

The deciding factor under Australian animal agriculture law when it comes to allowing these legalised cruelties is how the animal is being used. Its ‘purpose’, in other words.

A beloved pet rabbit is protected by the same laws as the family dog. The same rabbit instead being farmed for 'meat' -- or for use in experiments -- is not.

Much of the suffering inflicted on Australian farmed animals is routine regardless of the ‘system’ in which the animals are kept; whether ‘free range’, ‘organic’, ‘higher welfare’ or ‘eco-friendly’.

What’s more, government inspection programs for the inadequate ‘protections’ that do exist — while varying from state to state — leave factory farms and abattoirs with very little oversight.

Feeling shocked?

If you’re surprised by all this, you’re not alone. Most Australians aren’t aware of the terrible legal double standard when it comes to ‘pets’ and ‘food animals’ – and the widespread suffering it creates. And that’s no accident. Factory farmers and powerful agricultural industry lobbies have deliberately hidden this from you. They depend on you remaining unaware.

Change is happening already! One in three Australians are eating all or more animal-free foods, and one in five is living deliciously dairy-free.

Because the power to spare animals from legalised abuse is in your hands.

By enjoying delicious animal-friendly foods you can reduce demand for the products of this cruelty. These simple and powerful choices will literally change the world for animals.

Thankfully, around the globe, more and more people are looking with fresh eyes at how ‘traditions’ we take for granted can be transformed into glorious celebrations of kindness.

You can change their lives

We all have the power to take a stand against the routine cruelty inflicted on farmed animals, starting today.

Reducing or replacing animal products in our meals is not only the most profound way to reduce animal suffering, it’s also best for the planet and for us as well.

Eating plant-based is easy, delicious and it’s getting more popular, every single day.

Keen to find out more? You’ll find all the information you need, plus a selection of delicious recipes, in our free veg starter kit! Order your copy here. Or if you’re ready to get cooking right away, then you might like to browse our collection of 100+ scrumptious plant-based recipes at!

Order your FREE Veg Starter kit!

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