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Euthanasia of Livestock

Occasionally, euthanasia is required to prevent or minimise the pain and suffering of sick or injured animals. It is important that those in charge of the care of dairy animals have the skills and resources to ensure when euthanasia is required, it occurs in a skilled and timely manner. The dairy sector’s euthanasia policies are developed in line with the law, the expectations of the community and to ensure best care for all animals.

Industry euthanasia policy

A stronger industry policy has been implemented on euthanasia. In May 2019, the Australian Dairy Farmers National Council passed recommendations which state:

Dairy farmers must create provisions for on-farm euthanasia through the use of a licensed firearm or captive bolt device and provide training as required.

Euthanasia by blunt force trauma should not occur on Australian dairy farms. There is one exception to this rule, which is in emergency situations. An emergency situation is defined by the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines for Cattle as ‘the calf is under 24 hours old and the calf is in severe pain or distress and there is no other practical alternative’.


Dairy farmers are actively encouraged to ensure they are able to perform euthanasia in line with best practice and provide training for their staff.

Euthanase Livestock courses are routinely offered by every Regional Development Program, equipping farmers with the tools and knowledge they need to remain compliant with best practice and industry policies on-farm.

Dairy farmers who wish to find out more about courses available in their region can contact their local Regional Development Program.

More information

Dairy Australia has developed a fact sheet, Humane killing and disposal of sick or injured cattle, which outlines best practices for euthanasia of livestock.

Fact Sheet

Humane killing and disposal sick or injured cattle

This factsheet outlines best practices for humane killing and disposal of sick or injured dairy cattle.
Feeding and Farm systems

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