Petition Closed
Petitioning Senator Joe Ludwig and 8 others

Bobby Calf abuse soon to get worse in Australia - newborn calves denied feed for up to 30hrs


In Australia around 700 000 bobby calves are sent to slaughter each year, because they are simply unwanted.  They are seen as nothing more than a by product of the dairy industry.

'Bobby Calves' are often the casualties of the Dairy Industry. Within 12 hrs of being born they are taken from their mums, then at age 4+ days old these newborns are trucked to slaughter.

Products from processed newborn calves include young veal for human consumption, valuable hides for leather and byproducts for the pharmaceutical industry.

When transported from farms to saleyards, and  then to their final destination being abattoirs, bobby calves are often treated terribly. Many of these newborn calves struggle to walk by themselves which can frustrate handlers. Calves are often dragged and thrown about during the farm to slaughter process.



"Just when we thought the treatment of bobby calves couldn't get any worse, it's about to"

The Australian Dairy Industry has already stated that newborn calves deteriorate after being denied feed for up to 24hrs, but despite this it is now proposing that bobby calves be denied feed for up to 30hrs.

The below proposal (pls see link for full report) is a summary of research commissioned by Dairy Australia and the Department of Agriculture Fisheries and Forestry (Fisher et. al. 2010, in preparation) to support the development of a science-based maximum time-off-feed (TOF) standard for bobby calves.

The Australian study was conducted in 2009/10 by Dr Andrew Fisher and colleagues from the University of Melbourne and the Animal Welfare Science Centre. It has provided data for Australian conditions.

The objectives of this experiment were:

1) to determine the welfare and metabolic state of 5- to 10-day-old dairy calves in response to increasing time off feed- up to 30 hours, in conjunction with three transport scenarios; and

2) to use these results to provide objective scientific evidence, along with the published New Zealand information, to support the Australian development of an appropriate standard for maximum permissible time–off-feed for the bobby calf supply chain.


A public consultation period is now underway into how long bobby calves can be off feed prior to slaughter.  Members of the public have until the 3rd of February 2011 to have their say on new standards, and we must all take this opportunity.

The link below provides details on where to send your submission:

Letter to
Senator Joe Ludwig
Hon Peter Lindsay Walsh
Chief Minister Jon Stanhope
and 6 others
Kon Vatskalis
Bryan Green MP
Minister Steve Whan
Hon Michael O'Brien
Hon Tim Mulherin
Hon Terry Redman
I have recently learnt of a proposal submitted by Dairy Australia which, if accepted by Government would see newborn dairy calves, known as bobby calves, be denied food for up to 30hrs. I find this most unacceptable.

Removing newborn calves from their mothers at approximately12hrs old and transporting them off to saleyards and abattoirs at 4+ days old is disturbing enough, but to extend the accepted time limit off feed which is 10 hours to 30 hours, thus deliberately starving these calves during the process, is simply unconscionable.

Dairy Australia's research found that the welfare of bobby calves begins to deteriorate from 24hrs off feed and that is if conditions are ideal which they rarely are.

The University of Melbourne’s (Australia) ‘scientific research project’ conducted in 2009/2010 – paid for by the Dairy Industry and the Federal Government was undertaken to ascertain if newborn calves deteriorate when denied feed for up to 30hrs This study was carried out using bobby calves in optimum condition, humanely transported and handled by experienced people in ideal weather conditions.

This is a far cry from the reality of calf handling and transports given the calves are unwanted by products of the dairy industry. It is an accepted fact that when animals are of less value they are considered unworthy of humane treatment. A visit to any calf saleyard will provide proof of their mistreatment.

The Dairy Australia proposal is based on pure increased economic expedience with the benefit of removing what the industry view as restrictive welfare practice: ensuring calves are either killed, or fed within 10 hours as stated in the already accepted and scientifically based Code of Practice for Cattle.

In my opinion any inclusion into the Bobby Calf Standards and Guidelines MUST protect animals from cruelty, must ensure their welfare is never potentially compromised and all risks are minimised.

I ask that this unethical submission be rejected.

Yours sincerely