The Model Codes of Practice for the Welfare of Animals were prepared by the Animal Welfare Committee (AWC) that previously operated under the former Primary Industries Ministerial Council (PIMC) system. Membership of the AWC comprised representatives from each of the state departments with responsibility for agriculture; the Commonwealth Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry; the CSIRO; and Animal Health Australia.
Extensive consultation took place with industry and animal welfare groups in the development of the Codes. They were occasionally revised to take account of advances in the understanding of animal physiology and behaviour, changes in animal husbandry and their relationships to the welfare of animals.
The Codes cover the husbandry of livestock species under such headings as:
The Codes of Practice are endorsed by PIMC before release as national codes. Current Model Codes of Practice are:
In NSW, Codes marked * are adopted by reference into the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulation 2012 under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 It is not an offence if animals are not kept precisely as specified in the Codes but referencing them makes them admissible in proceedings for a related offence in the Act or Regulations. Even if a code is not referenced into the Regulation, it is still regarded as the minimum standard by which livestock should be kept.
A project under the Australian Animal Welfare Strategy aims to replace the Model Codes with nationally agreed Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines. It is intended that the Standards will be mandatory in all states and territories. More information and current drafts can be found at Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines.