Livestock and animal welfare

Livestock, Animal Health and Welfare

Animal owners have a legal responsibility under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act to ensure the welfare of their livestock and companion animals. So, you are permitted to travel to attend to the welfare of your animals following strict hygiene and social distancing requirements. You must follow the rules in place on COVID-19 rules | NSW Government.

Can on-farm livestock sales, saleyards and food and fibre auctions operate?

An exemption was made to the Public Health Order regarding COVID-19 by the Minister for Health and Medical Research on 16th August 2021. These are:

  • An auction house in the Regional NSW can be open to members of the public for the purpose of an auction that is for food supply, livestock, fibre or crops.
  • A person can conduct an auction in the Regional NSW area that is open to members of the public for the purpose of an auction that is for food supply, livestock, fibre or crops.
  • A person can participate in an outdoor public gathering in the Regional NSW area for the purpose of an auction that is for food supply, livestock, fibre or crops.

Businesses should look at ways to minimise crowds and encourage the use of online platforms, or other arrangements for buying.

If an auction can be postponed, this should be considered.

We encourage the use of scheduled viewings to manage on-site numbers and reduce the risks of COVID-19 transmission.

Importantly, it is still expected that COVID-19 management requirements are adhered to by businesses conducting the auction as well as auction participants:

  • Businesses conducting an auction must have a COVID Business Safety Plan, the business registered as COVID Safe with this plan implemented at all times
  • Consider making participants pre-register to control numbers and manage risks
  • Auction participants must follow mask wearing rules which currently includes both indoor and outdoor workplaces, and that access to hygiene and cleaning is provided
  • Auction participants must follow physical  distancing at all times, or follow appropriate gathering square meter rules for outdoor or indoor (if applicable) *Note – Gathering exemptions have been granted for farms, commercial fishing vessels, saleyards, and food supply and fibre and crop auctions
  • Auction participants must follow check in requirements for all workers, visitors, contractors, etc. If the NSW Government QR code is not possible, business owners must be able to provide a full register of visitors as either an excel or csv file, within 4 hours if requested by authorities. This should be held onto for 30 days.
  • If the business is in LGAs of concern, you must follow the rules applied to worker testing and their movements.
  • Ensure auction participants are aware they must not attend if feeling unwell
  • Ensure auction participants seek testing immediately if unwell and isolate until they have a negative result
  • Follow instructions if the auction business is linked with a COVID-19 case

As regulations may change, all individuals should regularly check public health orders to ensure they understand their obligations. For further information, visit COVID-19 rules | NSW Government

Can I travel out of a lockdown area to care for livestock I own or manage?

As a livestock owner, you have a legal obligation to the welfare of those animals under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act. ​

If you own or manage livestock on a rural property and need to undertake practices to ensure their welfare, you can do so following the Public Health Order rules including isolating and stay-at-home orders if travelling from a COVID-affected area. This includes always wearing a mask, always following social distancing requirements, and avoiding any contact with others and whilst travelling, taking the most practicable route and only stop for essential purposes. If you are a business, you should have an Agriculture COVID Safe Business Plan. Animal owners should, as much as possible, make local arrangements for the care of their animals and avoid travelling.

If you have any symptoms, do not travel. You are also required to follow testing requirements for workers who leave the restricted movement areas. You should check the rules frequently for changes. Permits will be required to leave the Greater Sydney area from 12.01am Saturday 21st August 2021 on the service NSW website.

You should travel with evidence of the property you are travelling to. This may include a Local Government rates notice, Local Land Services rate notice or some form of primary producer declaration or business document.

Can I leave home to get my pet groomed?

Owners of vulnerable pets that require grooming have a reasonable excuse to leave their residences to obtain pet grooming services. The pet is vulnerable if its hair has started to matt.

A pet owner who lives in LGA's of concern can take their vulnerable pet to a salon in their affected LGA or obtain the services of a mobile pet groomer who lives in the same LGA.

Can I provide pet grooming services?

Pet groomers may continue to provide services following all COVID safety arrangements.

People who live in LGA's of concern can only leave their residence to attend work outside of their LGA if they are an authorised worker. An authorised worker includes a worker working in animal welfare, care and accommodation services but excludes pet grooming unless there is an immediate animal welfare reason.

‘Immediate animal welfare reason’ appears to require that the animal requiring grooming is either currently suffering (e.g. matted hair causing pain) or about to suffer (e.g. matted hair starting to cause irritation) unless the pet is groomed immediately.

Can I leave home to take my pet to the vet?

Owners of pets that require veterinary treatment have a reasonable excuse to leave their residences to obtain veterinary services.

A pet owner who lives in LGA’s of concern, can take their pet to a veterinary practice in their affected LGA. If the LGA does not have a veterinary practice, they should seek services from the nearest possible vet practice.

Caring for Horses 

Individuals should seek their own advice based on their individual circumstances and should regularly check the Public Health Orders which are subject to regular amendment.

Everyone must comply with all aspects of the Public Health Order, including rules regarding the wearing of face masks, the limitations on the number of people at a venue or how any people may travel in a car and any travel declarations required. Having a reasonable excuse to leave your residence does not waive these requirements.

You should check if you are required to apply for a travel declaration before your travel.

There are different requirements depending on where you are travel to, or from. It is the travellers responsibility to follow the rules. Full information on travel declarations can be found at COVID-19 travel registration | NSW Government

Can I leave my residence and my local government area to feed and attend my horse? 

Yes. It is a reasonable excuse for a person to leave their place of residence to feed an animal or for animal welfare. Individual circumstance should be taken into account when deciding whether the reasonable excuse applies. For example, if the horse is at a boarding stable, then the manager of that centre may be responsible for attending to the horse’s food and welfare and there is no basis for you to leave your place of residence to care for your horse.

Can I get a letter stating that I am allowed to leave my area to care for my horses, just in case I do get pulled up by the police? 

It is a matter for the individual to determine whether their circumstances permit them to be away from their residence and to leave their local LGA. A person may leave the person’s place of residence if necessary, to feed an animal or for animal welfare. You may need to demonstrate to the Police that your reasonable excuse is genuine. If you are required to obtain a travel declaration, you must follow the requirements, including suitable evidence.

Can I remove a horse from a stable for exercise of the horse? 

A person may leave the person’s place of residence if necessary for animal welfare. This includes making sure that a confined horse has adequate exercise which may include, riding, lunging or releasing them into a large yard for at least one hour a day.

It is up to each person to consider their individual circumstance when deciding whether the reasonable excuse applies. For example, if the horse is at a boarding stable, then the manager of that centre may be responsible for attending to the horse, or it may be that the horse can be exercised in a way that doesn’t require them to be removed from the boarding stable.

I want to exercise by riding my horse. Where can I do that? 

For people who reside in stay at home areas (Regional NSW and the parts of Greater Sydney that are not Areas of Concern)- A resident may leave their residence to undertake exercise within their LGA, or no more than 5km from their place of residence if the place where the activity is undertaken is outside their LGA.

For people who reside in Areas of Concern - A resident in an Area of Concern may only leave their place of residence for exercise (not outdoor recreation) if the exercise is undertaken within 5km of their residence. 

I want to ride my horse for outdoor recreation. Where can I do that? 

For people who reside in stay at home areas (Regional NSW and the parts of Greater Sydney that are not Areas of Concern)-  A resident may leave their residence to undertake outdoor recreation within their LGA, or no more than 5km from their place of residence if the place where the activity is undertaken is outside their LGA.

For people who reside in Areas of Concern - A resident in an Area of Concern may not leave their place of residence for outdoor recreation. 

Can I move a horse out of stables to an agistment and then later move it back to the stables? 

If it is necessary for the welfare of the horse, a person may leave their place of residence to move the horse as needed.

Is it necessary to use a transport company to move a horse between an agistment property and stables? 

If the transporting of the horse is to ensure its welfare, then a horse transport company is not required as the person has a reasonable excuse to leave their place of residence.

If the movement of the horse is not for welfare purposes, then the excuse would not be reasonable, and the resident should consider engaging the services of a qualified horse transport company.

Is maintaining a show jumper, show horse or competition horse in competitive condition necessary for its welfare during lockdown? 

Exercise of horse that is necessary for its welfare is considered to be different to exercise of a horse to keep it in competitive condition. In most cases the level of exercise required to keep a horse in competitive condition is over and above the level necessary for its current welfare. Being away from your residence to maintain horses in competitive condition (i.e. at a level above that necessary for its current welfare) is not a reasonable excuse to be away from your residence.

Can businesses that transport horses continue to operate? 

Yes. They will need to comply with all rules regarding leaving and re-entering Greater Sydney and Areas of concern.

Can I leave my local government area to obtain goods and services that are necessary for the welfare of my horse? 

For people who reside in stay at home areas (Regional NSW and the parts of Greater Sydney that are not Areas of Concern) – People have a reasonable excuse to leave home to obtain goods and services for their household needs, including for pet horses. They must be obtained locally, unless not reasonably available locally. (locally means— (a) within the local government area in which the person resides, or (b) if within another local government area— (i) no further than 5 kilometres from the person’s place of residence, and (ii) not in an area of concern.)

For people who reside in Areas of Concern – People have a reasonable excuse to leave home to obtain goods and services for their household needs, including for pet horses. They must be obtained— (i) from within 5 kilometres of the place of residence, or (ii) if they are not reasonably available in the 5 kilometre radius—from another place in the area of concern, or (iii) if they are not reasonably available in the area of concern—from the closest place to the place of residence that they are reasonably available.

Can equine body workers continue to provide therapeutic services? 

For people who reside in stay at home areas (Regional NSW and the parts of Greater Sydney that are not Areas of Concern) - A person may leave the person’s place of residence for work if it is not reasonably practicable for the person to work at the place of residence. Individuals should check if they may require additional authorisation to work at other premises.

If a person needs to travel further than 50km from Greater Sydney to carry out work, then they must follow the rules required and obtain a travel declaration. If the worker needs to travel into an LGA of Concern, they will need to obtain a travel declaration.

For people who reside in Areas of Concern - A person whose place of residence is in an area of concern may leave their residence for work but must not leave the area of concern for the purposes of work unless the person is an authorised worker. Authorised workers include persons that provide animal welfare, care and accommodation services (excluding pet grooming unless there is an immediate animal welfare reason)