As the mercury rises beyond 40 degrees today, spare a thought for the farm animals in paddocks across the region.
Scenic Rim woman Morika Elek and the Gold Coast’s Linda Aldridge claim the heat has devastating consequences for livestock kept outdoors and the pair are leading calls for mandatory legislation to force owners of farm animals in the sunshine state to provide adequate shelter.
Ms Aldridge recently launched a petition on the Queensland Parliament’s website on behalf of the ‘Animals Need Shade’ campaign urging the government to insert mandatory requirements into the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001
Despite the Agriculture Department acknowledging the impact of heat stress on livestock and recommending shelter and shade, owners are under no legal obligation.
The activists would like to see a definition for ‘adequate shelter’ included in the Act and penalties introduced for owners who fail to comply.
Since the petition was posted on August 27, 1329 people have signed their names.
Ms Elek said the sight of farmed animals including horses, cattle, sheep, goats and other stock standing exposed and suffering in open paddocks from the extreme heat of the sun was unfortunately all too common and she urged Queenslanders to support the petition.
She said studies showed dairy cows looked for shade at 25 degrees and temperatures in many parts of Queensland averaged 29 degrees, and were expected to increase,.
She said shelter would allow animals to cope with climatic extremes and should be a basic animal welfare requirement.
“I remember how hot it was last summer in Canungra, Beaudesert and Boonah, and how I couldn’t stand in the sun for more than five minutes without feeling the brunt of the shocking heat,” she said.
“The heat temperature of the ground without vegetation or grass cover is incredibly hot, which means it is too hot for livestock to lie down.”
Elek said dairy cows in locations without shade were at greater risk of having heat stress impact on their health and wellbeing.
She said research also showed a higher mortality rate in calves subject to heat in their first week of life.
“They suffer even more than humans,” she said.
“Together our voices will help stop the suffering and change the laws.”
The campaign in Queensland mirrors a movement underway in New South Wales, with the announcement on January 30 by Greens MP and Animal Welfare spokesperson Cate Faehrmann of a plan to make it mandatory in that state for livestock to have access to shade.
As part of the proposal, the Greens are proposing legislation to make it mandatory that livestock have access to shade and a $30 million transition package for farmers to receive up to $5,000 towards cost of putting in shade structures, as well as funding for planting and fencing off shade trees and shelter belts incorporated within wider revegetation plans.
The Animals Need Shade petition can be found at https://www.parliament.qld.gov.au/work-of-assembly/petitions/petition-details?id=2988
The petition closes on February 27.