Ethical animal production and animal welfare

South Australia has legislation and systems to ensure the welfare of animals.

Consumer awareness and demand is increasing for products from animals that have been treated appropriately and with consideration for their needs.

Animal welfare impacts the growth, reproduction and survival of animals. It also has an impact on the quality of animal products.

Animal welfare system in South Australia

In South Australia, the Animal Welfare legislation is committed to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation. The legislation protects all vertebrate animals (with the exclusion of fish and humans), whether they are native, feral, owned or wild.

The Animal Welfare Act 1985 (the Act) within South Australia is administered by the Department of Environment, Water (DEW). This department provides advice on the Act and animal welfare issues to all levels of government, non-government organisations and the general public. Animals in South Australia must be treated in accordance with the Act and the subordinate Animal Welfare Regulations 2012.

The Act applies equally to all animals regardless of their value or status (i.e. threatened or pest species). Compliance with the requirements of the Act is mandatory.

Under Section 13 of the Act, anyone who ill-treats an animal is guilty of an offence. The Act lists the types of actions which constitute ill-treatment. This Act is enforced by the RSPCA, DEW wardens, livestock animal health officers, biosecurity officers and the police.

RSPCA Inspectors are appointed by the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation and work within their powers provided under the Act.

If an alleged cruelty report is received and investigated, inspectors may take any of the following actions:

  • offer advice and assistance to the owner
  • issue a warning letter, or for some offences, issue an expiation notice
  • issue the owner with an animal welfare notice which requires the owner to take action and follow up with spot checks
  • seize the animal/s
  • prosecute the alleged offender.

PIRSA and research organisations are undertaking a number of programs to improve animal welfare and reflect the social responsibility of the food industry.


Animal welfare Codes of practice

Animal welfare regulations contain a schedule of the Codes of practice which apply to livestock and to those people who own or manage them. Codes of practice cover key aspects including production, transport and processing. Compliance with the requirements of these codes is mandatory.

Animal welfare Codes of practice for producers of:

Page Last Reviewed: 31 Jul 2016
Top of page