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Is tail docking in dairy cattle legal?

Article ID: 272
Last updated: 26 Jun, 2015
Revision: 6
Views: 10906

 State

 Yes/No 

 Name of relevant Act/special conditions and requirements

 ACT

 Yes

No express prohibition on the docking of cattle in ACT legislation, including the Animal Welfare Act 1992 (ACT) and the Animal Welfare Regulation 2001 (ACT). 

The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Cattle 1993 is an advisory code approved (but not mandatory) under the Act. The Code provides that tail docking should be performed only where necessary for udder health or when otherwise prescribed by a veterinarian.

 NSW

 Yes

Regulated by the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (NSW) and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulation 2012 (NSW).

Section 12 of the Act provides that a layperson may dock the tail of a calf provided:

  •      the calf is less than six months of age; and
  •      the procedure complies with the Regulations.

Regulation 20 of the Regulations require that:

  •      the docking is necessary;
  •      the docking is on the advice of a veterinary practitioner; and
  •      the docking is to treat an injury or disease of the calf.

It is a condition of the docking of the tail of a female calf less than 6 months old that the tail is left long enough to cover the vulva unless it is necessary, on the advice of a veterinary practitioner, to cut the tail shorter so as to treat the injury or disease concerned.

Docking the tail of any cattle 6 months of age or older is only allowed where:

  •     the person doing so is a veterinary practitioner; and

the docking is necessary to treat an injury or disease of the animal.  

 NT

 Yes

No express prohibition on the docking of cattle in NT legislation, including the Animal Welfare Act 2000 (NT).

The Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Cattle 1993 is an advisory code approved (but not mandatory) under the Act. The Code provides that tail docking should be performed only where necessary for udder health or when otherwise prescribed by a veterinarian.

 QLD

 No

Section 27 of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001 (Qld) prohibits a layperson from docking the tail of cattle.

A veterinary surgeon must not perform the procedure unless they reasonably consider the docking is in the interests of the animal’s welfare.  

 SA

 No

Regulation 6 of the Animal Welfare Regulations 2012 (SA) prohibit a person from docking the tail of cattle without having a veterinary surgeon certify in writing that the procedure is necessary for control of disease.

 TAS

 Yes

The Animal Welfare Act 1993 (Tas) does not explicitly refer to cattle tail docking.

 VIC

 Yes

There is no prohibition on the docking of cattle under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (Vic) and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Regulations 2008 (Vic).

The Code of accepted farming practice for the welfare of cattle (2001) is an advisory code under the Act. In order to comply with the Code tail docking:

  •      should be performed only where necessary for udder health or when otherwise prescribed by a         registered veterinarian;
  •      should only be undertaken on young female cattle, under 6 months of age;
  •      should be undertaken with analgesia or anaesthesia when performed surgically; and
  •      should leave sufficient tail length to cover the vulva.

 WA

 Yes

The Animal Welfare Act 2002 (WA) does not explicitly refer to docking of cattle.

The Animal Welfare (General) Regulations 2003 (WA) adopt the Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals – Cattle as a relevant code of practice under the Act.


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Also read
document Why are the tails of dairy cows docked?

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