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Mandatory pain relief for painful procedures and hastening moves toward breeding horn-free cattle are the very least the cattle industry must do to be sustainable and maintain public trust and its international relationships.

That’s the strong response from the RSPCA today following the broadcast of horrific footage captured on multiple Western Australian cattle stations.

The footage shows stockpersons punching and kicking cattle and jumping on a downed animal, as well as dogs being allowed to attack restrained animals, and calves and cows being left to die slowly and painfully in the yards.

In addition, the footage shows ear tags being ripped out of ears, incompetent euthanasia and, if that wasn’t enough, horrific dehorning of cattle.

“The animals being dehorned are clearly in extreme pain and distress – it’s absolutely harrowing to watch,” said RSPCA Australia Senior Scientific Officer (Farm Animals) Melina Tensen.

“Australians will be shocked and horrified to learn that dehorning cattle up to 12 months of age without pain relief is routine and completely legal on these large rangeland cattle stations.

“We have standards that are supposed to protect the welfare of cattle, but since these were endorsed by state and territory Agriculture Ministers in 2016, only South Australia has made them a legal requirement.

“And those standards still allow cattle up to 6 months of age (and in the case of rangeland cattle, up to 12 months) to be dehorned without pain relief – that’s simply not good enough,” said Ms Tensen.

“The industry must move more quickly to breeding polled (hornless) cattle, that don’t require dehorning.

“And, in the interim, the cattle industry need to commit to mandatory pain relief for dehorning and other painful procedures. We’re encouraged by the cattle industry’s commitment to achieving 100% pain relief use by 2025.

“The outright animal abuse shown by these workers is appalling, and completely unacceptable.

“People working with animals need to be competent – they need to have the skills to carry out the job effectively, but also the right attitude and behaviour towards animals in their care,” said Ms Tensen.

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