Victoria’s peak farm body says a proposal to force farmers to provide a minimum amount of shade and shelter for their livestock is unnecessary and “totally impractical”.

Key points:

  • Farmers reject calls to legislate animal shelter
  • MP Andy Meddick made the call in parliament yesterday
  • He brought a live lamb into the chamber

Member for Western Victoria Andy Meddick raised eyebrows this week when he brought a lamb into parliament to make his case that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act should be expanded to make shade and shelter mandatory.

Mr Meddick said more than 15 million lambs die from exposure each year, although a CSIRO report puts this figure at closer to 10 million.

While the Act already makes it an offence for an owner or someone in charge of livestock to not provide proper and sufficient shelter, Mr Meddick said this didn’t go far enough.

But Agriculture Minister Mary-Anne Thomas, Nationals Leader Peter Walsh and the Victorian Farmers Federation all said the legislation wasn’t necessary.

‘Definitely not’

Steve Harrison is president of the VFF Livestock Group and a farmer at Giffard West, in Gippsland.

He said farmers were best placed to make decisions about shade and shelter, and didn’t need to be forced by authorities.

“Farmers have to be more pro-active on selling our story; to police where we put shelter is … totally impractical.”

Mr Harrison said farmers were getting better and better at providing shelter for their livestock.

“It comes back to 20 or 30 years ago when Landcare was implemented and farmers have been proactive on the shelter front [since then],” he said.

Farmer Steve Harrison standing in front of a shearing shed.

Giffard West farmer Steve Harrison says legislating animal shelter standards is unnecessary and “totally impractical”. (

ABC Rural: Isabella Pittaway

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“The money is secondary, the last thing any farmer wants to see is lambs or shorn sheep tucked up in a corner, so the trees offer shade and shelter and I have tin walls in areas where I cannot grow trees.”

‘Farmers can do better’

Andy Meddick, a member of the Animal Justice Party, acknowledged that some farmers were doing a good job of providing shelter, but said others weren’t.

“Farmers generally speaking are looking after their animals, but they can do better,” he said.

“Driving through my electorate of Western Victoria, there is a vast difference between those doing the right thing and those that are not.”

Andy Meddick is a vegan who is openly opposed to meat consumption, but said he accepted that livestock production was here to stay.

“So in the meantime I have an obligation as a person who’s been elected to parliament on an animal protection platform, to make sure the lives of all animals are conducted in the best possible ways.”

Farmers reject animal shelter call
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