Update on Ohio Livestock Care Standards

Board nears completion of standards for farm animal care

The Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board accepted an enormous task nearly a year ago when charged with the responsibility of developing rules for the care and well-being of livestock in Ohio.  Since that time, the board has proposed numerous standards on topics ranging from euthanasia to housing.  To date, two sets of the board’s standards have completed the rulemaking process and are now effective.  Several others await either final approval by the board or review by the Ohio legislature’s Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review (JCARR).  The following summarizes the board’s progress.

1.  Livestock care standards developed by the board that became effective on January 20, 2011 include:

  • Euthanasia.  The standard outlines acceptable euthanasia methods for each species of livestock, and provides guidelines for use of each method of euthanasia.  See the final regulation in the Ohio Administrative Code, Section 901:12-1.
  • Civil penalties.  The rule establishes penalties and a notification procedure for violations of the livestock care standards.  Violations range from minor–punishable by a penalty of up to $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses within 60 months of the first–to major–punished by a civil penalty of $1,000 to $5,000 for a first offense, and $5,000 to $10,000 for each subsequent offense within 60 months of the first.  A major violation is one that imperils the animal’s life or causes protracted “disfigurement,” “health impairment,” or “loss or impairment of the function of a limb or bodily organ.”  See the final rule at OAC Section 901:12-2.

2.  Livestock care standards submitted by the board and awaiting final review by JCARR:

  • General considerations for the care and welfare of livestock.  Establishes general management requirements for all livestock, including  feed and water, management, health and transportation.  Key provisions in this standard:
    • Housing, equipment and handling facilities must minimize bruises and injuries.
    • Restraints must be minimal. 
    • Handling devices must be humane.  Electric prods are permissible if hand held, battery powered and 50 volts or less, but may not be used on poultry, equine, alpacas, llamas, calves weighing less than 200 pounds, pigs weighing less than 35 pounds, on sensitive areas or on non-ambulatory disabled animals.    
    • Malicious or reckless throwing, dragging or dropping of an animal is prohibited, but minimal dragging  of a disabled animal may occur in certain circumstances. 
    • Picking up or carrying an animal by its ears or tail is prohibited, as is pulling an animal’s legs in positions or directions that cause distress to the animal.
    • Animals must be monitored regularly and steps must be taken when evidence of disease, injury, or parasites is present. 
    • A “Veterinary-Client-Patient-Relationship” is necessary to obtain and administer prescriptive drugs to livestock. 
    • Health and medical practices must be performed humanely. 
  • Disabled and Distressed Livestock.  The proposed rule sets forth standards of care for distressed and disabled livestock, including disabled “downer” livestock, which the rule refers to as “non-ambulatory disabled” animals.  Action must be taken to address an animal’s situation, either by caring for, monitoring, treating, transporting, slaughtering or euthanizing the animal.  The rule prohibits loading a disabled, non-ambulatory animal for transport to a non-terminal market or collection facility.  If a disabled or distressed animal is at a non-terminal market or collection facility and there is no option for immediate sale, standards of care must be provided or the animal must be released or euthanized.  The owner must keep records of treatments, medications and withdrawal times. 

3.  Standards in draft form and currently open to public comment include:

  • Standards for Individual Species.   In addition to the general consideration standards for all livestock, the board has proposed individual standards for goats, sheep, turkeys, poultry, swine, beef, dairy, veal, equine, alpacas and llamas.  The individual standards address unique needs and issues regarding feed and water, management and transportation for each specie.  Key issues addressed in the individual standards include:
    • Providing newborns with colustrum or colustrum replacement within the first 24 hours.
    • Standards for pen sizes, housing materials, lighting, air circulation, breeding and birthing pens and outdoor pens.  Of interest in these standards:
      • Restrictions on the use of gestation crates for swine after December 31, 2025.
      • For new farms not in existence on the rule’s effective date, prohibition of conventional poultry battery cages that do not provide areas for nesting, scratching, perching or bathing.
    • Management of groups of animals.
    • Standards for tethering, dehorning, castrating, shearing, induced molting, tail docking and treatment of tusks, beaks, teeth, hooves and toes.  Of particular interest in these standards:
      • Restrictions on tethering and requirements for group housing of veal calves after December 31, 2017.
      • Beginning January 1, 2018, tail docking of dairy cattle may occur only if medically necessary and performed by a licensed veterinarian.

To review the standards and the status of the work by the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, visit this website.

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One response to “Update on Ohio Livestock Care Standards

  1. Pingback: Sunday Links | Food and Agriculture Law Blog

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