Statement from RSPCA NSW regarding seizure of cattle at Binnaway

On Monday 25 November 2019, we commenced seizing approximately 1000-1200 head of cattle on five properties across 4807 hectares located in Binnaway, NSW following orders issued by the Deputy Director General of the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

In 2018, we received six animal cruelty complaints dating back to 21 June 2018 alleging serious welfare concerns in relation to approximately 1500 head of cattle. Our inspectors visited the properties on 10 occasions between June 2018 and July 2019, along with Local Land Services NSW District Veterinarians. Legally enforceable written directions were issued in relation to destocking throughout that period; however the owner did not comply with these directions within a suitable time frame, which seriously affected the welfare of the animals remaining on the property.

On 27 August 2019, in accordance with Part 2B of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTAA), a stock welfare panel was established to address the matter. A stock welfare panel offers expert veterinary attention, advice and a structured process through which stockowners can address any significant animal welfare concerns that have been identified. They are considered a necessary step when early intervention strategies fail to improve the welfare of affected animals. The stock welfare panel was convened by four separate bodies, including a member from RSCPA NSW, a veterinarian from the Local Land Services, a representative of the Department of Primary Industry and a representative of the NSW Farmers Association. Representatives from the Rural Crime Prevention Team also provided support at each inspection conducted by the stock welfare panel.

Section 24P (of POCTAA) instructions were served on the person in charge of the cattle on 27 September 2019, which required him to manage, feed and adequately care for the cattle. The instructions warned that failure to comply would result in the stock being seized and sold.

Throughout the stock welfare panel process the owner did not comply with instructions issued for the feeding and management of the animals. The panel determined that since the animal welfare concerns were brought to the attention of authorities, approximately 800 cattle had died, and the remaining cattle were found to be in distress or at risk of becoming distressed. The person in charge failed to comply with the instructions, and as a result, a seizure was recommended by the stock welfare panel and ordered by the NSW Department of Primary Industries. The person in charge was alerted to this being a possible outcome and was made aware of the process. As a result, on 20 November 2019, on the recommendation of the panel, the Deputy Director General of the NSW Department of Primary Industries issued orders for the seizure and sale of the remaining cattle. This followed months of alternative strategies undertaken by the panel to help support the farmer and improve the welfare of the cattle.

As the enforcement agency for this stock welfare panel, RSPCA NSW is obliged to follow the directions of the NSW Department of Primary Industries in this matter. The seizure operation has commenced and is expected to take all week. It is a complex and resource-intensive operation.

NSW Department of Primary industries administers the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1979 (POCTAA) but is not an enforcement agency. NSW Department of Primary Industries has the power to authorise the establishment of a stock welfare panel.

The money from the sale of the cattle, minus the transport and veterinary treatment costs incurred in connection with the seizure and the sale will be distributed back to the farmer.

We work closely with many farmers across the state, assisting with stock management plans, advice and support, including providing connections to farmers for veterinarians and mental health assistance, sourcing feed, assisting in destocking and manning stock welfare panels. Difficult decisions about whether to feed, agist or sell animals must be made sooner rather than later. Once an animal’s welfare is compromised and they are no longer ‘fit to load’, options are severely limited. This is why early intervention is essential. In this case, the cattle on the property were assessed to have poor body score conditions, ranging from scores of fat 1 (at risk), high risk 1, and high risk 2. While decisions are difficult in times of crisis like this, no animal should ever suffer.

If you are wanting to help farmers in need, there are a lot of specialised charities helping out on the ground, including Rural Aid, Australian Red Cross, and Drought Angels which are helping to provide much needed food and water. Everyone has their part to play in tackling this disaster, and every little bit of support from the community helps. If you or someone you know is struggling to cope with the drought, there are lots of services available to you, such as Headspace and The Salvation Army.

Read more about managing farm animals during drought and who to contact for support or advice:…/animal-welfare-during-dry…

Warning: graphic images. You can find imagery of the cattle here:

If you have any concerns for the welfare of an animal, no matter the circumstances, we encourage you to contact us on 1300 278 3589 so we can help.

For more information, or an interview with a RSPCA NSW spokesperson, please contact RSPCA NSW Media: 0488 905 353 or