LWCC: Livestock Welfare Coordinating Committee
The LWCC which stands for humane livestock production and has been in existence since 1978 and had functioned as a Committee of the previous Meat Board, until the Board’s final closure in 2002. Administrative functions are now financed b the RMIF.
The objective is to take the necessary actions to ensure humane and responsible handling of livestock from production to slaughter. While not an animal rights organisation it promotes welfare of livestock by drafting, approval and distribution of informative material to farmers (commercial and emerging), transporters of livestock, operators of sale-yards and vending sites as well as abattoirs. The LWCC encourages practical research projects, observations, investigations and desk research.
It also advises Government on issues of importance regarding livestock welfare and related policy matters. About 15 codes, guidelines and manuals are already in existence or in the process of being developed for the livestock industry. The LWCC and its members, both individuals and organisations are not politically or religion driven.
THE START OF THE LWCC
The founding of LWCC in 1978 came about as follows: Dr. Michael Levien, Chairman of the Livestock Animal Welfare Association, neither in his private capacity nor as an official of an animal welfare organisation was permitted access to the Pretoria abattoir, so he surreptitiously (and illegally) gained access via an unguarded gate to the adjacent Railways Yard. There he would take photographs with a telescopic lens of the very frequent acts of total insensitivity to the welfare of the livestock in their charge. Abattoir personnel, all too frequently, callously permitted animals to be subjected to conditions and procedures which permitted totally avoidable, and often very severe suffering, stress and even cruelty. There were occasions when even deliberate cruelty was perpetrated. These photographs of reprehensible acts and unacceptable conditions were offered to the editors of local print media. Needless to say they were enthusiastically accepted and published. Eventually, the General Manager of the Meat Board, Dr, Lombard demanded that the chairman of “LAWA” attend a meeting with him. Dr. Lombard commenced the meeting by saying “Dr. Levien, this damn nonsense has got to stop!” Dr Levien replied to with the words: “Yes, sir, I agree. This damn nonsense has to stop!” After a few moments of silence, Dr. Lombard enquired, “What do you mean?” The answer was: “You cannot stop me from exposing the blatant cruelties and avoidable sufferings that livestock in transport are being subjected to or in the abattoir. The animal welfare domain is too entrenched and supported for them to be quietened. We are too strong. You cannot defeat us. But, I am not so naïve as to think that concern for the humane treatment and handling of slaughter animals in South Africa will make the whole of South Arica, vegetarian! You, the meat industry, are too strong! So I suggest we stop fighting each other. Neither of us can win such a fight!” “After a few moments Dr. Lombard thoughtfully enquired: “So, what do you suggest?” Dr Levien replied: “I suggest that, instead of our fruitlessly fighting each other, let us join forces and fight together. It can be a ‘Win/Win’ solution. From the industry, your needs can be profited by the scientifically established fact that the more humanely, within practical bounds, a slaughter animal is handled and slaughtered, the better will be the quality of the meat as well as its ’keeping quality’ (shelf-life.) The meat industry will gain in profitability. Similarly, animal welfare will be satisfied that slaughter animals will be subjected to less suffering stress and pain: hence a gain for animal welfare: hence a ‘win/win solution On agreeing that this made sense Dr. Lombard enquired as to how this could be implemented. ‘LAWA’ put the suggestion to him that a Liaison committee consisting of both elements, the meat industry and animal welfare be created. After a brief discussion it was mutually agreed that such a committee should consist of, as an initial minimum, the Meat Board, the South African Abattoir Corporation, veterinary services, animal welfare and Government representation. Dr. Lombard immediately phoned and got agreement from representatives of the various bodies proposed. Dr. Lombard proposed the name Livestock Welfare Coordinating Committee….and the Livestock Welfare Coordinating Committee here and then came into existence and has, not only survived, but has thrived in respect, effectiveness and success in its endeavours to promote the profitability and concerns of the livestock industries as well as the jointly promoted improvement in the welfare of the farm animals in South Africa. In addition, by the members of the two domains working together in mutual respect, interest and effort, a remarkable melding of conflicting procedures, activities and concerns has not only succeeded in bringing into being a better understanding and tolerance for the apparently divergent aims and objects but a working amalgamation of the two sectors into an organisation that has achieved an overall improvement in the operations of the entire livestock industry. Initially the LWCC concentrated on activities around abattoirs and has succeeded in achieving a significant reduction in the amount of pain, stress and suffering of slaughter animals in transport, handling and slaughter. Particularly in regard to cattle, this has been estimated to be a ninety% (90%) improvement! What is quite remarkable is the extent in which such divergent elements such as representatives of organisations involved in the killing of animals can work meaningfully in cooperation with NGOs representing animal welfare dedicated to the “saving of life” and the wellbeing of animals can work hand-in-glove together with the common aim of reducing the suffering, pain and stress of the slaughter animal..
- The overall objective is to promote the responsible, humane and compassionate use and treatment of livestock in every phase of the production process.
- Identification of all organisations involved in livestock production and processing, from farms to slaughter.
- Involvement of these organisations in promoting livestock welfare.
- Defining terms to be used in assessing livestock welfare.
- Developing standards, norms, codes and training manuals that promote or ensure livestock welfare.
- Promoting the institution of adequate and effective legislation to ensure that livestock welfare can be monitored satisfactorily and enforced.
- Encouraging all involved in the entire process of livestock keeping and processing to adopt suitable practices that support humane treatment and protect livestock welfare.
- Involvement in any activities and processes that affect the welfare of livestock or promote the objective of the LWCC.
Postnet Suite 30; Private Bag X1; PRETORIA; Gauteng; SOUTH AFRICA; 0041
Contact Person: Prof Gareth Bath