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Dairy Goat Standards

Dairy Goat Standards

Dairy Goat Standards (pdf)

The Certified Animal Welfare Approved by AGW (AWA) seal is a hard-earned badge of difference and demonstrates the farmer’s commitment to the care of their animals, the land and the local community. Farmers in this programme will be distinguished by a humane and conscientious attitude towards the animals in their care as evidenced by physical audit and development of detailed plans and records of farm practices.

Farmers in the programme agree to a minimum of one visit a year from A Greener World (AGW) staff or agents, with the possibility of additional visits if deemed necessary, to confirm compliance with the standards during various seasons and to allow observation of animals in different phases of life. Participation in the programme is on an annual basis and must be renewed each year.

The premise of the AWA standards is that animals must be allowed to behave naturally. The following standards allow animals the opportunity to perform natural and instinctive behaviours essential to their health and well-being. Provisions are made to ensure social interaction, comfort, and physical and psychological well-being.

The AWA programme is voluntary. The standards do not supersede national government legislation.

AGW recommends that farmers have the Guide to Understanding Our Standards and Standards and Programme Definitions documents at hand while reading these standards.


1.0.1 The individual or entity seeking AWA status for their livestock must own and have management control of the animals.

1.0.2 The individual or entity seeking AWA status must produce a livestock product for sale or trade that is eligible to carry the AWA seal.

Note: If the primary market is selling/trading livestock as pets, animals for show animals or pack animals or marketing meat from animals slaughtered at non-compliant abattoirs the farm cannot be AWA. See also section 14.1 if the primary market is breeding animals.

1.0.3 The AWA Standards must be met for all the animals or birds of the species for which use of the label is sought. Farmers using “split” or “dual” systems, in which some animals or birds of one species are simultaneously kept in systems that do not meet AWA Standards must have a plan that demonstrates clear separation and traceability of operations. The plan must address: Physical Separation Financial Separation Operational Separation

Note: A farm is not required to seek approval for all the species they manage simultaneously. If a farm has split or dual systems of the same species and cannot demonstrate clear traceability, AGW maintains the right to refuse to audit or certify the farm.

1.0.4 AWA is a birth to slaughter programme. Meat sold under the AWA label or logo must come from animals that have been certified as being raised to AWA standards and slaughtered using a method and at a location that has received written approval from AGW. If the farm does not intend to market meat from some or all of their animals under the AWA label, but owns or has control of an animal when it is slaughtered, the slaughter process must meet the AWA Slaughter Guidelines for Red Meat.

1.0.5 The certified farm may participate in networks, co-operatives or marketing groups in order to market livestock products as AWA as long as each member is audited as meeting all other requirements listed in these standards.

Note: If milk or eggs are pooled, they may only be represented for sale as AWA if all producers are certified as such. Similarly, if milk, eggs or meat from several producers are sold under a single brand, the brand may only represent the products as AWA if all producers are certified.

1.0.6   All those working with animals must be competent to carry out the tasks required of them.

Note: This standard applies to contract and temporary workers as well as full time employees and family members.


2.0 Breeds and Origin– General Standards

2.0.1 Breeds and strains must be chosen with consideration of their ability to thrive in the prevailing climatic conditions of the farm, in pasture-based, free range, outdoor systems.

2.0.2 Cloned or genetically engineered animals are prohibited.

Note: This includes the use of cloned or genetically engineered breeding stock, the offspring of clones or genetically engineered animals and semen from cloned or genetically engineered animals.

2.0.3 Breeding replacements may come from farms that are not certified by AWA but must be of a suitable breed or type for pasture-based production under these standards.

2.0.4 A record of the source, date of purchase and number of breeding animals must be kept.

2.0.5 Recommended Wherever possible the farm should run a closed herd.

Note: A closed herd is one where no animals are brought onto the farm from external sources. Farms that do not have the genetic diversity or the expertise to achieve this should partner with experienced breeders to source their animals and learn more about selection criteria.

2.0.6 Rescue animals and animals sold as culls from other herds cannot be bought into the AWA herd.

Note: If an experienced farmer is asked to participate in rescue activities they must contact AGW as soon as possible and preferably before rescue animals arrive on farm to discuss their options. Rescue animals cannot be used or marketed as AWA.  

2.1 The Goats Breeding Herd

2.1.1 Laparoscopic or surgical artificial insemination is prohibited.

Note: Other forms of artificial insemination are permitted.

2.1.2 Not allocated.

2.1.3 The ability to successfully give birth independently must be taken into account in modifications over time to herd genetics.

Note: In order to score this standard, the auditor will assess the number of assisted births.

2.1.4 Embryo transfer and knowingly using the semen or progeny of animals produced by embryo transfer is prohibited.

Note: The prohibition on use of embryo transfer extends to a single generation. In other words, if the sire or dam of an animal was produced by embryo transfer then that animal cannot be bought into a AWA herd. New farms with existing livestock produced by embryo transfer should contact AGW for further advice.

2.1.5 In breeding programmes, attention must be paid to breed characteristics that will improve welfare such as udder health, susceptibility to lameness, and longevity.

2.2 Not Allocated

2.3 Animals Raised for Meat Production

2.3.1 Feeder or store goats to be raised for meat must only be obtained from AWA farms.


3.0 Health Planning and Preventative Management

Health and management planning increases both positive welfare and productivity.

3.0.1 Animal management must be focused on promoting health rather than treating disease.

3.0.2 Each farmer in the AWA programme must establish contact with a qualified expert such as a veterinarian. The qualified expert must be familiar with: The animals on the farm. The health requirements of the province. Methods to maximise animal health and welfare.

3.0.3 Recommended Each farmer should schedule regular preventative care visits by a qualified expert.

Note: AGW will provide support and assistance in achieving this standard.

3.0.4 A health plan emphasising prevention of illness or injury must be prepared in consultation with the farm’s qualified expert advisor to promote positive health and limit the need for treatment. It must address: Avoidance of physical, nutritional or environmental stress. Lameness. Climatic considerations. Vaccinations and other methods to cope with prevailing disease challenges. Biosecurity measures. Nutrition. Environmental impacts, including manure management and run-off. Pasture management. Exclusion of predators and control of rats and mice. Euthanasia. Mastitis. Johne’s disease. Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis.

Note: See Standard 11.1.2 for recommendations on review/update of plans.

3.0.5 If there is disease or known risk of disease on farm vaccines must be used.

Note: In order to help eliminate or reduce vulnerability to disease and the need for antibiotics at therapeutic levels, AGW encourages the appropriate use of vaccines on an individual or group basis for prevention of disease.

3.0.6 Action must be taken to address any causes of lameness.

3.0.7 Recommended Farmers should participate in recognised disease eradication programmes.

Note: AGW supports management to eliminate or reduce the risk of certain diseases and farmers are therefore encouraged to engage with programmes that seek to achieve this. Recognised schemes could be national or province-wide and could cover diseases such as scrapie or Johne’s.

This standard may become required for specific diseases when a funded and functioning programme is available.

3.0.8 Udders of dairy animals in milk must be kept clean.

3.1 Treatment

3.1.1 Any sick or injured animals on the farm must be treated immediately to minimise pain and distress. This must include veterinary treatment if required. Homeopathic, herbal or other non-antibiotic alternative treatments are preferred. If alternative treatments are not suitable or not effective or if a veterinarian has recommended antibiotic treatment, this must be administered. Withholding treatment in order to preserve an animal’s eligibility for market is prohibited.

Note: The discovery of untreated injured or ill animals may be grounds for removal from the programme.

3.1.2 The sub-therapeutic and/or non-therapeutic use of antibiotics, or any other medicines, to control or prevent disease or promote growth, is prohibited.

3.1.3 Growth hormones or the use of any other substances promoting weight gain are prohibited.

Note: Probiotics to promote positive health are permitted.

3.1.4 Non-therapeutic use of substances to induce oestrus (heat) is prohibited.

3.1.5 Records must be kept of the administration of veterinary medical products. Date of purchase. Name of product. Quantity purchased. Identity of the animals treated. Reason why animals were treated. Number of animals treated. Date when treatment started and finished. Withdrawal time.

3.1.6 Animals treated with an antibiotic must not be slaughtered to produce meat or produce milk for the AWA programme before a period of time has passed that is at least twice the licensed withdrawal period of the antibiotic used.

3.1.7 Animals treated with any off-label medication must not be slaughtered to produce meat or produce milk for the AWA programme until at least seven days after medication, or an alternative withdrawal as advised by a veterinarian. Animals must not be treated with any medications prohibited for food animal use.

3.1.8 Any surgical procedure not covered by these standards must be carried out by a veterinarian.

3.2 Parasites

3.2.1 The primary methods of preventing parasite infestations must be pasture management or rotation and bedding management and removal.

3.2.2 If prevention has not been effective, medicine regimens must be implemented to effectively control worms, lice, mange and any other parasites.

3.2.3 The use of organophosphates and other products with the same or a similar mode of action is prohibited.

Note: An exception to the standard above may be considered if other treatments have been shown to be ineffective. Please refer to the AGW paper on organophosphate and non-organophosphate type products.

3.2.4 Recommended Faecal samples to monitor internal parasite burdens should be taken at least annually.

3.2.5 If taken, faecal samples must be reviewed by a competent person.

3.2.6 Recommended Faecal samples should be taken during the growing season when animals are out on pasture.

3.2.7 Recommended FAMACHA should be used to monitor barber pole worm burdens.

3.3 Euthanasia

Note: When local or national authorities order the killing of a herd or if any large-scale euthanasia is about to take place to eradicate disease, AGW must be notified as soon as possible.

3.3.1 Animals experiencing pain or suffering from which they are unlikely to recover must be promptly euthanised on the farm in a manner that renders the animal immediately insensible to pain.

Note: Please contact AGW if further information on appropriate methods of euthanasia is required.

3.3.2 Euthanising goats in a way that causes unnecessary pain or suffering is prohibited. Prohibited methods include: Electrocution. Suffocation. Exsanguination without prior unconsciousness. Poison. Blow to the head by blunt instrument on kids older than seven days.

Note: A blow to the head by blunt instrument on kids younger than seven days of age is only acceptable if a preferred method is not readily available and the animal would suffer if euthanasia was not carried out immediately.


4.0 General Animal Management

4.0.1 Not allocated.

4.0.2 All dairy goats must be thoroughly inspected at least twice per 24 hours.

During the inspection the welfare of each animal must be observed. If any animal is not in a state of well-being, it must be cared for immediately and corrective measures must be taken. During a time of increased risk to health and welfare, inspections must be increased as necessary to protect the animal’s well-being.

4.0.3 Not allocated.

4.0.4 Animals must be maintained at body condition score 2 or above on a 1-5 scale.

4.0.5 Breeding animals must not exceed body condition score 4 on a 1-5 scale.

4.1 Not Allocated

4.2 Group Management

4.2.1 All classes of animals must be sorted (for example by age, size and/or behaviour) so that they remain in stable groups and the welfare of less dominant animals is protected. Mixing animals from different groups should be avoided.

4.2.2 Not allocated.

4.2.3 Special care must be taken when mixing breeding males to socialise them to one another as safely as possible and to minimise harm to individuals.

4.2.4 Recommended Male breeding animals should be kept with the main herd or have nose to nose contact with other animals of the same species.

Note: No animal can be kept completely in isolation unless it is sick or injured (see Standard 8.3.3). If a male breeding animal has to be kept away from other animals of the same species, it must have a compatible companion of another species.

4.3 Breeding and Kidding

4.3.1 A competent person must be available at birthing time to assist if problems are anticipated at delivery.

4.3.2 Not allocated.

4.3.3 Does must not kid before the age of 13 months.

Note: In a situation where kidding takes place over a period of time the herd average figure will be assessed.

Young females may reach puberty before the optimal age of first service. Males must be managed carefully to ensure females are not accidentally served too young.

4.3.4 Not allocated.

4.3.5 When conditions permit, kidding must take place outside on pasture.

4.3.6 Not allocated.

4.3.7 A clean environment with sufficient space must be provided for kidding.

Note: See the specified space allowances in section 8.1. 

4.3.8 Recommended Does should not kid before the age of 18 months.

4.3.9 If welfare problems (including high mortality of kids or does, high levels of assisted births, low body condition of kids or does) result from the early age at which does kid, then AGW will require the farmer to increase the age at first kidding accordingly.

4.3.10 If a kidding pen is used it must provide a minimum of 25 sq. feet (2.32 sq. metres) and provide easy access to fresh water and feed.

Note: Pens constructed following farm approval must meet the standard above. Pens that were constructed before farm approval that are at least 20 sq. feet (1.86 sq. metres) may be acceptable.

4.3.11 The doe and new-born kid(s) must not be kept in a pen for more than 72 hours.

Note: This standard assumes that does and new-born kid(s) are healthy. See Section 8.3 for requirements for sick pens.

Note also that this standard does not require that does and new-born kid(s) must be returned to pasture after the 72-hour period has elapsed. If the requirements of section 7.5 – Exclusion from Pasture – are met, does and new-born kid(s) may still be kept off pasture, if they meet the space requirements in Section 8.1.

4.3.13 A doe may only be temporarily restrained for fostering if all other methods to encourage adoption of a kid have failed.

Note: A written record for the reason for rejection and the method of restraint must be kept.

4.4 Provisions for Kids.

4.4.1 Kids must be provided with colostrum within the first six hours of birth.

4.4.2 Recommended Farmers should test for Johne’s disease.

4.4.3 Colostrum and milk for kids must not knowingly come from does that are Johne’s positive.

4.4.4 Recommended Goat farmers should test for Caprine Arthritis Encephalitis (CAE).

4.4.5 Colostrum and milk for kids must not knowingly come from does that are CAE positive.

4.4.6 Recommended Kids should be reared by their mothers.

4.5 Fostering and Artificial Rearing

4.5.1 Recommended Orphan or excess young animals should be fostered onto other does.

4.5.2 If foster mothers are used the number of kids must be adjusted to the amount of milk the foster mother can produce and the number of foster kids she will accept.

4.5.3 Foster mothers must not become debilitated by nursing.

4.5.4 Sick or injured animals must not be used as foster mothers.

4.5.5 – 4.4.6 Not allocated.

4.5.7 Kids must be fed milk or milk replacer at least twice a day.

4.5.8 Milk replacer containing antibiotics, growth promoters and/or any animal by-products aside from milk protein is prohibited.

Note: If the welfare of a kid could be compromised and evidence can be submitted that suitable products are not available an allowance is in operation to allow milk replacers which do not meet the standard above.

4.5.9 All nipples and other feeding equipment must be cleaned regularly.

4.5.10 If feeders are used there must never be more kids in the pen than nipples on the feeder unless ad lib self feeding is provided.

4.5.11 Artificially reared kids must be kept in groups.

4.5.12 – 4.5.13 Not allocated.

4.5.14 Provision must be made for weaned dairy kids to go outside and graze during the growing season.

Note: The growing season is the period between the last and first frost each year.

4.5.15 Kids must have continuous access to high quality fresh forage from seven days of age onwards.

Note: Access is recommended from day one.

4.5.16 Dairy farms that raise their own kids for meat must follow the AWA dairy standards from birth to weaning and the AWA meat goat standards from weaning onwards.

4.6 Weaning and Separation of Kids

4.6.1 Recommended Husbandry systems that allow young kids to remain in the herd with their mothers until weaning occurs naturally are recommended.

4.6.2 Not allocated.

4.6.3 Newly weaned or separated kids must be kept in groups of familiar animals.

4.6.4 Not allocated.

4.6.5 Separation of the kid from its mother must involve methods designed to cause as little stress as possible.

4.6.6 After separation kids and their mothers must either be kept in adjacent pens where they can see, hear and sniff/lick each other or be completely out of sight and hearing of each other.

4.6.7 Feed for freshly weaned kids must be clean and appealing.

4.6.8 Not allocated.

4.6.9 Recommended Dairy kids should not be weaned from milk before they are 12 weeks of age.

4.6.10 Dairy kids must not be weaned from milk before they are six weeks of age.

4.7 Castration

4.7.1 Buck kids may only be castrated when uncontrolled breeding cannot be prevented by any other management.

4.7.2 Immunocastration and other forms of chemical (synthetic or natural) castration or testosterone production limiting methods are prohibited.

4.7.3 – 4.7.4 Not allocated.

4.7.5 It is prohibited to castrate kids that are more than seven days old.

Note: Kids may be castrated using rubber rings, scalpel or emasculator (burdizzo).

4.8 Other Physical Alterations

4.8.1 Not allocated.

4.8.2 Dehorning is prohibited. Horns may be tipped as long as the living tissue inside the horn is not being cut.

4.8.3 – 4.8.7 Not allocated.

4.8.8 Kids 10 days old or less may be disbudded using hot iron cauterisation. Hot iron cauterisation must be preceded and followed by administration of appropriate anaesthetic and analgesia.

4.8.9 Recommended Caustic paste disbudding should not be used for kids.

Note: Please contact AGW for guidance if you wish to disbud using caustic paste.

4.8.10 Not allocated.

4.8.11 De-wattling is prohibited.

4.8.12 De-scenting bucks is prohibited.

4.8.13 If removal of supernumerary teats on dairy females is to be done the procedure must be carried out by a competent person using an effective local anaesthetic before the kids are five weeks old.

4.9 Identification

4.9.1 Where identification is required it must not cause harm to the animal. Recommended The preferred method for permanent identification is Sub-Cutaneous Radio Frequency Identification. Recommended The preferred method of temporary identification is non-toxic paints or dyes. Ear tagging and tattooing are permitted methods of identification.

4.9.2 – 4.9.3 Not allocated.

4.9.4 Ear marking by cutting/notching the ears of goats is prohibited.



6.0 – General Food and Water Standards

6.0.1 Animals must have free access to clean, fresh water at all times.

6.0.2 Animals must have a feeding plan that will guarantee a varied, well-balanced and wholesome nutritional regime appropriate for their age.

Note: Particular attention must be paid to older does that may have poor teeth.

6.0.3 A list of ingredients or sample tear tags from all feed, feed blocks and mineral blocks used on farm must be made available to the AWA representative.

6.0.4 Food and water must be distributed in a way that eliminates competition.

6.0.5 Feeding meat or animal by products is prohibited. Feeding fishmeal and other aquatic products to goats is prohibited.

6.0.6 Recommended Farms should be Certified Non-GMO by AGW.

6.0.7 Recommended Farms that are not seeking Certified Non-GMO accreditation should avoid genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or derivatives of GMOs, including GMO feed and veterinary and health care products containing GMOs or their derivatives as well as the growing of genetically engineered crops.

6.1 Food and Water for Ruminants

6.1.1 To ensure proper rumen function goats must be provided with at least 70 percent long fibre roughage/forage in their diet on a daily dry matter basis from weaning onwards (see also 6.1.2).

6.1.2 The minimum requirement for roughage for lactating dairy goats is 60 percent long fibre roughage/forage on a daily dry matter basis.

6.1.3 Any changes in diet must be carried out gradually to minimise rumen problems.

6.1.4 The nutritional regime and pasture management plan must take into account the added nutritional requirements of lactating animals (see also 6.0.2 and 7.0.8).

6.1.5 Feedlots and other types of confinement feeding operations are prohibited.

6.1.6 – 6.1.7 Not allocated.

6.1.8 Recommended Livestock feeds should minimise ingredients that are in direct competition with human nutrition.

Note: Feeds that are in competition for human nutrition include soya and grains.


7.0 General Pasture Access Standards

The aim of good pasture management is to satisfy the herd’s food-seeking behaviours. Animals must be able to explore the ground and their natural environment.

Note: For goats, all standards in this section that relate to pasture access must also be applied to browse access. Browse is normally shrubby, taller material. If given a choice, goats will obtain up to 50% of their daily feed from browsing rather than grazing.

For management of animals in extreme weather please see sections 7.5 and 8.0.

7.0.1 Continuous outdoor pasture access is required for all goats.

7.0.2 – 7.0.3 Not allocated

7.0.4 Recommended Pasture areas should be used in rotation. Both extensive and rotational grazing systems are permitted.

7.0.5 The amount of outdoor area must be such that the health and welfare of the animals and pasture quality is maintained.

7.0.6 Pasture areas and the fencing that surrounds them must be designed and maintained so they do not pose a risk, or inflict injury on the animals.

Note: This includes keeping pastures free of old fencing, old farm machinery and any other debris that could cause injury.

7.0.7 Animals must have access to pasture areas that are well drained and clean.

7.0.8 A pasture management plan must be in place that addresses the specific farm site. It must ensure that: The nutritional requirements of grazing animals can be adequately met through grazing and appropriate supplementation. Not allocated. The composition of the pastures does not create health problems for the animals. Animals have access to fresh, clean pasture that has not become polluted with manure. The location of water, shelter, and feeding areas is addressed.

Note: See Standard 11.1.2 for recommendations on review/update of plans.

7.0.9 Soil testing must be conducted at least every three years.

Note: Farmers with extensive, unfertilised range lands and/or farming land on short term lease agreements should contact AGW for guidance on appropriate soil testing intervals. Recommended Annual soil testing should be carried out in any pastures where manure is spread.

7.0.10 Recommended Annual testing of pasture or forage nutritional content is recommended (see also 6.0.2).

7.0.11 Herbicides and pesticides may only be used when weeds or pests cannot be practically controlled by other means.

7.0.12 Herbicides and pesticides must be mixed, used and disposed of according to manufacturer’s instructions to avoid environmental contamination.

7.0.13 Animals must not be grazed or kept on land within 21 days of direct application of herbicides or pesticides.

7.0.14 The use of any manures or fertilisers for pasture land that are bought in from off-farm must be justified by soil testing and crop nutritional need.

7.0.15 Waste from on-farm slaughter, and the remains of animals that die or are euthanised on farm must be properly composted before it is applied to pasture.

7.0.16 Fish fertilisers must come from sustainable sources.

7.0.17 After the application of fish fertiliser, the composted remains of animals that die or are euthanised on farm or slaughter waste to pasture there must be an interval of at least one month, or until all visible signs of the application have disappeared (whichever is longer), before animals graze the land.

Note: Permission may be granted to graze/use the land prior to one month after application of composted animal remains, slaughter waste or fish fertiliser if it can be demonstrated that animals will not be exposed to any trace of the fertiliser.

7.0.18 Recommended Manures and fertilisers that can have a negative effect on soil microbial life and/or which contain heavy metals should be avoided.

7.0.19 Water sources on the farm must be managed and maintained to prevent environmental pollution.

7.0.20 Land must be managed to avoid erosion.

Note: AGW understands that even with the best management some erosion due to the activities of pasture-based livestock may occur. This standard is scored against the steps farmers take to try to avoid and/or minimise erosion risks rather than the presence or absence of erosion on the farm. A complete absence of any erosion is desirable – but it is accepted that it may not always be possible.

7.0.21 Pastures must not be degraded by overgrazing and/or other management techniques.

7.0.22 Non-point pollution and other local environmental standards must be met.

7.0.23 Pasture areas on which animals have been out-wintered or that are otherwise worn out or denuded must be restored.

7.0.24 Spraying neonicotinoids on any land owned or managed by the approved farm is prohibited.

Note: There is increasing evidence that neonicotinoids not only adversely affect bees, but other wildlife. These products are already prohibited in many countries.

7.1 Pasture for Goats

7.1.1 The activity of the animals must not cause more than 20% of the pasture area they are kept on to be denuded.

7.1.2 Animals and pastures must be managed to avoid the risk of bloat.

7.2 – 7.4 Not Allocated

7.5 Exclusion from Pasture/Ranging and Foraging Areas

For the purposes of these standards AGW defines exclusion from pasture as the following:

  • Shutting animals into a house or barn.
  • Keeping animals outdoors, outside of the growing season, on a sacrifice pasture (or similar).
  • Keeping animals outdoors when pasture is covered to the point that animals cannot access vegetation (e.g. when pasture is snow covered).

Animals who have been properly selected for the specific climate conditions will voluntarily choose to go outdoors in all but the most extreme weather. However, when exclusion is in the best interest of the animal the standards in the following section and those in section 8 must be met.

7.5.1 Animals may only be removed from pasture and housed when their welfare would otherwise be negatively affected.

Note: Acceptable reasons for removal from pasture could include the following: extreme weather, emergencies; for example, wildfires and overnight removal from pasture for predator protection.

7.5.2 If there is planned removal of animals from pasture for any length of time OR in an emergency where removal from pasture exceeds 28 days, the farmer must put into place a written plan for animal management. It must include: Triggers for housing such as temperature, precipitation or soil condition. Space available to each housed animal. Facilities available to house the animals. These must include lying areas, loafing areas, feeding areas and space to enable animals to fulfil their behavioural needs. Triggers for animals to be returned to pasture.

Note: It is not acceptable to use a particular date during the year as a trigger for either housing or return to pasture. Triggers should relate to the identified risk to the welfare of the animals under particular climatic or environmental scenarios.


8.0 General Housing Standards

Shelter for goats may be provided by natural features such as shade, trees, or by buildings. Housing may also be used as shelter.

8.0.1 In climatic regions where their thermal comfort may be negatively impacted, goats must have continuous access as required to housing or shelter that protects them from weather extremes, including high winds, sleet and heavy snows, and sun. Goats must have shelter from the rain.

8.0.2 Not allocated.

8.0.3 In extreme weather there must be a means to feed and water animals in a sheltered environment.

8.0.4 Shelters and housing must be positioned away from areas of run off or potential run off.

8.0.5 Shelters and housing must be well ventilated and allow fresh air to enter.

8.0.6 Shelters and housing must allow natural light to enter.

8.0.7 All housing, shelters and other facilities (such as feeders and water troughs) must be designed and maintained in such a way that they do not pose a risk, or inflict injury or damage to the animals.

8.0.8 Animals must not be subjected to dim and/or continuous lighting or kept in permanent darkness.

8.0.9 In the daytime, the animals must always be able to see each other, their food and water sources, as well as their surroundings clearly.

8.0.10 Inspection of animals must be possible at any time day or night.

8.0.11 Use of artificial light must not extend the maximum day-length beyond 16 hours.

8.0.12 When animals are shut into housing or shelter any artificial light must be distributed evenly.

8.0.13 Not allocated.

8.0.14 Shelters and housing for goats must have solid floors.

Note: Floors may be natural – the surface of the ground or pasture – or artificial. An area of wire or slat under a drinker will be deemed drainage not a floor.

8.0.15 – 8.0.16 Not allocated.

8.0.17 Animals at all times must have an area available that provides dry footing so they are not forced to stand in mud or manure.

8.0.18 Accommodations must be constructed so that they can be easily and effectively cleaned.

8.0.19 Manure must be removed from housing or shelters on a regular basis.

8.0.20 – 8.0.21 Not allocated.

8.0.22 The house or shelter must be managed to eliminate ammonia, dampness and mould.

Note: The human nose can detect ammonia at levels of 5ppm upwards. If the farmer can smell ammonia action must be taken to eliminate the source.

8.0.23 Liquefaction of manure and liquefied manure handling systems are prohibited.

8.0.24 Close confinement in cages, crates or by tethering is prohibited.

8.0.25 Temporary close confinement or tying up (tethering), which may be required for vaccination, weighing, feeding, milking, marking or veterinary procedures, is permitted. This must be noted in the farm plan or recorded at the time.

8.0.26 Maintenance and housekeeping routines must be in place to minimise any potential problems from rats or mice.

8.1 Space Allowances in Housing and Shelter

Space allowances for housing and shelter have been set to allow all animals to move around freely and have sufficient space to lie down allowing for the behavioural structure of the herd.

8.1.1 The following space allowances are required in housing or shelter:

Goats minimum indoor bedded lying area:

Weight of animal Indoor space – sq. feet Indoor space – sq. metres
Up to 44 lb (Up to20kg) 4 sq. feet 0.4 sq. metres
44.1 lb to 88 lb (20.1kg to 40kg) 7.5 sq. feet 0.7 sq. metres
88.1 lb to 132 lb (40.1 kg to 60kg) 11 sq. feet 1.0 sq. metres
132.1 lb to 176 lb (60.1 kg to 80kg) 13.5 sq. feet 1.25 sq. metres
176.1 lb + (80.1kg +) 16 sq. feet 1.5 sq. metres

Goats minimum additional loafing area

Weight of animal Loafing area – sq. feet Loafing area – sq. metres
Up to 44 lb (Up to20kg) 5.4 sq. feet 0.5 sq. metres
44.1 lb to 88 lb (20.1kg to 40kg) 11 sq. feet 1.0 sq. metres
88.1 lb to 132 lb (40.1 kg to 60kg) 16.5 sq. feet 1.5 sq. metres
132.1 lb to 176 lb (60.1 kg to 80kg) 22 sq. feet 2.0 sq. metres
176.1 lb + (80.1kg +) 27 sq. feet 2.5 sq. metres

8.2 Not Allocated

8.3 Temporary Separation and Hospital Pens

8.3.1 There must be provision of a safe place for sick or injured animals to recover, free of competition.

8.3.2 If injured animals are separated from the herd they must only be kept apart until such time they can re-join the group without adversely affecting either the health or welfare of the individual or the herd.

8.3.3 Animals must not be kept in isolation unless briefly required for veterinary procedures or to recover from an illness or injury.

8.3.4 The pen or enclosure for temporarily single-housed animals must meet the space requirements in section 8.1.

8.3.5 Recommended Temporarily single-housed animals should have visual and auditory contact with others.

8.3.6 At minimum, pens used for the treatment of sick animals must be cleaned between each use.

8.4 Bedding

8.4.1 In housing, bedding must be available to goats at all times.

8.4.2 – 8.4.3 Not allocated.

8.4.4 Bedding must be clean, dry, mould-free and replenished as needed.

8.4.5 Bedding must not cause discomfort or harm to the animals. Particular attention must be paid if sand is chosen as bedding.

8.4.6 Recommended Bedding with hay or straw is preferred.

8.4.7 Bedding from timber-based products sourced from chemically treated wood is prohibited.

8.4.8 There must be enough bedding to ensure the comfort of all goats.

8.4.9 In cold temperatures heat must be provided as necessary to keep animals comfortable.

8.5 Raised Platforms for Goats

8.5.1 When goats are excluded from pasture, raised platforms must be provided.

8.5.2 Recommended Goats on pasture should have access to structures they can jump or climb on.


9.0 Removal of Animals from the Approved Farm – General Standards

These standards only apply to animals that the approved farmer retains ownership of when they are moved off the approved farm.

9.0.1 When AWA livestock are removed from the approved farm they must be kept to AWA standards until such time they leave the ownership of the approved farm or farmer.

9.0.2 There must be a separate and specific plan for maintaining animal health and welfare, transport, biosecurity and continued compliance with the AWA standards while animals are removed from the approved farm.

9.1 Temporary Removal of Approved Animals from the Approved Farm

9.1.1 AWA livestock will only retain their status when temporarily removed from the approved farm for the following reasons: Male animals used for breeding. Female animals taken to be naturally served. Movement of animals in an emergency. Movement of animals prepared for showing. Movement of animals for up to 24 hours for routine management practices.

Note: This could include movement for shearing, foot care or other similar practices.

9.1.2 Not allocated.

9.1.3 Goats taken to shows do not have to meet pasture access standards as long as they are only off the approved farm for a maximum of five days.

9.1.4 If AWA breeding animals are hired or taken to farmers that are not AWA the approved farm must ensure that the farm they are transferring the animals to is aware of the relevant standards for management and can meet them.

9.1.5 Showing animals must be conditioned to handling, loading and human contact before movement to a show can be permitted.


10.0 Protection from Predators

10.0.1 All animals must be protected from predators.

10.0.2 If livestock guardian dogs are used their management must meet the AWA guidelines for guardian or herding canine management.

10.0.3 If other guardian animals are used they must be suitable for guardian duties.

10.0.4 Guardian animals must be chosen with consideration of their ability to thrive in the prevailing climatic conditions of the farm, in pasture-based, free range, outdoor systems.

10.0.5 In the event that exclusion is unsuccessful and predation remains an issue, live trapping may be used.

10.0.6 Live traps must be checked twice daily.

10.0.7 All other forms of traps are prohibited.

10.0.8 All snares and leghold traps are prohibited.

10.0.9 The use of poisons against predators is prohibited.

10.0.10 If live trapping is not possible or is not successful then as a last resort lethal control of specific animals may be carried out when these are causing an immediate threat to farm livestock.

10.0.11 If there is a continuous threat from predators that cannot be managed by live trapping advice must be sought from AGW regarding a control programme.

10.0.12 Lethal control/euthanasia of predators must result in instantaneous irreversible unconsciousness and death.

10.0.13 If a predatory animal has been euthanised to protect the animals on the farm, there must be records kept of the species in question, number of animals, and euthanasia method.

10.1 Control of Rats and Mice

10.1.1 Glue boards for the control of rats and mice are prohibited.

10.1.2 Licensed rodenticides placed such that non-target species have no access to them may be used for the control of rats or mice.

10.1.3 Lethal control/euthanasia of live trapped rodents must result in instantaneous irreversible unconsciousness and death.


This section lists the records and plans that must be maintained on farm and the sections where they can be found. All records and plans must be in a physical form that can be shown to the AGW auditor. Verbal plans and records are not acceptable

Note: For new farmers entering the programme a period of 12 months will be provided to put the programme plans and records in place. Please contact AGW if you require assistance. AGW also provides templates for plans and records.

11.0 Written Records

11.0.1 Each farm must maintain, and provide the auditor access to, records to demonstrate compliance with AWA standards.

11.0.2 Records must be kept of the purchase, sale or transfer of AWA animals and products (e.g. feeder kids, milk, meat, etc.).

11.0.3 Records must be kept of mortalities and culls including the cause for these where known.

11.1 Written Plans

AGW requires the following written plans in addition to the emergency plan detailed in this section. See the relevant standard number for more information:

  • Health plan; standard 3.0.4
  • Pasture management plan; standard 7.0.8
  • Transport plan; standard 13.0.1

11.1.1 A plan to care for or house animals in emergency situations must be prepared and be understood by all of those working on the farm. The plan must consider the welfare of the animals during a fire. In shelters or housing with restricted access (a single door or doorways), a fire plan must be established with escape routes to the outdoors, available from the interior of the shelter, to allow all animals to be evacuated quickly.  In shelters or housing with restricted access, a method to extinguish the fire (fire extinguisher, water source) must be readily accessed. Animals must be kept from direct access to electrical wiring and heat sources as a fire prevention measure. The plan must ensure welfare of the animals is maintained in any potential climatic extreme such as floods, snow storms, or drought. The plan must ensure welfare of the animals is maintained during any potential disruption of services or mechanical breakdown, such as water supply cutoff and breakdown of feeding or ventilation machinery. The plan must ensure the welfare of animals is maintained during transport to include actions to be taken in the event of an accident or vehicle breakdown.

11.1.2 Recommended All plans for animal management should be reviewed at least annually or whenever changes to farm management practices occur, whichever is most frequent.

Note: This standard applies to the health plan (standard 3.0.4); pasture management plan (standard 7.0.8); emergency plan (standard 11.1.1) and transport plan (standard 13.0.1).


12.0 Handling Goats

12.0.1 Efforts must be made to develop positive relationships between the farmer and animals through gentle handling.

12.0.2 All handling areas accessed by the animals must provide good traction, be well drained and kept clean and free of ice in the wintertime.

12.0.3 The use of electric prods or electric shocks is prohibited.

12.0.4 Abuse or maltreatment of animals is prohibited.

12.0.5 All animals must be moved in a calm and consistent manner. Stress from loud noises and rapid movements must be minimised.

12.0.6 All chutes and other facilities for loading must be designed to minimise stress to the animal and ensure that animals can breathe normally as they proceed through the loading process.

12.0.7 Herding dogs must be well trained.

Note: Farmers who regularly train herding dogs must contact AGW to discuss compliance with the standard above.

12.0.8 If working dogs are used their management must meet the AWA guidelines for guardian or herding canine management.

Note: Working dogs include herding dogs and livestock guardian dogs.

12.0.9 Animals must not be used for sport.


13.0 Transport – General Standards

This section applies to all transport of animals including to slaughter, around the farm, between farms or delivery to farm.

13.0.1 A plan must exist to ensure that welfare of the animals is maintained during transport. The plan must include: Transport of animals to the farm. Transport of animals around the farm. Transport of animals off the farm to other farms, to receive veterinary attention or to slaughter.

Note: See Standard 11.1.2 for recommendations on review/update of plans

13.0.2 All animals must be healthy, ambulatory and uninjured to be transported unless they are being transported to receive veterinary treatment.

13.0.3 The person transporting the animals must ensure they are transported without delay to their destination.

13.0.4 A competent individual must take responsibility for ensuring that animals do not suffer any injury or distress at any point immediately before, during and after transport.

13.0.5 All subcontractors, handlers and lorry drivers must adhere to AWA standards.

13.0.6 If delays during transport or unloading upon arrival at destination are anticipated, loading and transport must not commence until those complications are resolved.

13.0.7 During transport, all animals must be protected from harm and thermal stress.

13.0.8 In the event that any animals suffer injury or distress during transport they must be treated or euthanised as soon as practically possible.

13.0.9 Ventilation must be provided that allows the animals to breathe fresh air while on the transport vehicle.

13.0.10 Overcrowding during transport is prohibited. The following space allowances in transport are required:

Weight of goat Space per goat
Up to 77lbs   (35kg) 2.70 sq. feet (0.25 sq. metres)
Up to 100lbs (45kg) 3.75 sq. feet (0.35 sq. metres)
Up to 120lbs (55kg) 6.00 sq. feet (0.55 sq. metres)

13.0.11 The transportation vehicle must be thoroughly cleaned and dried prior to loading.

13.0.12 All animals must have continuous access to water until the point of loading.

13.1 Transport of Goats

13.1.1 Transporting downed animals is prohibited.

13.1.2 Recommended Animals should not be transported in isolation.

13.1.3 The transport vehicle must be constructed or bedded to prevent animals slipping.

13.1.4 Injured or lame animals must not be sold at auctions and if sent off farm must go directly to slaughter.

13.1.5 Injured or lame animals who are able to travel must not be sent to slaughter in the same compartment as healthy animals.

13.1.6 Animals from different farms must be separated in transport.

13.1.7 Recommended Animals from different social groups (pens) should be separated in transport.

13.1.8 Transport of animals must not exceed eight hours.

Note: A derogation may be granted if an approved abattoir is not available within eight hours travel from the farm.

Transport of breeding stock that are sourced or sold for genetic improvement is exempt from this standard. Transport of kids within seven days of weaning must not exceed three hours.

13.1.9 – 13.1.10 Not allocated.

13.1.11 Does must not be transported off the farm within 4 weeks of expected kidding.

Note: Animals close to giving birth may be transported when it is in the best interests of their health and welfare.

13.2 Transport of Kids

13.2.1 Kids must not be transported around the farm or off the farm until they are at least one week old.

Note: Kids may be moved from the kidding pen back to pasture.

13.2.2 Recommended Kids should not be transported around the farm or off the farm until they are at least six weeks old.

13.2.3 In an emergency a kid that cannot be reared on the approved farm may be transported to be reared off-farm at less than one week old as long as they have already been provided with colostrum.

13.2.4 Not allocated.

13.2.5 Kids must be fit to travel.


14.0 Sale or Transfer of Goats

14.0.1 Recommended All animals should be reared on their farm of birth.

14.0.2 Animals must not be knowingly sold into systems prohibited by these standards.

14.0.3 Routine sale to feedlots is prohibited.

14.0.4 The planned use of livestock markets to sell animals is prohibited.

14.0.5 Animals must not be displayed or offered for sale or transfer at farmers markets, swap meets or similar venues.

Note: Delivery or exchange of animals at a farmers market or similar venue when the sale or transfer has been pre-arranged may be acceptable.

14.0.6 Animals sold live at the point of slaughter under the AWA label or logo must only be sold to customers who will take them to AWA abattoirs.

14.0.7 – 14.0.8 Not allocated

14.0.9 Recommended Kids less than two months of age should not be sold or transferred to slaughter.

14.0.10 Euthanisation of healthy animals is prohibited.

Note: New dairies seeking AWA status that currently euthanise healthy buck kids must have a written plan to end this practice.  

14.0.11 Recommended AGW recommends that even if animals or animal products are not sold under the label or logo they are sold to other AWA farms and slaughtered at AWA abattoirs.

14.1 Marketing Breeding Stock

If the farm advertises that any of their animals produced are suitable as breeding stock, the farm is a breeding stock operation and must meet the standards below.

14.1.1 The AWA breeding stock farm must produce animals that are suitable for pasture-based production.

14.1.2 The AWA breeding stock farm must have a written breeding plan that covers the following points: The overall breeding aims. The protocol for selecting and matching sires and dams. The criteria used to assess whether animals are suitable to be marketed as breeding stock

14.1.3 The AWA breeding stock farm must inform buyers about the AWA programme.


15.0 Deviations

15.0.1 AGW must be informed immediately of any changes on farm that could result in a deviation from the standards.

Note: The farmer must inform AGW if they change abattoir from that which is listed on their certificate – even if the change is to another abattoir that has been reviewed and recommended by AWA.

15.0.2 Temporary deviations will be taken into consideration when unexpected circumstances that are not under the control of the farmer arise.

15.0.3 All other deviations from the AWA standards can be cause for reconsideration of the farmer’s participation or removal from the AWA programme and use of its seal, in conjunction with that farmer’s products.

15.1 Derogations

15.1.1 If, in the opinion of the AWA Standards Board, a system meets all of the principles of the programme but does not pass a specific standard or standards, derogation may be granted.

15.1.2 In order for a derogation to be granted, an inspection report must be submitted stating the deviation from the published standard, the reason for this deviation, the length of time this deviation from standards will occur and the welfare outcome should the derogation be granted.

15.1.3 Derogation may be granted for on-farm trials and case studies that deviate from the standards when the proposed outcome is a benefit to animal welfare and/or farmer education.

15.2 Complaints

15.2.1 A complaints record relating to complaints about AWA certified livestock or products must be maintained and be available at annual inspection. The record must list both the complaint and the action taken by the farm.


16.0 Slaughter of Goats

16.0.1 Recommended On-farm mobile slaughter is recommended.

16.0.2 Not allocated.

16.0.3 Abattoirs receiving animals in the AWA programme, or the process of slaughtering on-farm, must pass a review by the AGW programme for pre-slaughter handling, stunning, and killing.

Note: For further details of the review requirements see the AWA Slaughter Guidelines for Red Meat.

16.0.4 Recommended The person delivering the animals to slaughter should stay with them to ensure that they are slaughtered according to AWA guidelines.

16.0.5 Downed animals must be euthanised where they lie in a manner that renders them immediately insensible to pain.

Note: Please contact AGW if further information on appropriate methods of euthanasia is required.

16.0.6 Meat from downed animals must not be sold or carry the AWA seal.

Animal Welfare Approved by AGW

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