Making sure animals are healthy and cared for is a primary concern of our Kentucky farmers. While most of the animals raised in agriculture will be used for food, farmers realize that unhealthy animals do not provide quality meats, eggs, milk, and co-products. Quality is a primary factor for determining the price a farmer receives for his or her livestock products. 

Kentucky livestock today are more comfortable and better cared for than at any time in history. The Kentucky agricultural community has worked to improve animal handling facilities, health care, feed quality, genetics, and producer knowledge. The investment in research at our universities has enabled producers to apply science-based improvements in all sectors of the animal life cycle.

The Kentucky Livestock Care Standards Commission was created in 2012 in response to other states working to adopt standards based on public perception rather than sound science. Some of those proposed standards threatened to impact the economic competitiveness of the farmers in those states without materially improving the care of their animals. Kentucky farm interest groups decided to take the lead in developing on-farm standards that would protect their animals without putting undue regulatory burdens on producers.

The commission, headed by Kentucky State Veterinarian Dr. Robert C. Stout, created a multi-species document with input from all segments of the livestock industry as well as other interested parties. The draft was approved by the commission and the Kentucky State Board of Agriculture and adopted in March 2013.

Below are the standards as published in Kentucky Law, 302 KAR 21:020 and statute 257.192.

Kentucky Livestock Care Standards

Section 1. Feed and Water.

  (1) Livestock and poultry shall receive feed and water so as to maintain a body condition appropriate for age, use, stage of production, and weather condition.

  (2) Feed and water may be withheld for the following reasons:

      (a) Specific management practices;

      (b) In an emergency situation such as extreme weather condition or loss of utilities; or

      (c) Health care purposes.


  Section 2. Space.

  (1) Space sufficient to maintain livestock and poultry shall be provided and it may be:

      (a) Confined;

      (b) Semi-confined; or

      (c) An outdoor lot or pasture.

 (2) If used, facilities may be environmentally controlled.

 (3) Separation of individual animals shall be authorized.

 (4) Indoor stocking densities shall allow for a single layer of animals.

 (5) If fencing is used, it shall be maintained in accordance with KRS 256.010(1).


 Section 3. Health care.

(1) Health care sufficient to maintain livestock and poultry shall be provided promptly and it may include:

      (a) Use of pharmaceuticals and biologicals. They shall be used in accordance with label directions or as directed by a licensed veterinarian; and

      (b) Prescription and extra-label medications. They shall be administered as directed by a licensed veterinarian with a valid veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

(2) Livestock and poultry shall be routinely observed for well-being.

(3) Dead livestock and poultry shall be disposed of pursuant to KRS 257.160.


 Section 4. Livestock handling and transport.

 (1) The following shall be done in a manner that minimizes the risk of injury:

      (a) Handling of poultry and livestock; and

      (b) Loading or unloading of livestock and poultry for or from transport.

 (2) If used, the following shall be used in a manner that minimizes the risk of injury that is consistent with the manufacturer's recommendations:

      (a) Facilities and equipment; and

      (b) Handling, sorting, or other devices either to move livestock or for diagnostic evaluation.

 (3) Livestock and poultry shall be able to stand in their natural posture or position or rest in a single layer once loaded for transport.

 (4) Livestock and poultry shall be loaded in a way that allows fallen animals to rise.


  Section 5. Handling of Disabled Livestock and Poultry.

(1) The responsible party for ambulatory disabled, non-ambulatory disabled, or distressed livestock or poultry shall provide appropriate protection from other animals, predators, and weather extremes as required by the condition of the animal.

(2) Ambulatory disabled, non-ambulatory disabled, or distressed livestock or poultry shall have access to water, and if maintained longer than twenty-four (24) hours, access to feed.

(3) Handling and moving of ambulatory disabled, non-ambulatory disabled, or distressed animals shall be done in a manner that minimizes the risk of additional distress.

(4) Non-ambulatory disabled livestock shall be loaded only for transport to a terminal market or for treatment.

(5) Livestock and poultry in severe distress with an irreversible condition shall be euthanized.


 Section 6. Preparing animals for exhibition.

(1) Training, fitting, and restraint of livestock or poultry for exhibition shall be performed in a manner that minimizes the risk of injury.

(2) Livestock for exhibition shall not be tampered with pursuant to KRS 246.420.


 Section 7. Euthanasia.

Euthanasia of livestock shall be performed using the approved methods pursuant to the 2007 Report of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Panel on Euthanasia. A licensed veterinarian, law enforcement officer, or approved animal control or humane society personnel may provide assistance in identifying an acceptable method of euthanasia for the current situation and environment.


  Section 8. Biosecurity.

(1) Biosecurity protocols and limitation of public access to farms may be established by the responsible party.

(2) Use of animals, devices, or fencing for predator control shall be authorized.


 Section 9. Exemptions.

This administrative regulation shall not:

      (1) Limit or prevent a veterinarian or person under the supervision of a veterinarian from providing necessary care for an animal; or

      (2) Apply to the care of livestock and poultry used by an on-farm research facility that is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act, 7 U.S.C. 2131-2159.


  Section 10. Incorporation by Reference.

(1) "Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia", June 2007, is incorporated by reference.

(2) This material may be inspected, copied, or obtained, subject to applicable copyright law, at the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, 200 Fair Oaks, 2nd Floor, Frankfort, Kentucky 40601, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (40 Ky.R. 730; eff. 3-7-2014.)


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