Animals in Agriculture in Indonesia

October 22, 2021Lu Shegay


Indonesia is the 5th most populated country in the world and is a major producer of agricultural products. The islands of Java and Bali account for only 7% of Indonesia’s total land area but 60% of the population. Agriculture is very intensive on these islands, with up to three crop rotations per year. Outside of Java, soils are less fertile, and agriculture is less intensive. The major food crops, ranked by area harvested, are rice, corn, cassava, soybeans, and peanuts. Indonesia is also one of the world’s largest producers and exporters of tree crops such as rubber, copra, palm kernels, palm oil, coffee, cocoa, and spices.

Agriculture plays a significant role in the economy of Indonesia. In 2013, the agricultural sector contributed 14.43% to the national GDP. The agricultural sector provides jobs to 49 million nationals, and, currently, approximately 30% of Indonesia’s land area is used for agriculture purposes. The major sector of Indonesia consists of large plantations, both state and private, and smallholder production modes, namely family-owned or locally-owned farms. Also, because of the location of the country in the tropical region, the weather conditions positively contribute to agriculture.

"Herd of Cattle in Daytime"  by Helena Lopes from Pexels


Indonesia, because of its geographical location, is popular in aquaculture but keeps and raises land farmed animals too, due to its land area. These animals are buffaloes, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, ducks, horses, and many others.

“In the early 1990s, feedlot businesses developed in response to the growing market for beef. Feedlot businesses are mostly located in areas near urban centers, particularly Jakarta, where the main bases for beef demand exist. As estimated by, about 75% of cattle imported from Australia into Indonesia are destined for feedlots, with a target intake weight of between 280 to 350 kg (average 320 kg) live weight and an average daily gain of 1.5 to 2 kg/d achievable. Australia also exports heavier finished cattle that are over 400 kg live weight to Indonesia, which are then sent directly to slaughter. Cattle that flourish in northern Australia include Brahman-crosses. Imports of these feeder cattle increased rapidly, by about 16% per annum from 2004 to 2008. Today, there are many feedlot businesses in West Java and Sumatra Island. In recent years there has been considerable investment into large-scale commercial feedlots and associated infrastructure such as feedlot facilities and dedicated transport ships to move live cattle from northern Australian ports to Indonesia.”

“Most smallholder farmers keep breeding stock rather than fattening cattle, as they aim to have animals for a longer period to provide progeny to be sold and a continuum of stock to provide manure for cropping. The government has been encouraging the development of cattle breeding to build the national herd, but most cattle breeders have low-input, low output production systems which result in low beef production rates. Consistent with this, as stated by, the nationwide beef cattle productivity in Indonesia is low because of the low reproductive rate of cattle due to low fertility including low conception rates (56%), long calving interval (18 to 21 months), and high calf mortality (5% to 10%) and low body condition score, resulting in slow growth of the national herd. In addition, farmers regularly sell productive females with about 10% to 30% being sold and slaughtered annually despite government regulation against the slaughter of productive females. This has further slowed the growth of the national herd, and all these factors are constraints to the development of domestic beef production in Indonesia.”

Read more: Current Situation and Prospect of Beef Cattle Production in Indonesia — A Review

"Close-up Shot of White Chickens" by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Legal Protection

Animals in agriculture in Indonesia are not protected legally, like in many other countries across the globe. In Indonesia, there are certain regulations and procedural requirements related to farmed animals, such as the acquisition of the license to open and operate a slaughterhouse.

With that being said, Art. 66(1) of Law No. 18 provides the requirements that measures should be taken in the interests of animal welfare, including both physical and mental conditions in relation to capturing animals, animal husbandry, slaughter, and transportation. The same Article also requires that animals shall be free from pain, fear, or pressure during conducting such activities.

Other regulations, such as Chapter 3 of Regulation No. 95 on Veterinary Public Health and Animal Welfare provides that the five freedoms concept shall be applied in a wide variety of activities, which includes transportation, treatment, handling, and placement of animals. Art. 83(4) requires that any activities related to catching, handling, placement, maintenance, transportation, utilization, protection, slaughter, and comparison medical practices shall be done by people who have “competence in the field of animal welfare,” but the definition is too broad. It is unclear whether it is enough to have the certificate on competition of the special courses or the education in the field is required or the education together with experience will be more sufficient. Art. 86 to 99 provide more details on how to conduct the above-mentioned practices; Art. 87-88 relate to caging and housing of animals.

The five freedom concept includes:

Regulation No. 95 also stipulates some considerations for good practice, which includes separating sick from healthy animals, mandating cleanliness, providing medicine for sick animals, and feeding them safely, in accordance with their physiological needs (Art. 5).

The Penal Code of Indonesia contains the article related to animal cruelty, namely it sets out the conditions and parameters on penalizing acts on animal abuse. This might vary from “light maltreatment” of animals to “serious harm, death, or illness of over a week.”

Law No. 18 provides that anyone rearing animals must meet the animals’ needs in a sufficient way for feed and health and that the Government has a duty to foster the development of a domestic industry. Art. 29 contains the provision on the requirement of farmers, husbandry companies, and certain businesses to engage in activities related to rearing animals to have a husbandry business permit and to comply with the good culture procedure of rearing animals without disturbing public order and in accordance with the guidelines stipulated by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Unfortunately, the country lacks any regulations on the practice of rearing pigs, broiler chickens, egg-laying hens, and animals used in the dairy industry.

With regard to transportation, Art. 66(2)(d) of Law No. 18 states that animals shall be free from fear, pressure, and torture. Moreover, Regulation No. 95 provides that transportation should not hurt animals and lead to stress.

During slaughtering and killing, animals shall be free from pain, fear, pressure, torture, and misuse as well. Art. 66(2)(g) states that ill-treatment, torture, and misuse of animals must be avoided. But the regulations are limited by religious norms and faith of people that receive the parts of animals (Art. 61). These regulations are also suspended during various religious ceremonies, festivals, and events. As for the regular practice of slaughter, the killing shall be necessarily conducted in the slaughterhouse and must comply with the “norms of health practiced by veterinarians and welfare of the animal.” Article 61(b) of Law No. 18 on the Farming and Health of Animals requires that “the slaughtering of animals whose meat will be circulated must comply with slaughtering manner which meets with the norm of the health of veterinarian society and animal welfare.” Animals shall also be killed by veterinary force in case if the animal suffers from incurable diseases with due observance of the provision on animal welfare, and that this must be done by a veterinarian or by animal health force under the supervision of a veterinarian.

"Herd of sheep grazing on field" by Maria Orlova from Pexels


The law that Indonesia has with regard to animals cannot be called the effective one but it might be a good starting point for protecting farmed animals if the law is properly enforced and a sufficient amount of prosecution is done. But the problem with the law and regulations is that there are no methods of enforcement provided for the guidelines. Moreover, some legal provisions are too vague and they lack details with regard to the conditions of rearing specific animals used in agriculture. Religious practices of slaughter are another issue that is not aimed at the protection of animals and that may not be properly monitored.

Another issue is in the lack of knowledge and education in rural areas especially and in some parts of the country, where people are unaware of the consequences of the use of animals in agriculture and the necessity for legal protection of animals.

Some acts are penalized, e.g, slaughtering a productive female ruminant is punished by detention and/or a fine. Furthermore, Art. 303 of the Penal Code of Indonesia provides a maximum of imprisonment for up to 3 months or a maximum fine of IDR 300 (USD 0.021) for light maltreatment of animals, including the deliberate cause of pain or deliberately withholding of necessary sustenance. Serious harm, death, or illness for more than a week is penalized by maximum imprisonment for up to 9 months or a maximum fine of IDR 300 (USD 0.021).

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