Report Synopsis

The Collateral Benefits of Cattle Welfare during Handling and Transport

Alistair Corr

The challenge facing the Australian beef industry is to increase productivity and profitability whilst satisfying or exceeding consumer expectations in order to retain market share against other proteins. Amongst several strategies to achieve this, the understanding, focus and continual improvement of animal wellbeing during handling and transport of beef cattle, has the potential for benefits that can be extended throughout the supply chain.

Through understanding the cause and effect of stress on cattle, the basis can be formed for knowing where to target improvements in order to achieve production gains, or to mitigate against production losses or discounts. The strategies to minimise stress and accomplish these benefits are:

  • Use stock handling techniques that recognise cattle’s reaction to pressure and stress and its release.
  • Using facility design to provide an environment where animals can be effectively handled.
  • Use supplements to influence the physiological response of animals to stressors.
  • Employ monitoring devices to better understand environmental influences during transport.

The value of these strategies can be realised at a retail and market share level, by advocating the standards that the production systems abide by and demonstrating these through reporting and transparency. Significant consumer confidence also arises from engaging with the consumer and creating an understanding of cattle and beef production, which allows for informed purchasing choices.

This report is targeted at the producers of the Australian beef industry as they have the biggest influence on the quality of the product and also the responsibility to uphold the highest standards of animal welfare. Through providing and sharing information about the techniques and tools available to producers that can improve profitability, improved animal welfare outcomes will be an inevitable consequence.

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