Animal Health and Welfare

We are working to ensure that livestock production is managed ethically, using practices that reduce diseases, stress and pain in farm animals.

The Challenge

Disease, stress and pain in livestock

Disease, stress and pain in farm animals can affect productivity and limit market access. Science plays an essential role in animal welfare by improving handling, transport and husbandry.

CSIRO has developed many practical tools to assist Australia's rural sector, such as vaccines, diagnostic tests, treatments and mineral supplements which all contribute to better health and welfare for Australia’s livestock.

Our Response

Improving livestock health and welfare

We are working to ensure that livestock production systems are managed through ethical and socially acceptable practices that reduce the incidence and level of diseases, stress and pain in farm animals.

Improving livestock health

Parasites, such as ticks, are increasingly developing resistance to anti-parasite drugs, and new drugs are needed. On the other hand, some animals are naturally resistant to parasites and these animals may be good candidates for breeding programs.

We are working to improve the health of livestock by developing a range of solutions to control parasites that affect cattle and sheep, including worms, ticks and flystrike.

CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong, Victoria, is a national facility for disease diagnosis, research and policy advice in animal health.

The facility develops new diagnostic tests, vaccines and therapeutics for a range of animal diseases, both endemic and exotic.

Improving livestock welfare

We are supporting ethical livestock production through a range of approaches that aim to minimise the stress of modern production systems on the animals.

We are assessing current standards of husbandry practices and wherever possible developing improved alternatives that cause minimal pain to production animals.

We are developing objective measures of animal welfare, such as stress levels, preferred feed, and stocking density of animals in a range of situations, including transport and assessing the emotional states of livestock (how they feel) in response to common management practices.

Based on this research we are providing scientific advice on the development and refinement of welfare regulations, guidelines and codes of practice used by Australian livestock producers.

We also work to ensure our code of practice for livestock protection and welfare is communicated and implemented within CSIRO.

Case studies

  • Breeding hornless cattle

    A discovery by CSIRO scientists is central to the Australian Poll Gene Marker test, which is helping Australian cattle breeders select the best breeding cattle for their herds. It may also help the industry end the painful practice of dehorning beef cattle.

  • Measuring how farm animals ‘feel’

    We are researching ways to improve the welfare of livestock by developing scientific methods for assessing how animals 'feel' in response to common management practices.

  • Improving conditions for livestock - on the road

    CSIRO researchers are working with Australia’s farming industries to ensure objective science underpins animal welfare standards for road transport practices.


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