CSIRO Livestock Industries scientist, Dr Caroline Lee, monitoring cattle behaviour at Armidale, NSW. (CSIRO)

CSIRO Livestock Industries scientist, Dr Caroline Lee, monitoring cattle behaviour at Armidale, NSW. (CSIRO)

Animal 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.

  • 20 January 2011 | Updated 12 November 2012

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.

We are doing research to help breed production animals that are better adapted to a range of production environments.

This research is focused on:

  • developing DNA tests to identify cattle and sheep that are naturally resistant to parasites and flystrike
  • identifying drug resistance genes in parasites, using modern DNA sequencing technology
  • developing a cell-based test system, which does not require the use of animals, for generating improved anti-parasite vaccines
  • developing high-throughput tests that identify and characterise new classes of anti-parasite drugs.

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. 

This research includes:

  • assessing current standards of husbandry practices and wherever possible developing improved alternatives that cause minimal pain to production animals
  • developing objective measures of animal welfare, such as stress levels, preferred feed, and stocking density of animals in a range of situations, including transport
  • developing new methods to assess 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.

Our research and outcomes

Breeding the horns out of cattle

A discovery by CSIRO scientists has been central to the development of an accurate DNA test that may help the Australian cattle industry end the painful practice of dehorning beef cattle.

Breeding for Breech Strike Resistance

We collaborate with the sheep and wool industry to develop alternatives to mulesing, including breeding sheep that are genetically resistant to breech flystrike.

Combating the sheep blowfly

Funded by late sheep grazier Les Bett, CSIRO is continuing its research to eliminate blowfly strike – a devastating disease that affects sheep.

Improving conditions for livestock - on the road

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

Animals in research

Research involving animals is an important public issue. Find out why and how animals are involved in CSIRO research, and read about CSIRO’s procedures to safeguard the welfare of animals in research.

Our partners

Our key collaborators and supporters are: