CSIRO researchers are working with Australia’s farming industries to ensure objective science underpins animal welfare standards for road transport practices.
Long distance transport
Long distance transport is a reality in Australia and practicing welfare-unfriendly transport management has the potential to downgrade product quality as well as damage the image of livestock products in the eyes of the consumer. The standards of husbandry and welfare practiced during livestock production are important factors influencing consumer perceptions.
The industry needs to be able to clearly demonstrate, using objective and robust scientific data, that its husbandry practices have acceptable welfare outcomes for livestock.
Determining best practice for transport of livestock
With funding support from Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA), CSIRO researchers based at the FD McMaster Laboratory in Armidale, New South Wales, put together a comprehensive picture of how sheep and cattle cope with trucking under Australian conditions.
This project went further than previous studies by focussing on specific issues such as determining suitable space allowances and minimising bruising.
The researchers assessed the contribution of handling, loading and initial transport processes on the stress responses of cattle to road transport. They used a set of readily accessible welfare measures such as body temperature, bodyweight, behaviour, blood and post-transport productivity to determine the typical welfare of cattle transported under a range of controlled and commercial conditions.
From these studies they were able to develop recommendations on best cattle transport practices.
New Australian standards
The results of this study, completed in 2007, allowed CSIRO scientists to determine the appropriate durations of trucking for healthy sheep and cattle and to develop recommendations on best practice cattle transport management for optimal welfare and productivity.
The research results are now being used by government, industry and animal welfare organisations in the development of new Australian standards for the land transport of production animals.
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