The Australian red meat industry is set to develop a tool that will measure animal welfare and demonstrate its commitment to continuous improvement. For this project, which is one of the largest investments our industry has made in livestock welfare to date, Meat & Livestock Australia (through MLA Donor Company MDC) has collaborated with some of the country’s leading researchers. The 50:50 partnership between MDC and collaborating research bodies will see up to $35 million invested over five years.
This unprecedented funding will allow for strategic, innovative research that will lead to valuable and long-lasting outcomes. To date, 10 R&D projects have been approved and will look at issues including the improvement or replacement of aversive practices such as branding, dehorning and castration. Tools to improve the early detection of disease, test immunity and the reduction of mortality rates will also be explored.
According to MLA’s general manager of research, development & innovation, the five-year project will develop a framework for risk assessment, monitoring and data analysis in order to improve welfare management of cattle and sheep as they progress through the supply chain. “The project is built on the concept of welfare performance as a continuum,” he says, “rather than a pass/fail assessment. This change in the approach to welfare should enable the industry to engage in ongoing improvement of practices that affect animal welfare… Securing ongoing consumer and community support for the red meat industry by continuously improving animal welfare is a key priority of the livestock production sector.”