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Open AccessArticle

Developing an Animal Welfare Assessment Protocol for Livestock Transported by Sea

School of Veterinary Medicine, College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education, Murdoch University, Perth 6150, Australia
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2020, 10(4), 705;
Received: 24 February 2020 / Revised: 29 March 2020 / Accepted: 13 April 2020 / Published: 17 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Livestock Transport)
Australia exports large numbers of live cattle and sheep by sea to many destinations. Increasingly high animal welfare standards are being required of all livestock industries, and reports of substantial mortality events on some voyages have raised public concerns regarding animal welfare. Mortality rates alone do not assure stakeholders that livestock experience adequate welfare throughout the voyage. Determining the animal welfare status of large animal consignments is complex and requires many measures that are focused on the environment and resources provided, and also on how the animals respond to their surroundings. A list of measures, appropriate for use on cattle and sheep that enter the livestock export supply chain, was determined by reviewing three international welfare assessment protocols, and consulting the Australian livestock export standards and an animal health handbook used by shipboard veterinarians and stockpersons. After preliminary testing of the measures on a sheep and cattle voyage, we propose a protocol that is potentially practical and applicable for pen assessments for both species at pre-export and destination feedlot facilities and during sea transport. Proposing a protocol is the first step towards developing a system that evaluates livestock welfare throughout the export supply chain, and will contribute to improved industry transparency.
Australian livestock industries face increased scrutiny from animal welfare groups and society, and the long-distance transport of livestock by sea has recently gained particular attention. Other than non-compliance with broad regulatory standards and voyage mortality rates, there is minimal information to ascertain the welfare of exported livestock. There is currently no standardised, validated animal welfare assessment protocol for livestock on-farm prior to live export or when undergoing transport. This study describes a novel assessment protocol suitable for use on live feeder and slaughter animals exported by sea from Australia. Health and welfare indicators for use in the livestock export supply chain were identified by reviewing three internationally recognised animal welfare assessment protocols for livestock; Welfare Quality®, AWIN and AssureWel, as well as consulting with industry compliance standards and guidelines. This paper proposes a welfare protocol designed to assess sheep and beef cattle exported by sea from Australia, and incorporates environmental-, resource-, management- and animal-based measures. In collaboration with industry, this welfare protocol can be tested on commercial livestock consignments, and be used for ongoing management, for increased transparency and to provide feedback to operators for continuous improvement. View Full-Text
Keywords: live export; cattle; sheep; animal health; animal behaviour live export; cattle; sheep; animal health; animal behaviour
MDPI and ACS Style

Dunston-Clarke, E.; Willis, R.S.; Fleming, P.A.; Barnes, A.L.; Miller, D.W.; Collins, T. Developing an Animal Welfare Assessment Protocol for Livestock Transported by Sea. Animals 2020, 10, 705.

AMA Style

Dunston-Clarke E, Willis RS, Fleming PA, Barnes AL, Miller DW, Collins T. Developing an Animal Welfare Assessment Protocol for Livestock Transported by Sea. Animals. 2020; 10(4):705.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Dunston-Clarke, Emma; Willis, Renee S.; Fleming, Patricia A.; Barnes, Anne L.; Miller, David W.; Collins, Teresa. 2020. "Developing an Animal Welfare Assessment Protocol for Livestock Transported by Sea" Animals 10, no. 4: 705.

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