Alberta Feedlot Management Guide: Animal Welfare

 
 
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 Section 6, the Animal Welfare unit of the Alberta Feedlot Management Guide is made up of seven fact sheets providing information on issues surrounding animal welfare of feedlot cattle. The fact sheets begin with highlights from the Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle and then discuss issues such as the transportation of livestock, principles of animal care, the safe handling of disabled cattle, stress issues and animal welfare issues and how they affect the feedlot industry.

Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle
An excerpt from the complete Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Beef Cattle highlighting issues of immediate interest to Alberta producers. The code is designed to be used as an educational tool in the promotion of acceptable management and welfare practices for livestock and includes recommendations on the care and handling of beef cattle. Topics covered include shelter and housing; feed and water; herd management; herd health management; feedlots and auction markets. A table showing windchill factors is included along with contact information for obtaining the complete Code.

Transportation of Livestock
A summary of the responsibilities of shippers, drivers and receivers towards the welfare of cattle which are being transported. Provincial and federal legislation outlines guidelines and policies to help shippers and drivers follow humane practices while transporting livestock. The CF IA has developed a “Decision Tree” as an aid for producers and transporters when deciding which animals are suitable for transport. It is of benefit to the producer to ensure that animals are not handled roughly, for the market value of the final product can be downgraded through rough handling and stress. A list of websites that supply information on transporting livestock as well as applicable provincial and federal regulations is included.

Animal Care – A Cattle Industry Priority
An outline of the general principles of animal care and the roles of Alberta organizations that support responsible animal handling. The Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) Association was created in 1993 to foster industry driven change and understanding in response to animal welfare issues which are of economic concern to producers and handlers, and to address public concerns about the humane treatment of farm animals. In 1998 the Alberta Livestock Protection System (ALPS) was formed to provide a coordinated approach to livestock protection. It is a partnership linking AFAC (representing producers), The Alberta SPCA (representing public concern for animal welfare) and Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development. A list of some key AFAC programs is included.

Emergency Slaughter of Feedlot Cattle
Description of regulatory requirements for the emergency slaughter of feedlot cattle for humane or economic reasons. If it becomes necessary to slaughter an animal before it has reached its intended market weight, salvage and use of the meat is acceptable provided that it is proven to be safe for human consumption and is slaughtered in a humane and sanitary manner. The animal must pass an ante mortem (before slaughter) and post mortem (after slaughter) inspection for its meat to be deemed acceptable for sale or giving away. Options for the humane slaughter of an animal, whether at a licensed abattoir or at the feedlot by the owner or a mobile butcher, are described.

Preventing and Handling Disabled Cattle on the Farm
A discussion aimed at preventing disabilities in feedlot cattle and a review of the proper care, treatment and handling procedures for a disabled animal. A disabled animal is one that has had its state of health compromised due to illness, injury, fatigue or weather and is unable to function normally. The incidence of disability in cattle can be reduced through proper training of handlers and properly designed facilities. A list of recommendations for the safe handling and treatment of cattle in feedlots is included along with suggested methods of humanely moving a disabled animal.

Animal Welfare – What Is It and What Are the Issues for the Feedlot Industry?
A definition of the concept of animal welfare with a review of the management procedures in feedlots that most concern the welfare of the animal. A simple definition of animal welfare from the animal’s perspective is the ability to cope with the environment, as poor welfare results in the reduced fitness of an animal thus reducing its value for the producer. Five welfare concerns for the feedlot industry are discussed with various management options being offered. They include castration, dehorning, branding, pen conditions and handling. The Codes of Practice serve as a guideline for the proper care and handling of livestock and ensure that the well being of the animals is considered by a producer.

Recognizing and Reducing Stress in Feedlot Cattle
A summary of the factors contributing to stress in feedlot cattle and suggested action for producers to take in reducing the stress. Signs of stress in cattle include reduced feed intake, increased sickness and disease and a poorly groomed lethargic appearance. Stress in feedlot cattle is usually the result of poor management practices, and the simple changes that are suggested will produce healthier, more productive animals. Such practices such as getting calves up and eating and drinking as soon as possible after transport; performing routine processing procedures as soon as possible; designing facilities to promote animal movement, thus reducing fear; and providing appropriate protection against climate extremes can all contribute to reducing stress in calves thus increasing productivity.

 
 
 
 
For more information about the content of this document, contact Kimberly Comeau.
This information published to the web on February 25, 2009.