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Welfare is Worthwhile, to Your Profit and Community

25 November 2014

Meat & Livestock Australia

Animal welfare is core to profit and is worthwhile investing in, Australian producers are being reminded.

Healthy and contented sheep mean more money in producers’ pockets, write Meat and Livestock Australia consultants.  

Also, it provides assurance that community expectations for best practice animal welfare are being met.

MLA invests about $4 million in animal welfare programs each year to lift welfare standards for the benefit of both animals and producers.

MLA’s Animal Welfare Strategy guides the investment of producer levies and industry and government funds and is focused on four areas:

  • Developing replacements and refinements for aversive procedures.
  • Reducing mortality rates on-farm.
  • Increasing uptake and demonstration of welfare best practices.
  • Developing ways to minimise the pain of aversive procedures.
  • According to MLA Sustainability R&D Program Manager Jim Rothwell, animal welfare and producer profitability tend to go hand-in-hand, but producers should focus on more than just dollars.

“Lamb mortality, for example, has a direct correlation with profitability,” Jim said.

“Taking good care of your ewes and lambs by ensuring pregnant ewes are in good condition and lambs are born at the right time of year is good for your bottom line, but also ensures you fulfil your responsibility to do the best job you can for the animals.

“This responsibility is something most producers naturally embrace. Those who don’t – and who don’t practice good welfare – are potentially causing reputational damage to the whole industry.

Jim said community expectations of best practice animal welfare cannot be ignored.

“The community has a legitimate interest in animal welfare, as we learned during the Indonesian live export scandal,” he said.

“If we recognise the community concern is legitimate and act accordingly, it’s the best possible insurance policy for securing our ongoing possession of animals and ability to raise them for profit.”

As well as this market ‘push’ factor, community animal welfare expectations also exert a market ‘pull’, with an increasing number of consumers demanding products branded as clean, green and welfare friendly.

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