We conduct cross-sectoral research
We work with Australia's livestock sectors to determine priority areas for cross-sectoral animal welfare RD&E. This approach delivers economies of scale and a more efficient use of research capability. The Strategy facilitates collaborative, cross-sectoral projects and provides regular updates on commissioned RD&E projects along with project reports.
A national framework for effective environmental enrichment for Australian livestock industries.
Primary industries animal welfare RD&E project register.
Peta Taylor (University of New England) led this project which
i) Identified knowledge gaps, research priorities and opportunities for effective enrichment programs in Australian livestock industries.
ii) Investigated the private benefit-cost analysis of effective enrichments programs identified in the review.
iii) Developed a theoretical framework to identify and demonstrate practical and effective enrichment across intensive components of the livestock industries in an Australian context.
The project was funded by Australian Pork Limited, Meat and Livestock Australia, Australian Eggs Limited and AgriFutures.
This an ongoing project which collates animal welfare RD&E carried out in the Australian livestock sector. Projects are collated and presented at the annual Forum. Our Executive Officer, Jeremy Skuse, maintains the register and the most recent version is available here.
Animal Welfare Project Register - Dec 2019
Animal Welfare Project Register - Dec 2018
Monitoring public attitudes to livestock industries and livestock welfare.
Prof. Grahame Coleman from the Animal Welfare Science Centre at the University of Melbourne is leading this one year project which aims to develop a tool to monitor public perceptions and sources of knowledge relating to animal welfare in the primary industry sector. This will identify trends in community attitudes and behaviour and will assist in the development of communication strategies designed to inform the community on welfare related developments in the livestock industries. The project is funded by Australian Pork Limited, Australian Meat Processors Corporation, LiveCorp, Meat and Livestock Australia and AgriFutures.
Animal welfare research, development and extension capability and infrastructure inventory for the Australian livestock sector.
This project delivered a capability and gaps analysis of primary industries animal welfare Research, Development and Extension (RD&E) in Australia and was commissioned by NAWRDES to provide a point-in-time ‘snap-shot’ of the type, scale and strength of capability currently applied to address industry priorities.
The project was conducted by AgInsight and concluded in 2017.
Final Report Vol I
Final Report Vol II
A systematic review of novel biomarkers for the measurement of pain in animals.
In order to ensure the welfare of animals it is essential to minimise pain following human interventions associated with routine husbandry practices. The emotional or subjective component associated with the experience of pain complicates our understanding of how pain is perceived by an individual. As the general public become more aware and concerned about the painful husbandry procedures that affect livestock, the ability to effectively measure pain experienced by animals becomes essential to aid in the assessment of analgesia techniques. The discovery of new biological markers of pain that can be measured in biological samples such as plasma may hold promise for improving the measurement of pain in the future. Therefore the aims of the study were to scope for and then perform a systematic review of novel pain biomarkers in animal studies.
The project concluded in 2016 and was conducted by Susan Hazel, (Univ Adelaide), Sabrina Lomax (Univ Sydney), Andrew Fisher (AWSC, Univ Melbourne) and Mark Hutchinson (Univ Adelaide).
Exploring stakeholder views towards animal welfare issues using online forums.
Progress in the field of animal welfare is often hindered by differences in stakeholder beliefs and attitudes. Understanding the reasons behind decisions to favour or disfavour some farming practices over others will provide information to direct outreach or research strategies that better align with the needs of industry, the public and other stakeholders. An important antecedent to beliefs about farming practices is knowledge. Indeed, it is often argued by industry that opposition towards some practices are the result of lack of knowledge. Hence, in order to gain a comprehensive understanding of the reasons underlying decisions to favour particular farming practices, one must also measure knowledge.
The aim of this project is to investigate stakeholder beliefs and knowledge towards specific animal welfare issues using online forums. Since online forums are rarely used as a means of data collection, a secondary aim of the project is to explore the usefulness of web based forums as a means of data collection.
This project concluded in 2016 and was conducted by Tiffani Howell, Vanessa Rohlf, Grahame Coleman and Jean-Loup Rault from the Animal Welfare Science Centre (AWSC) at the University of Melbourne.
Toolkit to guide livestock animal welfare contingency planning.
This project developed business contingency planning toolkit to assist livestock businesses to develop a single plan encompassing all risks and hazards to their business with the emphasis on managing an on‐farm animal welfare crisis situation. An Implementation Plan as well as a Promotional Plan was developed that included generic and industry specific promotional documentation and farmer educational material. The materials have been developed into an on-line resource.
This project concluded in 2015 and was conducted by Philip Chamberlain of ROBOR and Chamberlain Veterinary Services Pty Ltd.
The final report is linked to below.
Development of a public attitude monitoring scheme: Monitoring public attitudes to inform animal welfare policy development.
There is growing public concern for animal welfare and this concern has been documented in reports from many industrialised nations. Much of the concern about animal welfare is centred on livestock animals and this is reflected in changing consumer behaviours. Many consumers report thinking about animal welfare when they purchase meat and meat products. These behaviours and the public opinions driving them can have a considerable influence on how Governments either react to publicised ‘animal welfare events’ or regulate contentious management practices in industry. Community behaviours also impact more broadly on the livestock industry’s social licence to practice. It is therefore important to not only measure current concerns of the community but to monitor changes in opinion over time. Knowledge of public perceptions towards the livestock industry and livestock animal welfare can be used to inform the industry of possible changes in practice throughout the supply chain and provide a basis for educating the public where this is desirable. This knowledge will also allow industry and government to align their policies with consumer and community perceptions.
This study concluded in 2014 and was conducted by Grahame Coleman and Vanessa Rohlf (AWSC, Univ Melbourne), Samia Toukhsati (Austin Health) and Dominique Blache (Univ Western Australia).
Assessing the Welfare of Farm Animals – A Review and development and implementation of a Unified Filed Index (UFI).
There is increasing societal concern about the treatment of livestock and their quality of life within production environments. Viable livestock farming requires practices that are not only productive, profitable and sustainable but that fit with society’s expectations on ethical dimensions such as animal welfare. Transparent demonstration of how these expectations have been met will be paramount in the future.
In order to demonstrate that the animal’s physical and emotional needs are being met requires a detailed assessment of their welfare. This is a major challenge as the utility of any welfare assessment methodology will depend on the specific application being assessed, and the ethical views held by the stakeholder group seeking the assessment. The purpose of this review is to explore this subject further by examining the conceptual frameworks, complexities and methodologies for assessing welfare in farm animals.
The specific aims of the project were to:
1. undertake a comprehensive review of the scientific literature on welfare measures and assessment methods to identify the most credible scientific measures/methodologies that could be developed into a uniform field index,
2. recommend where further research to validate welfare concepts and methodologies is required and,
3. propose a UFI for assessing welfare in commercial livestock enterprises.
The project concluded in 2013 and was conducted by Ian Colditz and Drew Ferguson (CSIRO), Teresa Collins (Murdoch Univ), Lindsay Matthews (Lindsay Matthews & Assocs Research International) and Paul Hemsworth (AWSC, Univ Melbourne).
Final Report - Review
Final Report - UFI