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Stakeholders' assessment of welfare indicators for sheep and cattle exported by sea from Australia

By M. K. Pines, J. C. Petherick, J. B. Gaughan, C. J. C. Phillips

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An adaptive conjoint analysis was used to evaluate stakeholders' opinion of welfare indicators for ship-transported sheep and cattle, both onboard and in pre-export depots. In consultations with two nominees of each identified stakeholder group (government officials, animal welfare representatives, animal scientists, stockpersons, producers/pre-export depot operators, exporters/ship owners and veterinarians), 18 potential indicators were identified. Three levels were assigned to each using industry statistics and expert opinion, representing those observed on the best and worst 5% of voyages and an intermediate value. A computer-based questionnaire was completed by 135 stakeholders (48% of those invited). All indicators were ranked by respondents in the assigned order, except fodder intake, in which case providing the amount necessary to maintain bodyweight was rated better than over or underfeeding, and time in the pre-export assembly depot, in which case 5 days was rated better than 0 or 10 days. The respective Importance Values (a relative rating given by the respondent) for each indicator were, in order of declining importance: mortality (8.6%), clinical disease incidence (8.2%), respiration rate (6.8%), space allowance (6.2%), ammonia levels (6.1%), weight change (6.0%), wet bulb temperature (6.0%), time in assembly depot (5.4%), percentage of animals in hospital pen (5.4%), fodder intake (5.2%), stress-related metabolites (5.0%), percentage of feeding trough utilised (5.0%), injuries (4.8%), percentage of animals able to access food troughs at any one time (4.8%), percentage of animals lying down (4.7%), cortisol concentration (4.5%), noise (3.9%), and photoperiod (3.4%). The different stakeholder groups were relatively consistent in their ranking of the indicators, with all groups nominating the same top two and at least five of the top seven indicators. Some of the top indicators, in particular mortality, disease incidence and temperature, are already recorded in the Australian industry, but the study identified potential new welfare indicators for exported livestock, such as space allowance and ammonia concentration, which could be used to improve welfare standards if validated by scientific data. The top indicators would also be useful worldwide for countries engaging in long distance sea transport of livestock.

Date 2007
Publication Title Animal Welfare
Volume 16
Issue 4
Pages 489-498
ISBN/ISSN 0962-7286
Language English
Author Address Centre for Animal Welfare and Ethics, School of Veterinary Science, The University of Queensland, Gatton, QLD 4343, Australia.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Ammonia
  2. Animal diseases
  3. Animal nutrition
  4. Animal physiology
  5. Animal rights
  6. Animal science
  7. Animal transport
  8. Animal welfare
  9. Australasia
  10. Australia
  11. Body weight
  12. Cattle
  13. Cleaning
  14. Clinical aspects
  15. Commonwealth of Nations
  16. Cortisol
  17. Developed countries
  18. Feeding
  19. Feeds
  20. Fodder
  21. Foraging
  22. Hydrocortisone
  23. Indicators
  24. Livestock
  25. Mammals
  26. Mathematics and statistics
  27. Metabolites
  28. mortality
  29. Noise
  30. Oceania
  31. OECD countries
  32. photoperiodism
  33. Questionnaires
  34. Respiration
  35. Sheep
  36. standards
  37. temperatures
  38. trauma
  39. underfeeding
  40. Veterinarians
  41. Veterinary medicine
  42. Veterinary surgery
  43. Wool producing animals
  44. World