Fit & Feeling Good – AWO Update, Spring 2015

02 September 2015

Dear Feedlot Animal Welfare Officer,

Ensuring good animal welfare outcomes is a priority for the Australian cattle feedlot industry. This newsletter has been developed to provide support and information on the successful implementation and auditing of good animal husbandry practices on your feedlot.

Update on progress of the Animal Welfare Officer Training Assessments

Close to 150 people in total attended the Feedlot Animal Welfare Officer (AWO) Training courses held earlier this year. Feedback from the training was very positive with participants reporting that “the training increased their knowledge and understanding of animal welfare” and “will improve how they audit animal welfare”.

An impressive 90% of participants have now completed and submitted their assignments and you should receive confirmation shortly if your training and assessment requirements have been satisfied. Successful participants will then be issued with a Certificate of Attainment from TAFE South West Queensland for the AWO Skills Set in the following units of competency:

  • MTMP2010A Apply animal welfare and handling requirements
  • MTMP414A Oversee humane handling of animals.

ALFA is planning to run further AWO training courses in the second half of 2016 for those feedlots and feedlot staff that missed out this year. Details will be posted on the new ALFA online Events Calendar at – be sure to keep an eye out for when registrations open.

What are some of the potential animal welfare issues that you should be addressing this season?

  • Feedlots in NSW and the Southern Australia are reporting on-going wet weather, impacting on pen conditions and cattle comfort, and potentially increasing the risk of lameness due to persistent soft hooves.
  • There are large numbers of heifers on feed at the moment and it’s important that you are across your documented Pregnancy and Calving Management Plan and implementing agreed actions to either avoid having pregnant cattle on the feedlot or to ensure that they are managed appropriately. It is especially important to put actions in place to avoid pregnant cattle calving down in wet, muddy pens.
  • Don’t forget to ensure your hospital pens are well-maintained and kept as dry as possible whilst you are out cleaning the production pens.

Animal welfare in the news

International retailer Walmart, has recently announced a new animal welfare policy that covers its supply chain.Thepolicy is consistent with the Five Freedoms of animal welfare by the UK Farm Animal Welfare Council, and specifically Walmart’s meat suppliers must do the following:

  1. Report cases of animal abuse and take corrective action.
  2. Find and implement solutions to address concerns about housing systems, painful procedures, and euthanasia or slaughter.
  3. Provide progress reports to Walmart and publicly report on their corporate animal welfare position annually.

Feedlot Veterinarian and AWO Trainer Dr Tony Batterham (Quirindi Feedlot Services) reported that if a similar policy was implemented here in Australia the feedlot industry would easily be able to meet these above requirements. “All of us that work with and care for animals on feedlots would not hesitate to report cases of animal abuse should they occur” he said, “and all AWO certified feedlot staff are now well equipped to identify and implement solutions to animal welfare concerns and to provide progress reports as required”. Dr Batterham also stated that the HACCP process, which is addressed in the AWO training, “is ideally suited to support these requirements”.

Learnings from Animal Welfare Officer training driving positive outcomes at Long Gully Feedlot

Long Gully Feedlot, in Victoria, has been working to improve their animal health and welfare outcomes on the feedlot for some time. However, as a result of what they learnt at the Animal Welfare Officer training in Wagga Wagga earlier this year, they were encouraged to introduce additional changes to their operations. “Whilst many procedures and protocols had been in development regarding these issues, the implementation encouraged by the Welfare Course combined with further staff training and interaction, has and will continue to improve the animal welfare outcomes at Long Gully” said Natalie Hutchinson – Livestock Health/Feedlot Hand.

Some of the recent changes to the operations of the Long Gully Feedlot that have resulted in positive improvements to animal health and welfare outcomes on the feedlot include:

  • Improved lighting over the yards and unload race allows cattle to load and unload easier, safer and with less stress than had been experienced previously.
  • Rubber matting and baulk fencing in front of crush area allowing the cattle to leave the crush area with less chance of slipping and further stress that had been leading to unnecessary injuries.
  • Improved wash-down facilities ensure the cattle experience sure-footedness and confidence whilst in the yards, this is also creating an environment with improved hygiene for both the animals and staff.
  • Arrival cattle are immediately placed onto hay into a dedicated holding yard where next day they are then identified, recorded and assessed for injury prior to joining the pen lot that is accumulating for the weekly lot process. These yards are exclusive to newly arrived healthy cattle, with no ill-health cattle allowed in them.
  • The frequency of water trough cleaning has increased from fortnightly and monthly in some cases to weekly to encourage improved cattle feed intake and ultimately reduce risk of disease transfer.

As well as improvements to the health and welfare of the cattle the changes that have been implemented at Long Gully Feedlot have also resulted in improved profitability for the business, Natalie observed that “Changes put in place as a result of outcomes from the animal welfare audit assessment, such as improved management of pregnant heifers and injured cattle, has enabled a greater chance of improved salvage value whilst resulting in higher welfare standards, and better general animal wellbeing on the feedlot.”

For more information, contact:

Bridget Peachey
Manager, Policy and Projects
Australian Lot Feeders’ Association
L 5, 131 Clarence St
Sydney NSW 2000
Ph:  02 9290 3700
Fax: 02 9290 2808