Researchers have begun a series of sheep producer focus groups to examine in detail current monitoring practices and their attitudes towards animal welfare. The focus groups will drill down into preliminary findings from a recent survey of producers, researchers, service providers and the general public conducted by the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC), the Animal Welfare Science Centre (AWSC), Melbourne University, the University of New England and Meat and Livestock Australia.
The survey data is currently being peer reviewed and will be submitted for publication in a scientific journal in coming months.
The first focus group was held last month in Dubbo, NSW, with more planned for Wagga Wagga, NSW, Hamilton, Vic, and Katanning, WA, over coming months.
“Wellbeing is an increasingly important component of modern sheep production and an important aspect of product quality for many consumers,” Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe said. “Developing strategies to pro-actively manage the wellbeing of grazing animals is a new approach and will take time to achieve, and for industry research to succeed in this area it is vital that we have a clear understanding of current attitudes and practices.”
The focus groups are part of a larger effort to understand attitudes to animal welfare and to identify key areas where further scientific research could deliver improvements.
The Sheep CRC is a collaboration of industry and government with the aim of increasing the productivity and profitability of the industry through the utilisation of new technologies in both the meat and wool supply chains. The research findings will feed into the Sheep CRC’s animal wellbeing research program which aims to develop new risk management information, automated animal monitoring and data management systems to support pro-active management decisions.
Media contact: Michael Thomson on 07 4927 0805 / 0408 819