There has been an overwhelming response to a sheep industry survey from farmers, scientists and consumers, which questioned attitudes and practices relating to animal wellbeing.
More than 1530 responses were received to the survey conducted over recent weeks by the Animal Welfare Science Centre (AWSC) and the Cooperative Research Centre for Sheep Industry Innovation (Sheep CRC) in conjunction with the University of Melbourne and Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA).
The producer section of the survey was designed to identify how producers currently monitor wellbeing or identify animals needing treatment or care. A number of the producer respondents have also volunteered to participate in focus groups over coming months to examine in more detail the issues identified in the survey.
"As has been demonstrated by the high response rate to this survey, animal wellbeing is of utmost importance to the Australian sheep industry," Sheep CRC chief executive James Rowe said.
"Sheep producers genuinely care for the health and wellbeing of their animals and invest heavily in farm management practices, but protecting animals from threats to their health and wellbeing in extensive operating environments remains a major logistical challenge.
"This survey is a first step to improve our knowledge in this area and to identify new methods to improve wellbeing standards on Australian farms."
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.
Its animal wellbeing research program aims to develop new risk management information, automated animal monitoring and data management systems to support pro-active management decisions.
The data from the survey will be analysed over coming weeks, which will be used to fine-tune the Sheep CRC’s research in this area.
"Further improving wellbeing standards will require a significant investment, which the industry is making to ensure that Australian sheep are provided with enhanced levels of care and protection," Prof. Rowe said.
More positions are available for producers interested in participating in the Sheep Wellbeing focus groups. Producers wishing to volunteer should contact Janelle Holzberger at the Sheep CRC on (02) 6773 2927 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
More information about the Sheep CRC’s animal wellbeing research program is available at www.sheepcrc.org.au.
Media contact: Michael Thomson on 07 4927 0805 / 0408 819 666