May 4, 2021


Animal welfare practices a top concern with Australia's beef producers, update reveals



Beef producers in Australia are most concerned with animal welfare practices and tracking the industry's sustainability credentials, according to the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework's (ABSF) latest annual update.


The update was released at ABSF's seminar at Beef Australia 2021 in Rockhampton, Australia, on May 4. ABSF defines sustainable beef production and tracks performance over a series of indicators annually.


The chair of the sustainability steering group for ABSF, Tess Herbert, said that, despite a year of unprecedented challenges, the latest update — the fourth since its inception — revealed that the Australian beef industry was heading in the right direction.


"The past year has been like no other – travel restrictions, lockdowns, quarantine and global disruption have disrupted supply chains and important revenue pathways," Herbert said.


"Despite the many challenges, responses to our producer sustainability survey increased four-fold, demonstrating producers are more engaged with the process of promoting industry transparency and progress.


"We've also seen an increase in producer satisfaction, awareness of animal welfare standards and the use of regular pain relief for cattle."


Herbert said that, by working collaboratively within industry and with its customers and investors, the framework was able to provide a clear and transparent report card on where the industry is up to in the areas they care most about.


"Extensive consultation has been undertaken to optimise indicators and collect the data not only to track performance but identify new opportunities and priority areas for the industry," Herbert said.


Key highlights from ABSF's 2021 annual update include:


- The Australian beef industry remains free from all exotic diseases to ensure access to over 100 markets;


- Despite herd rebuild, in 2018, the Australian beef industry had a 51.46% reduction in its carbon footprint since the baseline year of 2005. The figure from last year's report has also been restated from 56.7% to 53.9%. The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources reviews and updates activity data and the inventory methodology each year, and changes are applied retrospectively to past inventories;


- An estimated 30% of producers now use pain relief for routine, necessary husbandry practices. This is has increased from 21% last year.


- The processing sector reduced the amount of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) emitted per tonne carcass weight by 8.1% when processing beef, and further reduced water usage by 7.9%;


- Producers rated their global life satisfaction at 79.45 out of 100, indicating an increase of quality of life from previous years.


- Awareness of Animal Welfare Standards for Cattle has risen to 97.3% from 73%.


- Beef Central