Animal Behavior and Well-Being Symposium II: Sponsored by Elanco
Interest in the topic of animal welfare continues to grow as knowledge about the quality of life of food animals evolves. Improving management practices that enhance welfare conditions for livestock requires tools that allow livestock caretakers to assess and address animal welfare conditions effectively and practically on farms. Over the past several years, Elanco Animal Health has developed analytical resources for beef cattle and swine producers to inform them on trends associated with finished cattle mobility and mortality, and transport losses in marketed swine. This presentation will share findings from Elanco’s databases and the published literature to inform and foster discussion important to livestock welfare advancements. Relative to finished cattle mobility, data captured from 11.5 M head (2015-2019) demonstrate that cattle mobility continues to trend positively with approximately 90% of cattle observed with normal mobility conditions at packing plants (Edwards-Callaway et al., 2017); however, mortality trends and veterinary medical charges are higher over the past 5 years (2014-2018) when closeout data from 41.8 M head of beef cattle are evaluated across U.S. feedlots. Relative to market weight pig transport losses, an industry survey of 310 M pigs (2012-2015) indicate that averages for total dead pigs, non-ambulatory pigs, and total losses were 0.26%, 0.63%, and 0.88%, respectively (Yoder et al., 2017), which is similar to reported values in the literature (Ritter et al., 2009). Collectively, this information is important for measuring continuous improvement and determining where opportunities exist to evaluate management practices associated with herd health protocols, seasonal impacts, handling, and transport conditions. Animal welfare challenges are a non-compete issue for the livestock industry, and tools to assess these welfare topics are key to the enhancement of current practices and development of novel approaches to positively impact the role that livestock caretakers have on animal welfare.