In one of the largest investments in livestock welfare research to date, Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), through MLA Donor Company (MDC), has collaborated with some of the country’s leading researchers in a new partnership to undertake ground-breaking projects focused on animal welfare.
The Strategic Partnership for Animal Welfare Research, Development and Adoption (RD&A) has been launched by the group of organisations with a shared commitment to improving the Australian livestock industry’s already world-class animal welfare practices.
The Partnership involves MDC collaborating with research bodies including CSIRO Armidale; Animal Welfare Science Centre which includes the University of Melbourne, Agriculture Victoria and South Australian Research and Development Institute; University of Queensland; Charles Sturt University; University of Western Australia; University of Sydney; NSW Department of Primary Industries and University of Adelaide.
The 50:50 partnership between MDC and collaborating research bodies will see up to $35 million invested over five years.
To date, ten R&D projects have been approved and a further two are under consideration.
Details of these projects can be viewed at www.mla.com.au/animalwelfarepartnership.
MLA Program Manager, Animal Health Welfare and Biosecurity, Dr Jim Rothwell, said RD&A projects would look at such issues as the improvement or replacement of aversive practices such as branding, dehorning, and castration.
“Tools to improve the early detection of disease, test immunity and the reduction of mortality rates will also be explored,” Dr Rothwell said.
Dr Rothwell said the unprecedented commitment of funds would allow for strategic, innovative research that would lead to valuable and long-lasting outcomes.
“Securing ongoing consumer and community support for the red meat industry by continuously improving animal welfare is a key priority of the livestock production sector,” Dr Rothwell said.
“Animal welfare is one of the core pillars of the Meat Industry Strategic Plan (MISP) 2020 and one of the six strategic pillars of MLA’s Strategic Plan 2016-2020.
“Australia’s livestock industry understands the importance of animal welfare both to its own producers and to the community, and is proactive in seeking to continually improve animal welfare outcomes. The Strategic Partnership for Animal Welfare RD&A will allow our leading researchers to undertake long-term projects that haven’t been done before due to funding limitations.”
The partnership is governed by a management committee consisting of a scientific representative from each financial member, and chaired by internationally-renowned livestock researcher Professor Emeritus Alan Bell.
The committee will be responsible for peer review of projects, ensuring projects comply with the objectives of the MISP and organising an annual forum. MLA will support the committee and be the lead coordinator.