Team and Leader R W J Steen
Organisations involved Agricultural Research Institute of Northern Ireland, Hillsborough and Food Science Division, Department of Agriculture
Background and Summary
Increasing public concern for the welfare of farm animals has generated concern amongst some supermarket buyers of beef that the use of slatted accommodation may convey an image of poor animal welfare to consumers.
Consequently there is reluctance by them to purchase cattle from slatted accommodation. The objectives of this project are to examine the effects of using slatted accommodation for beef cattle on welfare, behaviour and the performance of the cattle, and to compare conventional slatted floor housing with modified slatted flooring, (e.g. slats covered with comfort matting) and straw-bedded accommodation.
This project would provide support to the Northern Ireland beef industry in the use of slatted accommodation for beef cattle if slats are found to be welfare friendly, and would provide scientific data to support the use of more welfare friendly modifications to slats (e.g. use of comfort matting) if slats are found to be welfare unfriendly. It is also hoped that data will be produced which will enable welfare friendly modifications to slats to be accepted by groups such as Freedom Foods, who will not accept cattle from slatted accommodation whether slats are shown to be welfare friendly or not.