Animal Production Science Animal Production Science Society
Food, fibre and pharmaceuticals from animals

The behaviour and bruising of cattle during transport at different space allowances

GA Eldridge and CG Winfield

Australian Journal of Experimental Agriculture 28(6) 695 - 698
Published: 1988


We investigated the effect of space allowance during transport on behaviour, bruising and welfare of 48 Hereford steers (mean liveweight 400 kg). On 4 occasions, animals from each space allowance, low (0.89 m2/animal), medium (1.16 m2/ animal) and high (1.39 m2/animal) were transported 360 km in the same stock-crate in a standardised manner to an abattoir for slaughter. During transport, the behaviour of the animals was monitored on closed circuit video. On arrival at the abattoir, all animals were placed in lairage in the same yard on each occasion and were handled in a standardised manner at slaughter next day. Carcass measurements made at slaughter included bruise score, muscle pH, weight, fat depth and muscle score. In the high space allowance the animals made significantly (P< 0.05) more movements of >1 m than did animals in the low space allowance. Six animals 'went down' in the low space allowance, but none did so in the other treatments. The carcass weight in the low space allowance was significantly (P<0.05) less than that of the medium space allowance (196 v. 206 kg respectively), and the bruise scores in the low and high space allowance treatments were 4 and 2 times greater respectively than in the medium space allowance treatment (8.2, 4.6 and 1.9 bruise scores respectively; P< 0.01). We conclude that space allowance for cattle during road transport can significantly affect the level of bruising, carcass weight and risk of injury of the animals.

© CSIRO 1988

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