Abstracts: Australian regulation of animal use in science and education: a critical appraisal 

One of the touchstone principles in Australia’s regulation of the use of animals for scientific and educational purposes is reduction, refinement and replacement (3Rs). However, the use of animals for scientific and educational purposes is increasing in Australia, raising concerns about the effectiveness of the current regulatory framework in achieving the objectives of the 3Rs. Continue reading Abstracts: Australian regulation of animal use in science and education: a critical appraisal 

The effects of depriving feed to facilitate transport and slaughter in sheep – a case study of cull ewes held off pasture for different periods

AIM: To determine the ability of sheep to mobilise their body reserves after being deprived of feed prior to transport for slaughter.

METHODS: A total of 240 3- and 4-year-old cull ewes were held off pasture for 0, 9, 18 or 30 hours (n=60 per group) then transported 1 hour by road, unloaded and washed, held in . . . → Read More: The effects of depriving feed to facilitate transport and slaughter in sheep – a case study of cull ewes held off pasture for different periods

Abstracts: Description of a novel fatigue syndrome of finished feedlot cattle following transportation

Ensuring appropriate animal welfare is a high priority for the beef industry, and poorly defined abnormalities in the mobility of cattle at abattoirs have gained considerable attention recently.

During the summer of 2013, abattoirs throughout the United States reported concerns about nonambulatory or slow and difficult to move cattle and cattle that sloughed hoof walls.

This report describes various cattle that developed these mobility problems soon after arrival at an abattoir. Continue reading Abstracts: Description of a novel fatigue syndrome of finished feedlot cattle following transportation

Heat stress: A major contributor to poor animal welfare associated with long-haul live export voyages

Recent investigations by the Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry into high mortalities on live export voyages from Australia to the Middle East during the Northern hemisphere summer suggest that animal welfare may be compromised by heat stress.

The live export industry has generated a computer model that aims to assess the risk of heat stress and to contain mortality levels on live export ships below certain arbitrary limits.

Although the model must be complied with under Australian law, it is not currently available for independent scientific scrutiny, and there is concern that the model and the mandated space allowances are inadequate. Continue reading Heat stress: A major contributor to poor animal welfare associated with long-haul live export voyages

Vet Ethics: A badger brouhaha

The badger is one of those animals to have shuffled its way into the human imagination. My first exposure to badger folklore was when my father told me that a harassed badger could be uncommonly fierce, and that, like a wolverine or a Tasmanian Devil, he packed a punch beyond his diminutive size. This idea of a small British creature taking on large dogs, or even wolves and bears, appealed to a young boy’s imagination.

Around the same time, I read about Badger from Wind in the Willows. Badger was short-tempered, intimidating, and did not suffer fools gladly – the fool, of course, being Mr Toad. Bill Murray’s badger character from the recent Fantastic Mr Fox film fought – or “cussed” – with George Clooney’s Mr Fox. Badgers have also featured in stories by Richard Adams, Beatrix Potter, Lewis Carroll, and in an episode of The Simpsons.

Badgers have been eaten and used for their pelts in various parts of the world. Until the 1800s, they were subject to baiting in the UK. Things have somewhat changed. Now badgers in Britain (the European badger is called Meles Meles) have greater security in the form of the Protection of Badgers Act 1992, which prescribes criminal penalties for harming or killing the animals. Prior to that, they were gassed in their setts to prevent the spread of Bovine Tuberculosis (bTB).

As I write, badgers are once again in the news in the UK. Brian May has just led a demonstration in London against the Tory Government’s plan to cull some of them. May, from the rock group Queen, released a very Queen-esque snippet – a short song of protest called Badger, Badger, Badger. This old rocker is an eloquent spokesperson for the anti-cull side. He is joined by Bill Oddie, for many years an enthusiastic advocate for wild British creatures. Oddie is now looking as fiercely resolute as a wounded badger. Some other celebrities, plus the Badger Trust and the RSPCA, are similarly set against the cull. Continue reading Vet Ethics: A badger brouhaha