Understanding the effects of handling, transportation, lairage and slaughter on cattle welfare and beef quality Michael S. Cockram, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada
Handling, transport, lairage and slaughter are important components of beef production that can affect both animal welfare and meat quality. Each stage of pre-slaughter management can potentially present multiple negative welfare issues. These issues can include fear and distress, injury and pain, fatigue and discomfort, and thirst and hunger. The presence of multiple potential stressors and their interactions makes it difficult for commercial operations to completely standardise handling, transport, lairage and
slaughter. It is also difficult to replicate this complexity in a research environment to investigate factors affecting animal welfare and beef quality. Variations in each stage of preslaughter management, variations between cattle and differences in how humans interact with the animals can have significant effects on welfare and meat quality outcomes. Some of the risks of poor welfare can be mitigated by the provision of appropriate facilities and equipment for handling, transport and slaughter. However, their effectiveness is dependent on the training, experience, skill and supervision of the humans that operate the facilities and handle the cattle.