The Australian Lot Feeders' Association has announced an initiative to encourage all feedlots to provide cattle with access to shade.
President Bryce Camm said the initiative builds on the feedlot industry's already strong commitment to animal welfare and positions the sector for long term sustainability.
Research undertaken by Meat & Livestock Australia indicates shade has positive outcomes on cattle welfare and comfort, especially during abnormal heat wave conditions. It also showed that shade can result in productivity gains in terms of increased feed intake and hence weight gain at slaughter.
"Shade enables cattle to display natural shade seeking behaviour, aiding in their ability to reduce the impact of environmental extremes and improve comfort," Mr Camm said.
"ALFA has had a long-term interest in animal welfare research, and we continue to support grain fed levy investment through MLA in this area including projects to develop additional types of shade solutions for the feedlot industry," Mr Camm said.
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This initiative builds on an estimated 60 per cent of industry feedlot capacity that already has shade in place by asking all feedlots to invest in capital works to install shade in their facilities.
"ALFA is encouraging all feedlots to consider the benefits that shade brings to the cattle they care for, their enterprise and collectively as an Industry," Mr Camm said.
"We understand the challenges that individual businesses may face in installing shade, hence ALFA is aiming to see shade in all feedlots by 2026 which allows sufficient planning and installation time," Mr Camm said.
ALFA is providing feedlot operators with information on shade design, standards and construction and has developed an on-line Shade Resource Hub to help feedlot operators understand more about the benefits of shade. Information on financing opportunities through Federal and State low interest loans and asset write off incentives is also being made available to feedlot operators to support the installation of shade.
"We know that our consumers expect us to care for our livestock. The initiative to have shade installed in all Australian feedlots demonstrates our collective commitment to prioritising and continuously improving the welfare of cattle under our care," Mr Camm said.