Innovative Race and Knocking Box Design Concepts to Optimise Animal Welfare and Carcase Quality

The objective for this project was to improve the welfare of cattle immediately before and during the event of slaughter at commercial abattoirs. There is growing pressure from consumers, regulators and society to ensure that animals suffer as little as possible, and regulations are becoming more stringent. Unwillingness of an animal to enter a stun box or restrainer is an indicator of stress and is therefore potentially compromises its welfare. If the animal has to be prodded to enter and/or vocalises, its welfare is being compromised even further. This project aimed to identify ways stun boxes and restrainers could be made to appear more inviting to cattle, to improve welfare and plant efficiency.

Milmeq consulted with industry experts to begin generating concepts for improved stun boxes, restrainers and races. Concepts were based on this consultation and existing animal welfare guidelines, such as the work of Temple Grandin. AgResearch were then commissioned to complete a review of existing literature around cattle vision and perception of images. This led to the generation of concepts for using imagery techniques to move cattle forward. A trial protocol was established by reviewing the key measures that animal welfare is currently judged by.