The performance of the beef plants in Australia and New Zealand is very similar to the U.S. A summary of the average scores on the five core criteria are shown in Tables 1 and 2.
|Stunning Efficiacy First Shot||95.9%||98.0%||98.1%||97.2%||98.3%|
|Bleed Rail Insensibility||100.0%||100.0%||99.9%||99.9%||100.0%|
|Dragging of Sensible Animals||0.0%||0.0%||0.1%||0.0%||0.0%|
|Slipping or Falling During Handling||0.5%||0.9%||0.2%||0.4%||0.3%|
|Use of Electric Prod||24.3%||16.6%||17.9%||13.7%||15.0%|
|Stunning Efficiacy First Shot||98%||99%|
|Bleed Rail Insensibility||100%||100%|
|Dragging of Sensible Animals||0%||0%|
|Slipping or Falling During Handling||1%||0%|
|Use of Electric Prod||20%||22%|
The average percentage of cattle stunned correctly on the first shot is almost identical in the U.S. and Australia. However, out of 39 Australia beef plants, 2 plants (5%) had a serious problem with stunning, and less than 90% of the cattle were stunned on the first shot (Table 3).
|Stunning Efficacy First Shot||Number of Plants||% of Plants||Number of Plants||% of Plants||Variance from 2005|
|99% to 100% - Excellent||17||45%||20||74%||29%|
|95% to 98% - Acceptable||16||42%||5||19%||-24%|
|90% to 94% - Not Acceptable||3||8%||1||4%||-4%|
|Less than 90% - Serious Problem||2||5%||1||4%||-2%|
Both Australia and New Zealand did a good job of making sure that all the cattle were insensible. In both Australia and New Zealand the eye reflexes are routinely checked before plugging the weasand (esophagus). Their procedures for blocking the weasand are not done in the U.S. The three Australian beef plants I visited had stunning scores of 100%, 95%, and 98%. All cattle (100%) were rendered insensible. The five Australian plants that did poorly on the stunning audit may have done so partially due to small sample sizes. In small plants sometimes less than 20 cattle are scored. Eighty-eight percent of the Australian plants passed the vocalization audit (Table 4).
|Vocalization||Number of Plants||% of Plants||Number of Plants||% of Plants||Variance from 2005|
|0% to 1% - Excellent||17||44%||14||52%||8%|
|2% to 3% - Acceptable||12||31%||8||30%||-1%|
|4% to 5% - Borderline Acceptable||5||13%||2||7%||-5%|
|6% to 10% - Not Acceptable||3||8%||2||7%||0%|
|Over 10% - Serious Problem||2||5%||1||4%||-1%|
The three beef plants I visited had vocalization scores of 1%, 0%, and 7%. The 7% score was in a plant that handled newly weaned pasture raised veal calves weighing about 400 lbs (180 kb). They had been removed from their mothers before coming to the plant. Their vocalizations were mostly not associated with an obvious aversive event such as electric prods.
Table 5 shows a combined slipping and falling score. Only one plant failed in slipping and falling. In the three plants I visited, the scores for falling were 0%, 0%, and 0%.
|Slipping or Falling During Handling||Number of Plants||% of Plants||Number of Plants||% of Plants||Variance from 2005|
|0% to 1% - Excellent||35||90%||26||96%||7%|
|2% to 3% - Acceptable||2||5%||1||4%||-1%|
|4% to 5% - Borderline Acceptable||1||3%||0||0%||-3%|
|6% to 10% - Not Acceptable||1||3%||0||0%||-3%|
|Over 10% - Serious Problem||0||0%||0||0%||0%|
Table 6 shows the scores for electric prod use. Ninety-two percent of the Australian plants passed. In the three plants I visited, the electric prod scores were 19%, 0%, and 8%.
|Use of Electric Prod||Number of Plants||% of Plants||Number of Plants||% of Plants||Variance from 2005|
|Under 5% - Excellent||10||26%||4||15%||-11%|
|6% to 25% - Acceptable||26||67%||18||67%||0%|
|26% to 50% - Not Acceptable||3||8%||5||19%||11%|
|Over 50% - Serious Problem||0||0%||0||0%||0%|
Tables 1 and 2 show the average electric prod scores for New Zealand were slightly higher than in Australia. This may be partially due to large numbers of Holstein dairy cattle. These animals are slower and sometimes more difficult to move. This is the reason why the guideline allows an electric prod to be used on 25% of the animals.
Another area that needs improvement is weaning methods for pasture raised veal calves. Weaning by putting them on a truck is highly stressful. Pre-weaning methods need to be developed. This will have to be done carefully to avoid an increase in sickness. This is one area that will need to be researched. The use of low stress weaning methods such as fenceline weaning needs to be investigated.
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