One of the most critical welfare issues to get right is making sure that animals are fit-to-load.
Our colleagues in the Australian Livestock and Property Agents Association have gone out into the industry and the rural media last week, specifically reminding producers that unfit stock are ‘unacceptable anywhere in the supply chain’.
ALPA is pointing to the example set by some saleyards which have introduced ‘livestock disposal fees’ for unfit stock. Those fees are charged to the producer.
According to ALPA, most saleyard managers in the country already have the legal authority to destroy unfit stock. They’re saying that those saleyards which have started charging producers a fee for disposing of unfit animals have seen a sharp fall in welfare problems.
ALPA deserve to be congratulated for going public on the need to explore new approaches like this.
Our members regularly complain that, at a few saleyards, there are site managers and agents who don’t want to be left with ‘the problem’ of an unsold, unfit animal. There can be a lot of pressure on our members to, literally, make the problem go away.
Whether charging producers a fee is the right solution may be something for our National Council to discuss in coming weeks. No doubt some thought will need to be given to whether it may have unintended consequences, or whether it needs to be an industry-wide solution in order to have impact.
But as a general principle, creating a price incentive to actually fix these problems at their source must surely seem to be an idea worth further exploration.