Impact of Amended Feedlot Pen Surface on Cattle Health and Welfare, Environmental and Economic Sustainability
DR. STEVE HENDRICK
COALDALE VETERINARY CLINIC
February 2016 - April 2019
This research project aims to assess the social, environmental, technological and economic performance (positive, negative or neutral) associated with housing feedlot cattle in roller compacted concrete (RCC) floor pens versus traditional clay floor pens. The primary objective of the project is to assess the following sustainability indicators:
- Social: Cattle Health and Welfare - lameness rates; mud scores; and physiological and behavioural indicators of cattle welfare.
- Environmental: Water - runoff volume and water quality (contaminants); Air - ammonia emissions; Climate Change - greenhouse gas emissions; Soil - pen soil quality (contaminant levels); Manure - volume at cleanout and quality (composition and contaminant levels)
- Technological: RCC - compressive strength, floor thickness, density, durability and potential mobility of heavy metals introduced via the use of fly ash in the RCC
- Economic: Cattle - average daily gain and tag scores; Manure - handling costs; Clay - handling costs and pen floor maintenance costs; RCC - construction costs and maintenance costs.
Goal #7:Promote excellence in animal care
This integrated, multi-faceted research project is investigating the merits associated with the adoption of an alternative production management practice (concrete versus clay floor pens). These attributes seem applicable to several indicators, including:
- Riparian areas, wetlands, surface and ground water sources and nutrient runoff are responsibly managed to help maintain or enhance watershed health.
- Soil health is maintained or enhanced.
- Practices that support carbon sequestration and minimize emissions are understood and/or employed.
- Air quality for people and animals is responsibly managed.
- A healthy and safe work environment is provided.
- Animal health and welfare is monitored and maintained as per the relevant National Farm Animal Care Council Code of Practice; sick and injured animals are treated appropriately.
- Steps are taken to mitigate/minimize animal pain and distress.
- Feeding areas and pastures allow cattle to express normal behaviours including resting postures.
- Unnecessary animal stress is minimized.
- Operation reduces, reuses and recycles, as feasible facilities, services and technologies exist or become available.
- Energy resources are responsibly used.
- Innovation and technology are utilized to improve responsible production.
- Continuous learning regarding beef production is pursued.
An extension plan has been developed by the project team, and will be used to disseminate the multiple project outcomes as of 2019. The project objectives were presented at the 2017 Manure Management Update conference in Lethbridge to feedlot operators, among others. The presentation and an accompanying one-pager can be found at: http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/epw16243