Abstract #273

# 273
Condition of cull dairy cows from farm to slaughter plant.
J. Stojkov*1, D. Fraser1, 1Animal Welfare Program, Faculty of Land and Food Systems, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Cull dairy cows are regularly removed from dairy herds and enter the marketing system which involves transport to auction markets and then to an abattoir. Many cull dairy cows are removed from the herds because of health reasons and their ability to withstand transportation may vary. Moreover, dairy producers lack feedback about potential transport delays and the condition of the cows throughout the transport continuum. The objectives of this study were (1) to follow cull cows from farm to abattoir, (2) to monitor changes in the cows’ condition, and (3) to record transport delays. From May 2017 to March 2018, data were collected from 20 dairy farms, 2 auction markets and at 6 abattoirs in British Columbia, Alberta, and the USA. The dairy farms were visited regularly before cows were shipped and a researcher scored the animals for body condition (BCS; 5-point scale), lameness (5-point scale) and udder condition (3-point scale). Logistic mixed effects models were used to test the effect of transport on the animals’ condition, with cow within farm as random effect. During the study, 1,171 cull cows were removed from participating farms and 714 of those animals were observed at one of the participating abattoirs. After leaving the farms, cows spent on average 82 h in the marketing system until being processed. Including delays at auctions or assembly yards, about 41% of cows were in transit for 4–5 d and 11% for 6–16 d. Regarding distance, 11% were transported 1,100 km from farm to abattoir. The percentage of thin cows increased from 8% at the farm of origin to 22% at the abattoir (P < 0.001). Lameness did not change, but transport increased the development of acute milk accumulation and udder inflammation from 8% at farm of origin to 41% at the abattoir (P < 0.001). At the auctions, 10% of the cows were thin (BCS ≤ 2), 7% were severely lame (lameness score ≥ 4), 13% had udder edema, and 6% had other injuries including abscesses (2.1% of cows), signs of diseases (2.0%), hobbles (0.9%), signs of pneumonia (0.3%), eye injury (0.2%), and lump jaw (0.1%). This information about delays to slaughter and changes in cow condition will now be communicated to producers and veterinarians.

Key Words: livestock market, transport