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Executive Director's Message:

This week’s webinar is on the subject of animal health and welfare and its contribution to sustainability. 

We will be hearing from Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, executive director of Health for Animals, and some of our Animal Health and Welfare working group.

FAO and the Global Dairy Platform, together with GRA, recently produced this document on the role of animal health in national climate commitments. This goes into some of the specific details about how countries report emission. It notes that most countries do not currently utilize GHG emissions reporting methods that can adequately capture the benefits of improving animal health in GHG inventories or NDCs.

Yet animal health and welfare can clearly have a considerable impact on the herd required to meet demand for milk or meat. The differences are not just due to growth rates or yields of the productive animals. One of the biggest impacts is actually in the size of the supporting herd.

The best illustration is that if you can get a calf from every cow each year, each of them is contributing to the productive output in terms of milk or offspring for meat. As soon as the calving interval slips from one year, the herd required to produce the same amount will increase by the same proportion.

So if the calving interval becomes 15 months, the herd will have to become 25% larger to produce the same amount per year, and so on.

In some LDCs, where there are numerous contributory factors to low performance, calving interval often exceeds 3 years, requiring a herd three times the size to produce the same quantity of product.

Naturally, both health and welfare issues can compound the loss in productivity. The loss of a calf effectively increases the size of the supporting herd needed, and slow growth ultimately has the same impact.

Those are important facts to consider in the climate impact discussion and therefore part of our goals. More fundamental to our concerns around health and welfare are their ethical aspects.

We specifically call out pain mitigation in our goal on animal welfare and an environment in which cattle can thrive. Minimising the number of painful procedures and identifying ways either to remove the need for them or minimise the pain involved through the use of anaesthetics and/or analgesics are clearly ethical considerations, as well as productive ones.

The Australian Beef Sustainability Framework’s Annual Update looks at progress in the adoption of pain mitigation as well as polled genetics. 73.3% of cattle in seedstock herds are now polled, showing an increase from 68% in 2010 and 60% in 2000.

The use of pain mitigation for painful procedures is 35% in 2022, up 5% from 2021. The aspiration is to reach 100% by 2030. MLA and AACo, both GRSB members, are implementing a four year project together to facilitate producer research, extension and adoption of pain relief for husbandry procedures in extensive production systems.

We are looking forward to the conversation on Thursday and hope that you can join us. A registration link is below. 


Ruaraidh Petre
Global Roundtable for Sustainable Beef
Executive Director
July 27, 2022

This 60-minute webinar is an exclusive GRSB member benefit. 

There will be opportunities for all participants to ask questions
and to join in the discussion!

This session will feature English to Spanish simultaneous translation.


The 2022 Global Conference on Sustainable Beef is Reaching New Heights: Achieving Global Goals in Denver, Colorado, U.S. at the Hilton Denver City Center, November 7-10, 2022. The conference will be preceded by the Communicators Summit on November 7th and conclude with the option of 3 different tours on November 10th. More information is coming soon! 

If you have any questions regarding the conference or are interested in learning about Sponsorship Opportunities, please contact Katie Ambrose.

Please see a summary of all meetings, calls and webinars on our event calendar in the member area of the website.

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