THE Mount Barker Regional Saleyards has won a national award that recognises excellence in animal welfare.
The National Award for Animal Welfare in Saleyards and Lairages was presented at the Australian Livestock Markets Association (ALMA) annual conference in Rockhampton, Queensland, last week.
The award recognises and encourages positive animal welfare practices and outcomes in saleyards and lairages, as well as innovative practices or infrastructure that better manages animal welfare outcome and staff training and development.
It is only the second year the award has been presented and Mount Barker saleyards manager Stewart Smith, who was at the conference to accept the award, said it was great recognition for the yards and the Plantagenet shire.
“We are relatively small facility in comparison to some of the facilities across Australia,” Mr Smith said.
“We pull cattle from a large area, with growers from as far as east of Esperance selling through us and our closest abattoir is 400 kilometres away so we need to ensure that animals that are travelling these distances are well looked after and fit to travel.”
Mr Smith said there had been a focus from staff at the facility that cattle sold through it are part of a food supply chain and must be looked after to the optimum level.
“At the end of the day we are dealing with a food product and consumers expect high quality and want to know that the animal has been well looked after through the paddock to plate journey,” he said.
“We are a stepping stone in that journey and must play our role in ensuring that animals are fit and healthy and in good condition.”
Mr Smith said the soft, rubber mat flooring installed in the yards across 2012 and 2013 and water troughs in every pen were major developments in the improvement of the saleyards over the years.
The saleyard also follows the Australian Code of Practice for the Selling of Livestock in regard to penning densities and Mr Smith is an accredited animal welfare inspector.
Plantagenet shire chief executive officer Rob Stewart said it was great recognition for the saleyards and the team that managed them.
“Ever since the shire took over 100 per cent ownership of the yards, animal welfare has been a priority,” Mr Stewart said.
“In recent years it has probably become one of the highest priorities, so it is great recognition of the practices at the yards and reflects what is happening in the real world.
“Stewart and his team have taken on animal welfare in a very professional manner and reflecting what people want and giving producers what they want also.
“The focus is on making sure the animal is better prepared when it leaves these yards and maintaining the weight and condition that it arrives in.”