Welfare of Beef Cattle in Extensive Systems

SP Turner*, Maria Eugenia Canozzi, Drewe Ferguson

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Extensive beef cattle production is characterised by the management of animals on pasture, often in remote areas, and with infrequent contact with humans. Great diversity exists in environmental and management conditions, even within the confines of a single farm, as a result of topography and climate. The welfare challenges within the extensive beef sector are therefore highly variable in location and time. In this chapter, we explore the commonalities and diversity present in extensive beef systems and consider what farmers and the public regard as good welfare in the context of beef cattle. It is generally considered, particularly by the public, that access to an outdoor environment that allows animals to behave naturally is central to the concept of good welfare. We consider whether the scientific evidence supports the view that cattle value access to an outdoor space and to pasture specifically. Thereafter, the chapter discusses the primary welfare challenges faced by extensive beef cattle, which centre around weather or climate stressors, nutritional stressors from inadequate forage of a suitable quality, health stressors and painful management stressors. Three case studies illustrate how these challenges are manifested, and how they are managed, in the contrasting extensive beef industries of Australia, Brazil and the UK. Lastly, future industry developments in response to changing societal and environmental pressures are considered, and suggestions are made of the areas of research that should be prioritised to maximise animal welfare.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCattle Welfare in Dairy and Beef Systems
EditorsMarie Haskell
ISBN (Electronic)978-3-031-21020-4
ISBN (Print)978-3-031-21019-8
Publication statusFirst published - 11 Nov 2023


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