There is increasing interest in utilizing meat inspection data to help inform farmers of the health and welfare of their herds. The aim of this study was to determine whether ante-mortem measures of welfare in beef and dairy cattle (N = 305) were associated with post-mortem measures at a United Kingdom (UK) abattoir. Multiple regression analysis was used to determine the ability of ante-mortem measures of lameness, cleanliness, skin lesions, hair loss and body condition in predicting hot carcass weight and the frequency of carcass bruising. For beef cattle, lameness score (p = 0.04), cleanliness score (p = 0.02) and age (p < 0.001), were predictors of carcass bruise score while lameness score (p = 0.03), body condition (p = 0.01) and sex (p < 0.001) were predictors of hot carcass weight. For dairy cattle, sex (p < 0.001) and slaughter day (p < 0.001) were predictors of carcass bruise score while skin lesion score (p = 0.01), body condition (p < 0.001), age (p < 0.001), slaughter day (p < 0.001) and number of moves (p = 0.01) were predictors of hot carcass weight. These results suggest that recording carcass weight and carcass bruising at meat inspection may have potential as a general indicator of health and welfare status in cattle. However, animal characteristics and variables, such as slaughter day and abattoir staffing, should be taken into account when interpreting the results.
- beef dairy cattle animal welfare post mortem