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Hagskär, Alma, 2024. Welfare Aspects of Beef Production in Sweden and Comparative Analysis with Major Beef-Exporting Countries. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Applied Animal Science and Welfare



The welfare of livestock animals is crucial not only for their well-being but also for the profitability of the system, as it leads to healthier, more productive animals. Therefore, producers can benefit from focusing more on animal welfare, as investments in this area yield increased profitability in the long term. Animal welfare has long been a cornerstone of Swedish beef production and from the Swedish food industry perspective, there is a lack of compilation and update regarding various welfare aspects concerning beef production. This study aimed to investigate welfare aspects of Swedish beef production and compare them with major beef-exporting countries for Sweden Ireland, Germany, and Brazil. The comparative analysis conducted in this study aimed to refine our understanding of the substantial variations in standards between Swedish beef production and these major beef-exporting countries. This study is based on a comprehensive literature review, examining welfare aspects such as animal handling, housing, pasture access, anaesthesia during surgical interventions, antibiotic use, and transportation. Additionally, several interviews were conducted with Axfood in Sweden and their beef suppliers in Ireland.
The interviews revealed distinct practices between Sweden and Ireland in beef production, with grazing being crucial for Irish beef production, allowing cattle to graze eight to nine months of the year. In contrast, while pasture-based beef production is common in Sweden, it is not to the same extent due to climate characteristics. Interviewees also emphasized the profitability challenges in beef production, which are likely to persist in the coming years. Based on the data accessed, Sweden had regulations covering all investigated aspects included in the legislation, with some extended in certifications. Ireland and Germany seemed to lack detailed legislation for most aspects, although most beef producers were certified by standards higher than the legislation. Brazil's animal welfare legislation outlined basic requirements but lacked specific regulations covered in this thesis. Certification for Brazilian beef producers had more detailed rules, but the extent of certification among producers was unclear. Sweden was the only country including space allowance in national legislation, while others included it in certifications. Only Sweden mandated pasture access in legislation, although Ireland implied it as a common practice. Germany and Ireland didn't require anaesthesia for castration or dehorning of calves below a certain age, while Brazilian regulations for anaesthesia was not clear. Transportation time was similar for EU countries, and the allowed age for transporting calves was similar among EU countries, except for Germany’s certification, which prohibited transporting calves younger than four weeks. Sweden reported the lowest use of antibiotics for production animals.
Based on the information accessed, this study concludes that Swedish legislation is more restricted and presents more detailed animal welfare standards for beef production compared to the major beef-producing countries investigated in this thesis. However, other factors such as welfare aspects included in certifications are also considered in order to broaden the perspective. To make information regarding animal welfare legislation and certificates for countries exporting to Sweden more accessible to consumers and actors on the food market, it could be beneficial to conduct a platform which presents and compares these topics.

Main title:Welfare Aspects of Beef Production in Sweden and Comparative Analysis with Major Beef-Exporting Countries
Authors:Hagskär, Alma
Supervisor:Chagas, Juana and Allard, Helena
Examiner:Arvidsson Segerkvist, Katarina
Volume/Sequential designation:UNSPECIFIED
Year of Publication:2024
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:VY008 Agriculture Programme - Animal Science, 300.0hp
Supervising department:(VH) > Applied Animal Science and Welfare
Keywords:beef production, animal welfare, behaviour, housing system, beef cattle, Swedish agriculture, international comparison
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Deposited On:17 Jun 2024 10:20
Metadata Last Modified:18 Jun 2024 11:33

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