Red meat species have an acute sense of smell, used to identify threats and recognise familiar environments or companions - eliciting either positive or negative behavioural responses. The red meat supply chain requires animals to experience novel environments and have contact with unfamiliar social groups. The olfactory stimulants in these environments can lead to negative behavioural responses, resulting in increased animal-human contact and use of coercion methods. Negative behavioural responses and increased animal-human contact impact animal welfare and can detrimentally affect meat quality.
Managing olfactory stimulants in the environment has the potential to minimise negative behavioural responses, improving welfare and meat quality. The aim of the study to identify olfactory stimulants (VOC) in the abattoir and supply chain environment which may be managed or manipulated to improve animal welfare, operational efficiency and meat quality outcome measures. The project will also quantify the VOC effects on outcome measures, with the purpose of establishing protocols for their management and dispersal practical mechanisms for dispersal of cattle and sheep in lairage and supply chain environments. The study will provide the wider industry with practical tools with the potential to improve animal welfare, customer confidence and financial return for businesses of all sizes and contribute to greater understanding of the role of scents in animal behaviour.