At times such as during drought, reduced feed intake causes beef cows to lose body condition. As this happens, they progressively become infertile, their milk dries up and their commercial beef (salvage) value declines. If they lose condition further, their body reserves can become insufficient for them to withstand mustering, yarding, transport or sale. If they become very weak they are at risk of death during wet weather or if placed under any form of stress. It is unacceptable to the community and is illegal to allow stock to reach this condition.
Livestock managers, advisers, transport operators and welfare officials need to make decisions about feeding, suitability for transport or sale of cattle and, in extreme cases, their humane destruction on the property. These decisions are difficult, and often must be made by people under heavy emotional stress.
This Primefact is intended to give clear, practical guidelines on assessing the status of affected cows and on deciding what should be done with them.