When people hear about quality assurance in livestock, they automatically think of topics like how to give an injection or read a drug label. Actually, quality assurance for livestock producers encompasses all management practices that promise to help provide consumers with a safe, wholesome food animal product. Whether raising chickens for eggs, dairy cattle for milk, or animals marketed for meat, all livestock producers are part of the food supply continuum and need to understand how their management practices effect the end product and the resulting impact to the consumer.
Producing a quality product is dependent on the daily care and management practices utilized. Balanced nutrition is essential in the daily care and management of animals during the different phases of production: growth, gestation, lactation, or maintenance. Complete feeds (commercial feeds) are most commonly used during the growth phase for muscle development and fat deposition. These feeds are required by law to have a label which outlines the feed analysis, ingredients, and recommended feeding directions. A feed analysis displays nutrient levels for protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, minerals and salt. Ingredients are listed in descending order according to their percentage in the feed. Some feeds contain medication and are required to list any warnings and withdrawal times. Medicated feeds are only allowed to be fed to animals specified on the label. As part of quality assurance, recommended feeding levels and withdrawal time should be respected to ensure a safe, wholesome product for consumers.
For optimal growth and efficiency, animals should be fed high quality feed sources, this does not mean buying expensive commercial feeds. High quality feed sources refer to feeds that meet the animals’ nutritional needs for percent protein, energy, vitamins, and minerals along with being clean and fresh. Feeds should be kept dry and stored in clean, organized areas free of pests to prevent biological, physical, or chemical contamination. Biological hazards include bacteria, viruses, protozoa, mold or parasites that could cause illness to the animal. Foreign objects (physical hazards) like wire or twine can have harmful effects to an animal’s digestive system. Finally, chemical hazards include antibiotic residues in non-treated feeds or pesticides. Producers need to remember, feeds that are unsafe for animals to consume inevitably have a negative impact on the consumer.
Source: Megan Nielson