The livestock industry is still and will continue to work on improve food animal welfare, but it’s important to note that we have been placing a large amount of effort into it for many years already.

Feedlot veterinary consultant Bob Smith, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, Stillwater, Okla., says welfare and cattle husbandry are improve with the adoption of industry guidelines and creating a positive culture on livestock operations. “The first Beef Quality Assurance value is that we believe production practices affect consumer acceptance of beef,” Smith told attendees last week at the 2nd International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare at Kansas State University. “We also want to be able to measure these things.”

Some of the accomplishments of note include:

  • A reduction in incidence of injection site lesions from 22.5% in 1991 to less than 2.5% in 2000. “This shows that producers can solve problems without regulations,” Smith explains. “They are willing to do it and do a good job of it.”
  • National Beef Quality Audits and National Market Cow & Bull Beef Quality Audits (1994, 1999, 3rd audit underway).
  • Transportation Beef Quality Assurance -- development of the Master Cattle Transporter Guide (2006).
  • Auction market BQA Guide competed in 2008. This included 2,000 DVDs distributed to livestock markets.
  • Industry guidelines for the care and handling of cattle produced in 2007, which includes information on:
    •  Nutrition and feeding
    • Health management
    • Animal identification
    • Facilities
    • Marketing and transport
    • Cattle handling
    • Downers
    • Euthanasia
    • Self-assessment