Animal welfare is a contentious and passionate issue, but most importantly, a number one priority for the dedicated farmers and ranchers of the United States. The truth is that farmers and ranchers are just like you – they care about providing the highest standards of animal welfare for their livestock and are committed to preventing animal abuse.
Farmers and ranchers are quick to condemn any type of animal abuse. Adam Navinskey, a beef and crop farmer from Kansas, explained, “When I see animal abuse on TV or the Internet, it makes me wonder what is wrong with these people? I don’t understand how someone can consciously abuse an animal and I don’t think any punishment would be severe enough to make up for what they did.”
For all farmers and ranchers, like Adam, there are a host of research-based standards that farmers and ranchers adhere to each day ensure their animals are well cared for. Healthy animals are the key to safe beef.
Many farmers and ranchers complete animal welfare programs which provide them with the tools and education to ensure proper cattle care. For example, the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program offers up-to-date, scientifically-proven best management practices. In 2003, the BQA program developed The Cattle Industry’s Guidelines for the Care and Handling of Cattle, making it very clear that “persons who willfully mistreat animals will not be tolerated.” Feeding and nutrition, health care, handling and transportation are just a few of the areas addressed by the code.
In the 1980’s Dr. Temple Grandin, professor of animal science at Colorado State University, and consultant to the livestock industry on animal behavior, invented a now widely used animal handling facility design known as the Serpentine ramp, or “S ramp.” In an effort to improve the handling of animals, this curved, s-shaped ramp allowed reduced stress to livestock by taking advantage of natural cattle behaviors. The S-ramp is just one example of a method that farmers and ranchers use to abide by care and handling codes, to ensure a high standard of animal welfare.
Programs like BQA provide farmers and ranchers with best practices on transporting cattle by avoiding undue stress caused by overcrowding, excess time in transit or improper handling during loading and unloading. While transporting cattle, farmers and ranchers are careful to abide by the code and sometimes they will even hire a livestock specialist to train other employees how to properly handle cattle with quality assured methods.
As animal caretakers, farmers and ranchers are highly concerned about their livestock. Their animals are their livelihood, and they are committed to providing a comfortable, safe environment throughout the beef lifecycle.