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BQA still essential for cattle husbandry

By Staff | Dec 2, 2011

By ROBYN KRUGER

Farm News staff writer

SIOUX CENTER – With the public’s view of Iowa’s livestock industry often seen negatively in the media and by activist animal rights groups, it is crucial for producers to show the public how well livestock are cared for in feedlots.

This sentiment was the primary message told to Northwest Iowa livestock producers during a Nov. 22 gathering in Sioux Center.

ISU Extension and the Iowa Beef Industry Council have been working to educate Northwest Iowa livestock producers through a series of animal care and handling seminars.

The most recent was held at Tri-State Livestock Auction in Sioux Center.

More than 100 cattlemen attended the event with the entire afternoon session translated for Spanish-speaking beef handlers.

“To my knowledge, this is the first time that Beef Quality Assurance program has been offered to our Hispanic employers and employees in Northwest Iowa.” said Beth Doran, Extension beef program specialist for Northwest Iowa. BQA training for cattle has not been mandatory as in the pork industry, but the Extension service encourages producers to be proactive in beef handling education, Doran said.

Doran told producers they should be concerned about the public’s perceptions of the livestock industry, stressing the importance of good animal welfare practices and humane treatment.

Understanding cattle stress

Dr. Grant Dewell, an Extension veterinarian, addressed cattle stress. Dewell said the importance of understanding what causes animals to stress and how routine practices should not be done prior to arrival to feedlots, pointing out that it takes an animal 30 days to recover from stress.

Feedlot consultant and practicing veterinarian Dr. Kip Lukasiewicz, of Production Animal Consultation, based in Oakley, Kan., presented specifics of animal handling.

He reminded attendees that “perception is reality” when it comes to the public and those unfamiliar with livestock.

“Handlers need to understand the task at hand,” he said. When moving animals, cattle want to see what is pressuring them and move in the direction they are headed.

“Why,” he asked, “do we move behind the animal when moving in their blind spot will cause them to turn and see you?

“Cattle want to follow other animals and they have very little patience.”

Producers later benefited from a hands-on cattle-handling demonstration, lead by Lukaseiwicz.

Doug Bear, director of industry relations for the Iowa Beef Council, said BQA was originally set up during 1982, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, and the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association began working on the pre-harvest beef safety production program.

During the mid- to late-1980s, the beef industry adopted the term Beef Quality Assurance and began offering the program as a voluntary control to ensure that all beef produced was using best management practices, he said, “for the safest, healthiest, and most wholesome supply of beef in the world.

“The BQA Certification programs are based on national standards and scientific research that take BQA to a new level to meet the demands of today’s consumer,” said Bear.

Contact Robyn Kruger at rangerob@hickorytech.net.

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