There are two sides of the equation when it comes to reducing environmental stress. The first part is creature comfort and the other is implementing best practices during processing. Minimizing stress is important because of the significant impact it can have on the development and spread of bovine respiratory disease (BRD).
Backgrounding — a process that begins after weaning and ends at the placement of thriving cattle in a feedyard — adds pounds to calves by paying special attention to their health and nutrition in the hopes of higher returns. Some cow/calf producers may decide to incorporate a backgrounding program within their operation. For those who do, Eric Moore, D.V.M., Merck Animal Health, reminds these producers that backgrounding brings another set of issues to manage.
At Foster Feed Yard, transparency is more than just a popular buzz-word, and Jesse Larios eagerly describes how the operation walks-the-walk. “The feedyard is a nutrient recycling enterprise,” Larios says. “Corn, wheat, alfalfa and sugar beets raised on Foster land are fed to the cattle to make protein for human consumption.”
At Cattle Empire LLC in Satanta, Kansas, there’s an ongoing effort to improve animal well-being, led by CEO Roy Brown and Dave Sjeklocha, D.V.M., operations manager of animal health and welfare. Among their next areas of focus: instituting a quarterly animal well-being training program for all employees.
Wulf Cattle has been focused on integration for decades: selling bulls and semen to producers and buying back the calves to feed and sell to packers. For many years, that model has worked well for this integrated beef producer headquartered in Morris, Minnesota “We thought, ‘Why can’t this work on the dairy side?'” says Wulf Cattle President Jerry Wulf.