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Proper Animal Handling

Demonstrates Beef Industry Commitment to Cattle

U.S. cattlemen have long recognized the importance of the proper care and handling of their livestock. That responsibility is also one of the four pillars – “Your Cattle” – of Merck Animal Health’s Responsible Beef campaign.  
 
From cow/calf operations and backgrounding programs to feedyard management practices, ensuring that animals are well cared for not only makes good business sense – it’s also the right thing to do.  

Eric Moore, D.V.M., with Merck Animal Health, notes that attention to animal welfare and low-stress handling is vital to successfully growing calves. “Sorting, corralling and containing should be limited and handled with proper stress-reducing plans to create a calm and safe environment for the calves in a background operation,” he says. “If the amount of stressful situations placed on calves can be reduced, producers will end up with more efficient, healthier cattle.”

Additionally, Dr. Moore says that proper shelter and bedding should be provided in case of inclement weather. Bedding should remain clean and dry, as mud has been shown to severely limit weight gain and affect the health of calves. 

Wade Nichols, Ph.D., with Merck Animal Health, points out that stress influences the release of biological and physiological factors within the body that are detrimental to improving rumen function and health. That’s why all cattle handling, he says, should be conducted with cattle well-being and comfort as primary concerns.
 
“A good sign of low-stress cattle handling is a kink in the cattle’s tails, along with an overall calmness when returning to their home pen. If cattle have their heads down and are slobbering, then your cattle-handling procedures need improvement,” Dr. Nichols explains.

BQA:  Supporting High-Quality Beef and Building Consumer Confidence 

Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) – a national program that offers guidelines for beef cattle production – is a way for cattle feeders to ensure that their cattle-handling procedures result in low-stressed cattle and high-quality beef.  Jude Capper, Ph.D., livestock sustainability consultant, says that BQA is a great system for producers to confirm they are producing thriving, more-efficient animals. “Less stress on the animals, less bruising and fewer injection site injuries will all result in better quality beef,” says Dr. Capper. 

Additionally, she says that cattle feeders should make sure feedyard facilities are promoting a low-stress environment and that receiving and processing facilities should be built with the typical instincts of cattle in mind. “Location of gates and how cattle are directed into the facility should be designed to create a natural flow for them,” Dr. Capper says.

BQA is committed to raise consumer confidence by offering proper management techniques and a commitment to quality within every segment of the beef industry.  For more information, visit www.bqa.org.    

By emphasizing the four pillars of Responsible Beef – Your Cattle, Your Land, Your Community and Your Business – Merck Animal Health is committed to work with its customers and other industry members to ensure healthy cattle and the availability of safe, wholesome beef products for consumers.