With summer comes the process of moving cattle to pasture, AI breeding, and administering vaccinations. As producers are hard at work with such activities, it is a great time to evaluate practices and facilities for possible areas to improve handling of cattle.
The movement for animal welfare and safe handling processes has increased dramatically in past years. Numerous food retail outlets have incorporated animal handling requirements before products are purchased from suppliers. Consumers want to be reassured they are receiving a safe, wholesome meat product that was handled appropriately. As producers, keeping ahead of the trend will not only make for more efficient use of time when working or moving cattle, but will help the beef industry gain credibility and trust from beef consumers.
The first step to assuring quality in our beef products is to carefully evaluate methods that are in practice at our operations now. Look for areas that need to be improved. Examples include improving working facilities that are lower-stress for animals, taking note to not overcrowd animals, or improving lighting in working facilities for a safer environment. Evaluating the method in which cattle are worked is an important step for cattlemen to take. Programs such as Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) are ways to improve knowledge of appropriate handling of cattle. Sharing BQA information with employees or others involved in the direct management and care of cattle allows everyone involved in the operation to handle cattle safely and contribute to overall success.
Members of the American Shorthorn Association have a unique opportunity to position themselves as leaders in the beef industry by taking beef quality assurance and safe handling techniques seriously. Image the impact that the breed could have in the future with 50%, 80%, or 90% of our membership certified in BQA. Today’s consumers are demanding their food is safe and properly handled. By spreading the message that more beef producers, are determined to meet and exceed consumer demands, we will build confidence and demand for our product. Marketing efforts in today’s world could make a dramatic difference in demand for Shorthorn beef if our membership base was viewed as a group of cattlemen concerned about the quality of product and the consumer who purchases it. There is no time better than the present to prepare and pave the way for a bright prosperous future.