I’ll never forget the day in 3rd grade that my oldest daughter announced that she did not understand why she had to learn math because it was not anything that she would ever use in real life…
Ever since that moment, I have made it my mission to constantly point out to my girls the use of math in daily life. Perhaps that is why they are all such good chefs (what better way to learn to use fractions!).
I am surrounded by math at the feed yard. From reading bunks and figuring out pounds of feed—to estimating cattle weights—to deciding how many trucks I need to transport my animals—to determining the proper withdrawal times for the animal health products that I use on my cattle. Math is everywhere and I have to remember not to gloat every time that I proudly show my girls another practical use for it!
I use several different animal health products at the feed yard. By animal health products, I mean both preventative care products (like vaccines) and treatment medications (like antibiotics) for sick animals. The last two core topics for Beef Quality Assurance are Injection Site Management, and Feed Additives and Medications.
These two BQA components exist because my cattle are food animals, and their meat will be used to nourish my family and yours. As I use animal health products, I must always remember to protect the safety of the food that my animals make.
Almost all animal health products have withdrawal periods—this is the number of days that must pass before a treated animal can be shipped to harvest. The withdrawal period insures that there are no residues of any animal health products in the meat that you purchase at the grocery store.
It is illegal for me to send a bovine to harvest who has not passed the proper withdrawal time following a treatment (like the one that I administered in the picture above). Every single time that we give an animal health product to a calf, we write down the animal’s identification number, the product that was given to him, and then figure the date that the animal has cleared withdrawal and is eligible for harvest.
There is an effective system in place to ensure that beef that you purchase is residue free! FDA (federal drug administration )mandates it, BQA ensures it, cattle veterinarians and caregivers take many steps every day to make it a reality!
So, how often do my cattle receive injections (shots)? As a part of my protocol to ensure good health, every animal in my feed yard receives at least two vaccinations (given to prevent common bovine illnesses—think of them as the bovine equivalent of the Flu Shot), and one deworming shot. In addition, somewhere between 2-5% of my animals receive an injection of an antibiotic when they become clinically ill.
The goal is to do all of the holistic animal welfare practices correctly so that only a very small number of my animals get sick and require an antibiotic treatment.
Perhaps Dr. Griffin’s wife (pictured above) said it best when she reminded him 30 years ago that it was never acceptable to feed her children meat that contained residues. I am pleased to report today that the percentage of finished cattle that go to harvest with a residue is 0.000017% which statistically equates to zero.
For more information on the topic of antibiotics, take a minute to read this post from December of last year regarding antibiotic use at the feed yard. http://feedyardfoodie.wordpress.com/2011/12/13/the-misunderstood/.
Or, the USFRA just did a dialog on the use of antibiotics in food animals recently in New York City. You can view the hour and a half long conversation at http://www.fooddialogues.com/ny-food-dialogues/antibiotics-and-your-food.