When I learned that I was pregnant with my first child, I went looking for information on pregnancy. I’ll never forget standing in a book store in Omaha open-mouthed and shocked at how many different books existed on the topic. I was completely overwhelmed and left the book store without making a purchase.
A couple of weeks later I asked my doctor for suggestions on what books to read. She gave me a great book that I read throughout my pregnancy. I learned an important lesson that day—when you do not know anything about a topic, it is best to look to someone who is knowledgeable for help…
I think that the topic of animal welfare can be incredibly complex. Many, many diverse groups and individuals have thoughts on the subject and, as a result, even getting a simple universal definition of the term is challenging. If you were to Google the term, you are likely to get a landslide of confusing and sometimes conflicting information on the topic.
As convoluted as the term animal welfare can sometimes be, I think that the idea of good animal care is incredibly important. I love animals. They have always played a pivotal role in my life. Growing up I was surrounded by dogs (my dad is the ultimate dog lover), and we spent the weekends hunting for quail and ducks on ranch pasture ground about 60 miles from our home.
Until I arrived in Nebraska in 1997, I personally knew of two types of animals—pets and wild game animals. As I went to work at our cattle feed yard, I began to learn about a third type of animals: food animals. While I have always been an omnivore, up until that point I knew very little about raising food animals on a farm.
Fortunately, as I went to work at our feed yard, I was successful in finding good people and good information which helped me to learn appropriate care and welfare relative to this new type of animal. It was during this transition that I began to look at the topic of animal welfare from a new perspective—from the eyes of a caregiver of food animals.
When I look back at the last 16 years, there is one program and one individual that have consistently guided me in my search to offer high quality and appropriate care to my cattle. The program is the Beef Quality Assurance Program, and the individual is veterinarian and rumanint nutritionist Dr. Dee Griffin. I met Dr. Griffin only a few weeks after I moved to Nebraska. His passion for “doing things right” motivated me to search for greatness on my farm—Something that I still do each and every day.
I am going to take a series of posts to talk about Beef Quality Assurance, and I have enlisted Dr. Griffin to help me in this journey. I hope that by the end, you all will feel more comfortable and more knowledgeable about animal welfare relative to cattle and the production of beef. Please feel free to ask questions—I don’t want any of you to have the same puzzled and overwhelmed expression on your faces as I did all those years ago standing in a book store looking for someone to help me through what appeared to be a great sea of confusion!