I believe that cattle need the following things to thrive and achieve their God-given potential in the production of beef:
- A consistent and clean source of feed and water.
- A comfortable environment in which to live and express normal bovine behavior.
- Good preventative health care that includes proper vaccination, deworming, and vitamin/mineral intake.
- A caregiver who understands how to properly interact with the animal, and works to consistently reduce the stress that the animal experiences.
In order to ensure the practical application of these welfare cornerstones, the Beef Quality Assurance Program focuses on 3 basic areas of education for cattle farmers:
- Feed Ingredient Selection
- Processing (vaccination) and Animal Treatment Records
- Animal Care and Husbandry (welfare) Practices
Because cattle are food animals, two other areas of focus exist in the BQA program, to ensure that the beef that our animals produce is safe and healthy:
- Feed Additives and Medications
- Injection Site Management
When I asked Dr. Griffin what the most important function of the BQA program was, he responded:
The major focus of BQA today is the accumulation and dissemination of animal husbandry (care/welfare) ideas and techniques from people all across the United States. As cattle caregivers become more knowledgeable stewards, this allows cattle to grow and reproduce at their God-given genetic potential in the environment in which the cattle are raised and kept. Animal husbandry-appropriate to the animal’s needs- and within its given environment, will accomplish the objectives that we all seek … sustainability and the production of safe beef.
After the Thanksgiving Holiday, we will take a closer look at each of the 5 areas of focus for Beef Quality Assurance and discuss their role in ensuring good cattle welfare.