Farm Check: Ensuring Responsible Animal Care On the Farm…

A life-long animal lover, I have been interested in Animal Welfare relative to cattle since the first day that I visited our family’s feed yard.  The naive 19 year old East Coast girlfriend had no idea that the majority of cattle in the United States spent time in a pen eating out of a bunk prior to becoming beef.

Cattle eating out of a "feed bunk" at the yard...

Cattle eating out of a “feed bunk” at the yard…

While I felt many different emotions during my first visit to the feed yard, the most pervasive of those was genuine interest.  In typical Anne style, I asked Archie (the feed yard manager) a multitude of questions as I tried to gain an understanding of both the animals and the way that the farm worked.  The more I learned, the more that I wanted to know .

After almost 20 years, I love Archie like a grandfather...

After almost 20 years, I love Archie like a grandfather…

In particular, I found the care of the cattle fascinating.  The psychologist in me wanted to understand the animal—to figure out how he thought so that I could fully understand his needs.  This initial fascination led to my desire to go to work at the feed yard after college graduation.  Three days after leaving Dartmouth College with a cum laude star on my diploma, I went to work in a whole new world: the world of food animal production.

One of the "home pens" where cattle live at my feed yard...

One of the “home pens” where cattle live at my feed yard…

Over the next 16 years, I learned the practical skills that I needed to care for those intriguing animals and I worked hard to earn the respect of my fellow feed yard team members.  Today, I make decisions that affect the welfare of thousands of animals who make millions of pounds of beef and other products that we all enjoy.  I have learned so much since that first day when my naïve eyes glimpsed the feed yard, but perhaps the best part of all is the fact that the learning never ends.

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Animals teach us many things if we take the time to look and are able to understand how they *think*!

The care of beef cattle is highly complex and I view the interaction between bovine and caregiver to be incredibly fascinating.  Enabling my animals to feel comfortable on my farm and watching them to subsequently thrive is one of my greatest pleasures.  Being able to share that with my daughters is nothing short of priceless.

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Although I strive to continually learn, I have come to a point in my life where I think that I know enough that I can also share something meaningful regarding animal care.  It is very rewarding to me that others in the beef family share that same feeling.  Animal welfare is a team effort, and I am very proud to be a part of the team.

Late this winter, I was asked to serve on Tyson Fresh Meats 3rd party Animal Welfare Advisory Committee as a part of their new Farm Check program.  The Farm Check program is an education, audit, and research program to help ensure that animals are cared for responsibly on the farm.

As a customer, each one of you deserves to know that the meat that you purchase came from an animal that was cared for appropriately and conscientiously. 

I believe that the meat industry is only sustainable if it operates with integrity.   I also believe that the Farm Check program will contribute to this sustainability.FarmChecklogoI am tremendously honored to be a member of this inaugural group of animal welfare professionals.  I am also truly humbled to be thought of as an expert in the field of farm animal behavior, health and production.  My goal has always been to continuously work for improvements in the care of farm animals.  This is best accomplished through the creation of practical and applicable animal welfare practices that dictate responsible daily care.

Healthy and well cared for animals make healthy food, and this is always the goal…

Throughout the next few posts, I would like to share my experiences last week at the first Farm Check Animal Welfare Advisory Committee as well as more information regarding the people, the goal, and the plan.

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Filed under General, Sustainable Spring, Tyson Farm Check Program

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