Tag Archives: Dr. Dee Griffin

The Practical Application of Math…

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…

She is now in 7th grade and learning pre-algebra...

She is now in 7th grade and learning pre-algebra…

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!).

One of the girls' favorites are sliced home grown tomatoes with a touch of butter and Parmesan cheese...

One of the girls’ favorites are sliced home grown tomatoes with a touch of butter and Parmesan cheese…

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 know that I have been successful when they start to point it out to me!

I know that I have been successful when they start to point it out to me!

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.

Here I am giving an injection in the neck of a calf just underneath the skin...

Here I am giving an injection in the neck of a calf just underneath the skin…

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.

Here I am filling a syringe to treat a sick calf that I found Sunday morning.  I weigh the animal so that I can figure an accurate and appropriate dose.  I also take the temperature of the animal to help me with my diagnosis.

Here I am filling a syringe to treat a sick calf that I found last Sunday morning in Pen 15. I weigh the animal so that I can figure an accurate and appropriate dose. I also take the temperature of the animal to help me with my diagnosis.

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.

Megan was my helper last weekend.  Here she is writing down the identification numbers of the animal, its temperature, what I treated him with, and then the date that the animal will clear withdrawal...

Megan was my helper last weekend. Here she is writing down the identification numbers of the animal, its temperature, the antibiotic that I treated him with, and then the date that the animal will clear withdrawal…

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!DSC03959

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.

Here I am giving a vaccination to a newly arrived animal.  This vaccine will help him to stay healthy and plays an important role in my preventative health plan...

Here I am giving a vaccination to a newly arrived animal. This vaccine will help him to stay healthy and plays an important role in my preventative health plan…

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.

In addition to motivating her husband and the other "beef boys" to achieve greatness, here she teaches her granddaughter how to cook!

30 years ago this wonderful lady motivated her husband and the other “beef boys” to achieve zero residues in beef, today she teaches her granddaughter how to cook!

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.

Dr. Griffin took his wife's message to heart and has dedicated his life to educating cattlemen and achieving the necessary "zero"...

Dr. Griffin took his wife’s message to heart and has dedicated his life to educating cattlemen and achieving the necessary “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.  https://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.

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Filed under Antibiotics, hormones, and other growth promotants..., General

Animal Welfare–The Great Sea of Confusion!

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 seem to rarely be without an animal at my side–whether it is a horse or a bovine at the feed yard, or a dog or a cat at my home…

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.

My brother and I, many years ago with the quail that Christie (the dog) pointed and our parents shot.  My mom makes a wonderful quail dinner…

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.

Understanding them,and understanding the goal of safe and healthy food makes me a good caregiver…

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.

A great man—Dr. Griffin has dedicated his life to understanding good cattle welfare and mentoring others in their search to humanely raise cattle and produce high quality beef.

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!

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Filed under Animal Welfare, General