Caring for Beef Cattle
There’s a lot more to raising cattle than meets the eye. Farmers must closely monitor conditions of their herds, both for the safety and health of the herd and for others.
Walking pastures allows farmers to check the health of animals, as well as the availability of food, water and shelter. Pastures must be watched closely and regularly to ensure that there is enough food and that it’s not over-grazed. Producers are constantly tracking air, water and ground quality to comply with EPA regulations and ensure the safety of their animals.
Supplying supplemental grain or hay is often necessary during winter months or during droughts when pastures can’t provide enough food for the herd. Or providing medical care in the event an animal is injured or becomes sick. This is particulary important, because cattle farmers will isolate a sick or injured animal from the herd to provide one-on-one care, or by calling a veterinarian or university animal scientists for advice.
One of the most important roles is to providing birthing assistance. Giving birth s a traumatic time for a cow, and can even be dangerous. That’s why farmers and producers monitor pregnant cows carefully, often times staying up through the night to ensure a safe delivery.
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Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) programs
In the 1980s, the Beef Quality Assurance Program (BQA) incorporated animal welfare practices into its producer education programs. The Producer Code of Cattle Care, developed by the BQA Advisory Board in 1996, served as the first formalized animal welfare guidelines for the beef industry, laying the groundwork for how producers care for their animals today.
Among other guidelines, these standards call for producers to:
- Provide necessary food, water and care to protect the health and well being of animals.
- Provide disease prevention practices to protect herd health – including access to veterinary care.
- Provide facilities that allow safe, humane and efficient movement and/or restraint of cattle.
- Use appropriate methods to euthanize terminally sick or injured livestock and provide personnel with the training and experience needed to properly handle and care for cattle.
- Make timely observations of cattle to ensure basic needs are being met.
- Minimize stress when transporting cattle.
- Keep updated on advancements and changes in the industry to make decisions based on sound production practices and consideration of the animal’s well being.