Monitoring stress levels

I was having lunch with some folks from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association a while back and was sitting with Dan McCarty.  He told me of a study he had learned about that was done on some Hawaiian cattle that were shipped on boat to the mainland.

Long story short, they inserted a tube into the vagina of the heifers that could monitor the stress level and document the time of the stress.

From what I recall of the conversation, the only time the cattle showed much sign of excessive stress was loading and unloading.  The cattle are in a special made container with feed and water available at all times.  The trip takes several days.

This is great technology.  I feel it will be used in the future for animals and humans to monitor  the stress level from the environment around us.  This will prove many things.

  • Are animals that are confined under more stress than animals that are housed naturally?
  • Do certain levels of training create excess stress on animals?

I believe it will become an incredible technology to help us regulate and monitor proper handling of livestock and in creating a benchmark for proper livestock management.  It will prove the difference between right and wrong.

I can’t wait to learn more on this. To me this is the answer to the question on the ethics of livestock production and all animal-human relations.  It will show us optimal management of stress levels in livestock for profitable livestock production.  It is going to move us from opinion and emotion to ethics and fact.

I don’t know when this technology will get here, but I hope it is soon.  The things we have been discussing here, like different levels of pressure to get things done will be easier to monitor with this technology.  It may change my opinion on what I believe.

I upset quite a few people in the horse and cow world because I may not do things just like they do.  As of late (it has not always been this way) most of the disagreement is me wanting to put less negative pressure on the animal. That does not fit with the high pressure stockmen. As long as I am getting done what I need to get done and always trying to get it done with less chance of stress on humans and animals and more chance of a safe outcome I will take the criticism.

I have been using a method for myself for a long time that may have a similar result of the stress technology we are discussing.  I have always imagined some of the folks that I have looked up to that have died are watching me.  So in my mind I have a whole committee of people that impressed or influenced me in my life, watching me from up on a hill.  It is real important for me to impress these folks because of how they impressed me.  It helps to keep me doing what I feel is the right thing.

Even when this new technology comes around, I will continue with the committee in my mind, then I will be using both science and common sense, and I believe that is the best.

~ Curt Pate

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