Tag Archives: Beef Quality Assurance

Ron Gill and I presented demos at the NCBA Trade Show on working with younger calves. We tried to show several styles with proper Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) protocols and animal welfare the priority in all of them. We had lots of good help.

Todd McCartney and Tom Curtin are horseback in the photo. Ron Gill and Chuck Cogsgrove of Anitrace are doing the tagging. Dean Fish and myself are doing the real work on the ground crew.  It all went pretty good, there were a few times when things got a little out of hand but that is real life, you should always learn from each situation.  The cattle and horses were real good to work with.

~ Curt Pate

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Stockmanship with dairy calves

I mentioned I get lots of good info from the dairy industry.  Here is an excellent video on stockmanship. This is real good stuff.

~ Curt Pate

Progressive Dairyman

Of all the valuable reading I get on the modern day smoke signal (Internet), I get more from the dairy magazines than any other now. The dairy farmers have learned the best ways to get the most production out of a cow.

Nutrition, cow comfort, and milking style seem to be really important things that make the operation successful.

I have read that nutrition has changed from an art to a science with technology. It is amazing how effective our feeding of animals has become, when we control the feed they eat and the time they eat.

It used to be standard practice to milk morning and night. I have read in some cases they may milk up to six times a day, on the modern dairy. The way cows are milked, the kind of parlor design, and the skill of the milker is very important for production.

Cow comfort is very well thought out. All kinds of creature comforts are provided – water at the proper temperature (some dairies run milk and water pipes together to cool the milk and warm the water), feeding and feed bunk design for optimum cow intake, and the very best rest areas for cow comfort and reduction of lameness.

I recently learned from a dairy specialist for Zoetis that they design dairies for cows to turn to the right. The gut of the dairy cow is so large that they have a difficult time turning left, because of the way the gut is designed so the cow likes to turn right.

These are just some of the things I have learned about the dairy world. I am certain if you learn more about the business there would be much more to learn about the science of making cows more productive.

This is a problem that I see happening. The dairy industry has gotten so good that the cows are are actually working themselves to death.

When a cow’s genetics have caused her to have a gut so large that you must design facilities you may be going to far. Watch one try to get up.

The length of time a cow is productive is less than it used to be. The production part of the cow is getting to be more than the transportation part of the cow can handle.

A lot of the negative animal welfare on national media coverage has involved dairy cattle. Animals with limited mobility, handlers not using proper animal handling techniques, and usually handlers trying to force the animal to go faster than it is capable of all led to these animal welfare problems.

To be blunt, the cows are not taken out of production soon enough and are not in good enough shape physically to go from milking to slaughter.

The other problem happens when the handlers don’t have the time or compassion to slow down or use the proper equipment to get the job done correctly.

I am a big fan of the Mexican charro skills with a rope. These skills are amazing. The Mexican culture with animals is much different than ours. We must make the Hispanics understand that our culture will not tolerate what we in our culture view as abuse to animals. In my opinion it is more important to learn this than it is to learn English.

The Mexican culture with animals is not the same as ours. We must keep reinforcing and encouraging proper handling practices frequently. To just think we can tell them once and then all the tradition and habits will go away is ridiculous.

It is also important for the dairy employee to get skilled at Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) practices. We see that they are way behind the beef industry in this. Again it is important that the employee understands the impact of doing things wrong.

One thing I feel we could all benefit from is our emotions toward animals. Animal handling expert Bud Williams spoke of this all the time. He felt animals really responded well to a person that enjoyed working with animals, and the mood of the people dealing with the animals was really important to health and production. I read of a study that showed when you named a dairy cow her production went up. The researcher surmised that if something has a name people care about it more.

It is so incredible to have not only nutrition go from an art to a science, but many other aspects of animal care as well. In college it changed from animal husbandry to animal science. We better be careful not to go to far toward science. We may even benefit to getting back to the way we felt about animals when we hand milked twice a day.

The dairy industry has come so far in animal science, but I think they need to get back to the art of animal husbandry. I think we all need to learn more on the art of animal husbandry.

It’s the right thing to do, and that’s Stockmanship and Stewardship.

~ Curt Pate

Beef Quality Assurance

I was watching my RFD-TV a few days ago and an episode of ‘All-Around Performance Horse’ was on. It is one of my favorite shows on the channel.

They were having the High Oaks Ranch annual branding and did a great job of showing the real-life way that we work cattle. During the broadcast, they explained the reasons for doing the things that should be done to create high quality, safe beef. It was a family affair with lots of friends helping to carry out a western tradition of a very important job that some call the “spring works.”

With all our work we do to beef cattle it is very important we use certain best quality practices. No matter if you are a cowboy, farmer, feedyard employee, dairy farmer or any other person involved in the production of beef, it is very important to learn the proper way to administer vaccines and antibiotics, understand the importance of proper dosage administration, and be double sure to not market cattle until proper withdrawal times have been reached.

I used to think all this shot placement was a bunch of malarkey until I saw a demonstration of a steer posted (euthanized) after a bunch of different meds were administered improperly to him a day or to prior to the posting. I was totally shocked at the results (bruising, scarring, and general damage to muscle tissue) of misused and misplaced injections.

Because of this I became a believer and knew it was important to learn more. Please get up to speed on Beef Quality Assurance. You can go on the Internet and learn more. Most states have several BQA trainings a year and your veterinarian would most likely really like to help you to get better at keeping your beef animals properly taken care of.

I was watching I Am Angus and a feedlot operator by the name of Ann Burcholder was speaking about the quality of beef. She explained that it was very important to her operation to do the right thing because her children eat the same beef she sells. This is a great point. Get personal in your thoughts about beef quality. We all have good friends, family, and innocent children that we must protect from harm. Do it for them.

BQA started with the intent of improving what could be called chute side techniques. It has evolved to include so much more information. Beef Quality Assurance is a three word phrase that is very important and I feel all involved in the beef industry should take some time to think about its importance.

Adele Bitner, a lady I have worked with in Canada, is someone whom I feel really understands issues in the livestock industry. She once told me people don’t have to eat beef. This is a very, very important thing to realize. Consumption of beef per person is on the decrease in North America. This may be for many reasons, but I want to make sure it is not a trust issue.

The honesty and integrity of the beef producer is legendary. All the old time deals were done on a handshake and a man’s word was his most valued asset. What has happened? People don’t trust each other anymore and that is really sad.

John Wayne and the cowboys Mister Anderson, Matt Dillon of Gunsmoke, Lonesome Doves‘ Gus and Captain Call – these movie characters showed the moral standards in which the western cowboy stood for. This is what I liked about Ronald Reagan. You may not have agreed with his politics, but you knew you were dealing with a man that stood by his principles.

I am not a big fan of certified organic. When you have to certify your honesty on how a product is produced it goes against my morals, and it seems to create cheats in the system. I am much more fond of looking someone in the eye, shaking their hand, and telling them the truth about what I have done to produce the product.

This is what the phrase “beef quality assurance” means to me:  Beef producers being honest and having the integrity to learn best management practices.

I travel the country wearing a cowboy hat and with ‘Eat Beef’ stickers on my bags. When I visit with people I want to be able to honestly tell them that they can trust me and the people I represent. There is a man sitting behind me as I write this that came up and shook my hand and thanked me for raising beef. He has two young daughters with him. I owe it to this guy to do the right thing. You owe it to this guy to do the right thing. We owe it to those pretty little girls.

So a big thank you to all the pioneers in the beef industry. My cowboy hat goes off to the folks that started the BQA program many years ago, and to all the dedicated folks that are continuing the education of Beef quality Assurance, and those producers that are on the pursuit of excellence in beef. The Stockmanship and Stewardship program that the NCBA sponsors is a part of the BQA picture. I hope to do my part to increase of knowledge on animal handling and stewardship of our land. I do it in honor of the old timers, for the land and animals, and for the Dad and the two little girls behind me.

To learn how to get BQA certified go to http://www.bqa.org/ to find a meeting near you or get certified online.

~ Curt Pate

VIDEOS: Stockmanship & Stewardship on ‘The Angus Report’

TAR_Stockmanship_02If read the post from yesterday, you know that Curt was recently on The Angus Report, along with fellow stockmanship expert, Ron Gill of Texas. The episode aired on RFD-TV this morning at 7:30am CST. Luckily for those of you that don’t have RFD-TV, the episodes are also available on YouTube for you to view! You’ll find all the videos from the episode (Parts 1-4) embedded in this post below!

Enjoy and let us know what you think!

Jesse Bussard

Mother Nature, predators, and customers

As we move along in the world we are told we are going to be hard pressed to feed everyone in the future and our planet is going to suffer from it.  Many are against the production of livestock claiming it is a big contributor to climate change, bad for the environment, and is cruel to animals.

I am not sure any of these are true. Many things in the past have happened that changed the course of history, so it is hard to predict the future with 100% accuracy.

I do know Mother Nature has had grazing animals and predators working in unison to create balance in the ecosystem for thousands of years.  I just don’t understand what has changed that makes that such a bad thing.

Most of the people that are against the production of livestock are not bad people.  They are simply believing what they believe because of what they have been told. Some do it because of political motivation, some for profit.

It is our job to change these folks’ minds if we can. I like to look at things from a cattle handling perspective, so the first thing we will do is sort ’em up three ways.

Pen number one is the folks that are already enjoying beef.

We must keep this pen full and happy. We must give them what they pay for and make sure we do things at least as well as they expect and better if we can. Just like cattle in a pen, they may not all be the same, but they all deserve the best care possible.  If the folks in this sort want all natural, organic, grass-fed, grain-fed choice, grain-fed select, or hamburger let’s give it to them and keep them happy and well fed. This is a big pen of easy keepers, but we can’t get complacent.  We must keep our eye on them and always be aware of problems that may show up.  In cattle we practice good BQA (Beef Quality Assurance). In this pen we need to practice PQA (People Quality Assurance).

Pen number two are the folks that are a little hard to get to sorted off, are on the edge of jumping the fence, and real nervous when they get in the pen.

We must work with this sort to get them in the pen and once in the pen they will need to be handled properly.  This pen takes a lot of work, but it is very important “to do the right thing” because at some point we may be able to upgrade them and re-sort some to pen number one.  We must be careful this pen does not take all our time and resources and cause us to have issues in pen one.

Pen number three is the smallest pen, are on the fight, want to hurt you, and should be handled with great respect and care.

If you get in the wrong spot and they get the opportunity they will hurt you.  They should only be handled by an experienced professional.  This pen is dangerous.  If you miss a sort on one and they get into pen one or two they can stir the whole pen up and cause problems you could not imagine.

Pen three are the folks that are against animal agriculture or certain segments of it – PETA, HSUS, many environmental groups,  extreme vegetarian and vegans to name a few.  It is hard or impossible to handle pen three type cattle, they bring out strange reactions by folks that are trying to handle them.  Because they are almost impossible to handle in a normal manner we get frustrated and many times do exactly the wrong thing.  If you put pressure on an animal that’s on the fight, crazy, or has lost it’s ability to reason, it can really cause problems.

We in the livestock business must give pen one and two what they need, understand what they want, and understand that the customers are not always right, but they do make the decision to come to the bunk or not.  If we don’t give them what they want pen three is always trying to get them to jump into their pen.

I would like to give you my thoughts on pen three.

We are not going to change the minds of the majority of these folks through reason or force, so it is a waste of time to do so.  The only thing we can do is not make mistakes to give them an opportunity to change the minds of pen one and two.

Allow the best trained professionals to deal with the results of the actions of this group.  This is why I feel it’s important to support organizations that do a good job of handling these situations.

The Beef Check-off seems more important now than ever, and that money must be used properly.  The anti-animal groups have much more money in the bank and the main stream media seems to favor some of their ideas.  We can’t fight them on a dollar to dollar basis, but with a true message that focuses on positive reasons for livestock, the miracle of social media and the great work that our young people are doing with it, we can make more of a difference than ever before.

If you try to find the positive in each situation, it is often helpful.  I look at the folks in pen three as predators to the livestock industry.

In nature predators serve a purpose.  They keep animals bunched, creating a herd that keeps moving together. While in the herd individuals must get along, do the right thing, or they get pushed out and increase the chance of predator attack.

Just like the herd, we in this business need to move together, get along and help each other to keep from being attacked.

Predators not only keep the herd bunched, but also keep them moving to fresh feed, which for animals is moving in the right direction.  This is what makes predators so valuable to our ecosystem.  Because of predators, grazing animals have been improving our environment for thousands of years.

Understand the predators are moving us in the direction that the customer wants us to go. We are much better at animal care and managing our resources because of the pressure put on by the livestock industry predators.

Predators eliminated the weak, overly brave, lazy, and not smart animals. We also must remember that some animals became extinct, and many are struggling to keep from becoming extinct.

As we look at the consumption of beef losing ground to other proteins,  we should take an honest look at what we need to do to improve our place in the environment (industry).  It may require some changes from the way we have survived in the past and it may require going against the wishes or interests that have created success in the past, but is the only way to secure and improve the future of the beef industry.  Remember, people don’t have to eat beef, but want to.  Lets do what it takes increase the desire.

Some in our business have not changed to fit the times. We must be very careful about protecting these folks or the entire industry may suffer.  As in nature, not everyone can survive in this business.

Mother Nature is harsh.  The predators kill in a way that is very disturbing and just looks wrong.

If you look at it from the big picture what they are doing is keeping things in balance and headed in the right direction.  When a prey animal is weak or makes a mistake they are taken out, making the herd stronger and more adapted to the environment at the moment.

It seems to me that if you look at the big picture of the situation, pen number three is very hard to handle, dangerous, and flat out makes you so mad you can hardly stand not to do something.  The trouble is the only thing you can do is to get smarter and try to keep from dealing with the pen three’s.

The big picture is that the predators of the livestock industry are making us much more aware and creating better management of our resources, better care and handling of our livestock and that is keeping pen number one on the gain and real content, hopefully pen number two is realizing that we are getting better at the things they want in our product.

In nature it seems as everything should go along in harmony, with no natural disasters, no suffering, no starvation or any thing negative.  That’s not the way it works.

The livestock business is the same way.  We are going to have great times and we are going to have some challenges.  How we react and what we learn from each challenge is going to determine the direction of the future of the industry.

Listen to the customer, work with Mother Nature, and be careful of predators.

~ Curt Pate

Thoughts and Sights from New Mexico Indian Livestock Days

At the New Mexico Indian Livestock days I presented a stockmanship and stewardship presentation.  We had several pairs with the calves being all different ages and sizes.

This was one of my favorite and in my opinion the best format for a live demonstration.  We actually were able to simulate most of the handling situations that would happen with a cow-calf during an entire year on a western range outfit.

969114_10100186827713051_2014293616_nIn this picture I caught the calf with a long throw that he did not even see coming. I then walked with him on my horse to keep from putting to much pressure on him with the rope.  When I him laid him down nice and easy, he struggled and I applied pressure with my hands and right leg.  As soon as he quit struggling I took most of the pressure off, but not all.  He very quickly learned to relax, and was then ready to be tagged, vaccinated, or whatever else you needed to do.

I feel this is a great first interaction between human and the calf.  The calf will always remember that if he relaxes the pressure will come off.  This will prepare him to be calm in the chute his first time, if he is handled properly.

The next three photos are demonstrating getting control of an older animal, laying it down softly, and having it relaxed enough to accept what you need to do, without having its heart pounding and lungs burning. Click on the photos for a full description of what’s happening.

If you can rope the animal without running it, get it to give to the rope (this is why I rope with a slick horn, to smoothly give a little slack as soon as the animal thinks about not resisting), it will learn to stand.  I then rode a circle around the calf to wrap up his hind legs, laid him down softly and then by keeping his hind feet off the ground, could get off and hold him down.   At this point you secure the calf, and perform whatever procedure that’s needed.  Always remember to practice Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) protocols.

If you can do this type of handling slow and easy it is safe and very effective and can be low stress, however it takes practice and commitment, like all good stockmanship skills.

Hopefully we will have more photos or even some video from our mock branding, sorting, and weaning of these desert cattle.

It was a great day for me.  Horses for Heroes and the Cowboy Up program provided horses and crew.  What an inspiration!

I don’t know if the folks watching learned anything, but I sure learned so much about native traditions, their love of Mother Earth and the horse.

If you ever get a chance, go to New Mexico and learn about the traditions of the Indian.

~ Curt Pate