Our family farming history began with my great-great-... (nine generations ago) grandfather Johannes. He, his wife and three children left Saxony, Germany, on April 20, 1734, aboard the ship St. Andrew, mastered by Capt. John Stedman. They landed at Philadelphia on Sept. 22 and eventually settled our family’s first "New World" farm near Society Run in Frederick Township, Montgomery County, Pa., in 1743. Pig farming was our family’s specialty until the mid 1950s. A lot has changed since then. Our BQA cow–calf operation includes 100% grass-fed registered Red Angus, Hereford and purebred Beefalo; 30 to 35 pastured Duroc and Spot pigs; 100 Freedom Ranger broilers; and 90 Golden Comet and Buff Orpington layers. We organically maintain 80 acres, comprising 15 acres in rotational pastures, 15 acres in tillable cropland, and alfalfa/mixed grass hay on the balance. We have never used chemical pesticides or herbicides on our pastures or hay fields. We are not a "certified" organic farming operation, but we prefer the natural/organic approach to help promote sustainability.
BQA Part 6 of 6
Feb 09, 2012
It’s time for part 6 of our 6-part series.
We’ve been taking our annual look at how the BQA (Beef Quality Assurance) program could help you streamline your cattle operation and increase the sustainability of your herd's health for the upcoming season.
This week, we will look at safe handling of your cattle on the farm, ranch or feedlot as well as at your destination when delivering cattle. For those of you who have attended NCBA’s "Stockman & Stewardship" class at a BQA event near you, some of the following information will be a good refresher.
Cattle have a wide area of peripheral vision, with only a small blind spot immediately behind the animal.
Do not approach cattle from directly behind.
* Flight Zone
The flight zone is the distance that the cattle can be from you and still feel comfortable. You can use the flight zone to quietly move cattle.
* Point of Balance and Movement
- There is a place on the shoulder of the animal called the point of balance.
- You can use this point to encourage the animal to go forward and backward.
- You should move cattle calmly and slowly.
- Quick movements and loud noises will make moving cattle more difficult.
* Moving Aids
"Persuaders" such as flags, plastic paddles, and a stick with plastic ribbons should replace electric prods as much as possible.
An electric prod should NOT be a person’s primary driving tool. It should be a last resort, only to be picked up and used when absolutely needed to move a stubborn animal and then should be put back down. "Persuaders" are the best tools for moving cattle. These devices can be used to turn cattle by blocking their vision on one side of their head.
In my opinion, if you need to use any "persuaders" to move your cattle, you aren’t spending enough time with them. We move our cattle with our voices, not yelling and swinging your arms around like you're trying to take flight. That only gets the cattle upset and they tend not to be very cooperative. My wife and I spend time with our Beefalo at least twice a day. We don’t have contact only when feeding them. We simply walk around and through them. We talk to them, not really expecting an answer, but sometimes getting a response anyway! We rub their shoulders and back, and some of them like a good rub under their jaw. We realize that they are still wild animals that we need to respect and have a certain level of fear for. But at the same time, we do not treat them like "wild animals." While they're in our care, we treat them very well. And in return, when they are "finished" here, they treat us very well.
Checklist: PRIOR TO LOADING
* Clean truck:
- Between species
- Between changes from feeders to fat cattle
- Once a day
- Clean top to bottom, front to back, inside to outside
* Driver’s schedule for the day – needs to know:
- Specific locations of load pickups and drop-offs
- Phone numbers of producers at pickup and drop-off
- Approximate loading time
- Other relevant information about the shipment
- Correct pen number
- Correct lot number
- Sale barn buyer number
- Head count and loading instructions
Checklist: FOR UNLOADING
- Determine if you are at the correct facility before unloading.
- Weigh truck if cattle are to be weighed on the truck.
- Back the trailer up to unloading chute squarely and evenly.
- Determine if unloading chute is in good repair (if portable, it must be properly anchored to truck).
- Make sure the gates to the destination pen are open and the path is clear, then unload cattle from the truck.
- Use good, low-stress handling procedures.
- Be sure the holding pen gate is shut for the cattle before pulling away from the chute.
- Weigh truck empty, unless cattle are weighed on the ground.
- Give all documents to the recipient of the cattle (health certificate, inspection papers, brand papers, etc.).