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August 2013 Archive for 100% Grass-Fed

RSS By: Randy Kuhn, Beef Today

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.

Cattle handling

Aug 24, 2013

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 herds health for the upcoming fall/winter season.

 

This week we will be looking at Safe Handling of your cattle both 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 Vision

   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 arm’s around like your trying to take flight.  That only get’s the cattle upset and they tend not to be very cooperative. My wife & I spend time with our Beefalo at least twice a day.  We don’t only have contact when feeding them.  We simply walk around/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.  Realizing all the time that they are still wild animals that we need to respect and have a certain level of fear for.  But at the same time not treating them like "Wild Animals".  While their 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 instruction

 

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.).

BQA5

Aug 20, 2013

Thank you all for returning for Part 5 of a 6 part series focusing on BQA.

I know what your thinking!  I thought this was a 5 part series?

SURPRISE!! I thought of some other issues to cover next week.

But for this week, we’ll be talking about…..

BQA’s Transportation Quality Assurance

Transportation quality assurance plays a critical role in the health and welfare of cattle.  The proper handling and transport of cattle can reduce sickness in calves, prevent bruises, and improve the quality of the meat from these animals.

If you’re a cattle transporter, you play a critical role in the health & welfare of the cattle we all raise.  The proper handling and transport of cattle can reduce sickness in calves, prevent bruises, and improve the quality of the meat from all our animals.  By utilizing BQA transport practices, you and other transporters literally save our beef cattle industry million$ of dollar$ a year!  Participation in the BQA Master Cattle Transporter program is one way to show your customers that you are ready to take every step possible to keep their cattle healthy and safe as possible.

*Extreme wind and cold conditions can have a drastic adverse effect on the health of cattle.  Unprotected cattle hauled at highway speeds can be subject to dangerous wind chills.   If cattle are wet, the danger is even greater.  *Extreme wind and cold conditions exist when the wind chill is below 0 degrees. 

If transporting cattle cannot be avoided during the above mentioned conditions, avoid stopping if at all possible.  You want to get the cattle to their/your destination as quickly as possible.

For example, even at slow speeds like 25 miles per hour when the outside temperature is 0 degrees Fahrenheit, it will feel like -44 !!  Again if you cannot avoid transporting cattle is extremely cold conditions, the best/warmest time of the day should be between 11am & 4pm.  The same is true in a reverse kind of way when transporting cattle during extremely hot temperatures.  AVOID transporting cattle between 11am & 4pm.  I understand most of you already know this, and there are a few of you who are strongly against being told how to do anything, (and have stated that fact numerous times), but it can’t hurt to be reminded?

What I’ve been relaying via this blog over the last 5 weeks are general recommendations set forth by the BQA program to help you & I as cattle producers to think about what we do when handling our cattle.  I’m not telling you that you need to change what your doing.  If what your doing currently works for you and your cattle, and your conscious is clear about how you do it, keep it up!  Share your experiences with other producers.  I’m open to others ideas.  Just as some of you are open minded to the way I do things and have been willing to share with all of you.  Next week we’ll be wrapping up the Annual BQA series of this blog focusing on the loading and unloading guidelines.

BQA Because it the right thing to do

Aug 14, 2013

This week is part 4 in a 5 part series as we take a look at BQA

Beef Quality Assurance

BQA can help make a positive public perception of your cattle operation

and the BEEF industry as a whole.

We raise our 100% Grass-fed BEEFALO by following the guidelines set forth below,

even though allot of the following is not part of our practices Ex. "Medicated Feeds & Additives".

 

Raising your Cattle strictly on grass & hay will make following the BQA guidelines easier for you as a producer, not to mention it’s healthier for your cattle & allot more economical for your operation!

Feed Additives and Medications

  • Only FDA approved medicated feed additives will be used in rations.
  • Medicated feed additives will be used in accordance with the FDA Good Manufacturing
  • Practices (GMP) regulation.
  • Follow 'Judicious Antibiotic Use Guidelines'.
  • Extra-label use of feed additives is illegal and strictly prohibited.
  • To avoid violative residues: withdrawal times must be strictly adhered to.
  • Where applicable, complete records must be kept when formulating or feeding medicated feed rations.
  • Records are to be kept a minimum of two years.
  • The producer will assure that all additives are withdrawn at the proper time to avoid violative residues.

Feedstuffs

  • Maintain records of any pesticide/herbicide use on pasture or crops that could potentially lead to violative residues in grazing cattle or feedlot cattle.
  • Adequate quality control program(s) are in place for incoming feedstuffs. Program(s) should be designed to eliminate contamination from molds, mycotoxins or chemicals of incoming feed ingredients. Supplier assurance of feed ingredient quality is recommended.
  • Suspect feedstuffs should be analyzed prior to use.
  • Ruminant-derived protein sources cannot be fed per FDA regulations.

BQA3

Aug 07, 2013

This is the 3rd installment of 5, focusing on Beef Quality Assurance. 

This week we’ll keep it short and simple.

 

   I don’t think that what is required by the BQA Program is anything that any BEEF producer can’t uphold.  Committing to the BQA way of producing BEEF & Dairy BEEF isn’t going to cost you anything more than what you’re currently doing, In the long run it could actually save you money!

 

   It’s a way of helping producers to improve the way they handle their cattle from birth to butchering.  The BQA program wasn’t designed to make things harder for producers; it was designed by producers for producers.  It’s mostly common sense. Once you enroll in the program, go to the classes and hear what is expected of you to be eligible to carry the BQA certification, you might even ask yourself, why wasn’t I doing this before!?  It’s so much better for my cattle and everyone involved in my cattle operation. 

The BQA Code of Conduct

  • I received training in BQA and use it on my beef cattle enterprise (Farm, Ranch, Feed-lot), because I have a commitment to consumers to produce the safest, highest quality beef in the world.
  • I use BQA production practices because maintaining an optimum environment for cattle to produce at their best promotes efficiency and quality at the same time. BQA training has shown me that keeping records of all my production practices is the best way for me to reduce liability, provide quality assurance to my customers, and continue to ensure a safe beef supply through strict adherence to residue avoidance practices.
  • BQA has taught me to think about all of my production practices in light of their effect on the quality of the final product.
  • BQA is a combination of technology, common sense, a concern for animal well-being, and a consumer oriented production system.

 

BQA Code of Cattle Care

Beef cattle producers take pride in their responsibility to provide proper care to cattle. The Code of Cattle Care lists general recommendations for care and handling of cattle. 

  • 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 humanly euthanize terminally sick or injured livestock and dispose of them properly.
  • Provide personnel with training/experience 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 upon sound production practices and consideration for animal well-being.

Persons who willfully mistreat animals will not be tolerated.

BQA Part 2

Aug 01, 2013

This Blog is Part-2 of 5, which outlines the benefits of implementing the BQA program into your BEEF farming operation.  It’s works on herds of 4 to 4,000.  Even animal rights activists can agree that BQA is a step in the right direction for BEEF producers.  The following is an excerpt from the National BQA outline.

In coming weeks/Blogs, we’ll show you how to incorporate the BQA program into your farming operation.  It’ll improve the welfare of your Cattle and your bottom line.

WHY BQA? 

Because in this Cattleman’s opinion…

It’s the right thing to do!

BQA Value-Added Beef

The BQA program's early emphasis was on assuring the real and perceived safety of beef. Gary Smith, Colorado State University Monfort Chair and professor of meat sciences, says BQA programming has been instrumental in building beef demand in the U.S. and elsewhere.
"Measures [in the early 1980s] were successfully designed to discourage inappropriate use . . . of antibiotics," he explains. "This included educating stakeholders about proper use of pharmaceutical products and the honoring of withdrawal times."

But ensuring safe beef products by implementing proper use of pharmaceuticals is only one aspect of the BQA program today.  BQA programs have evolved to include best practices around good record keeping and protecting herd health, which can result in more profits for producers.

"If you look at the measurable losses in [market] cows and bulls from the audits, including losses from bruising and injection sites, we were losing about $70 per animal.  With 4.5 to 5 million head marketed each year, that’s a considerable chunk of money," notes Dr. Dee Griffin, DVM, and associate professor at the University of Nebraska’s Great Plains Veterinary Education Center.

Griffin says that one way BQA can add value at market is by implementing it with older animals as well as with younger fed cattle.  "Many restaurants only buy cuts of meat from ‘A’ maturity cattle.  Each year the U.S. has to import tons of meat to fulfill this age requirement.  It’s not because the age of the animals produces that much of a lower quality product; it’s because the industry does such a good job at managing the younger fed cattle.  There is a tremendous opportunity if we can improve adherence with BQA standards in the older animals.  This goes for application across the industry, including both beef and dairy producers," says Dr. Griffin.

Source referenced: Peck, Clint. "Going Forward with BQA." Beef Magazine. September 1, 2006.


Beef Operations Benefit

BQA does more than just help beef producers capture more value from their market cattle: BQA also reflects a positive public image and instills consumer confidence in the beef industry. When producers implement the best management practices of a BQA program, they assure their market steers, heifers, cows, and bulls are the best they can be. Today, the stakes are even higher because of increased public attention on animal welfare. BQA is valuable to all beef and dairy producers because it:

  • Demonstrates commitment to food safety and quality.
  • Safeguards the public image of the dairy industry.
  • Upholds consumer confidence in valuable beef products.
  • Protects the beef industry from additional and burdensome government regulation.
  • Improves sale value of marketed beef cattle.
  • Enhances herd profitability through better management.

Beef Check-off supported BQA programs bring it all together.  While the BQA Manual provides a framework for program consistency, the states still determine the best programs for their producers.

"Because the beef industry is so diversified, we wanted to allow states the opportunity to provide what is best for their producers.  The BQA Manual is the overarching protocol, providing some consistency across the state programs.  They are good production practices to guarantee the quality of beef products," comments Dr. Dee Griffin, DVM.

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