More than 125 feedlot cowboys gathered in Dodge City, Kan. this past week for the third annual Drovers Feedlot Cowboy College.
Attendees came from 14 different states and Canada to hear veterinarians Dan Thomson, Mike Apley and Tom Noffsinger led discussions on animal handling and health.
“The people are the key. Not the steel and concrete,” Noffsinger says of low stress handling. Noffsinger practices veterinary medicine from Benkelman, Neb. and specializes in low stress animal handling training.
Cattle producers shouldn't use facility design as an excuse for poor animal handling. If that animal is not instilled with confidence you might as well put the vaccine back in the bottle, Noffsinger relates.
“The more high risk cattle you put into a facility the higher risk your low risk cattle will become,” says Thomson, professor of veterinary medicine at Kansas State University and host of DocTalk.
Thomson adds the three most inconsistent things in the feedlot are cattle, weather and people.
An area where the U.S. could improve problems like respiratory disease would be through a standardized identification system. Thomson thinks if something were in place similar to Australia’s electronic identification system it would allow the cattle industry to more easily detect disease.
The government has recently stepped in when it comes to antibiotics in feed through the Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD). Full implementation of the VFD begins on Dec. 31, 2016.
Apley believes transparency of antibiotic use is only going to ramp up in the future.
“Our consumers are demanding it (antibiotic use transparency) and the people who sell the final food product are demanding it. As well as the government having a great interest in it,” says Apley, professor of veterinary medicine and clinical pharmacology at K-State.