Survey of BQA Cattle Handling Practices That Occurred During Processing Feedlot Cattle

Wednesday, July 23, 2014: 2:30 PM
2104B (Kansas City Convention Center)
Ruth Woiwode , Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Temple Grandin , Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO
Abstract Text:

The public is increasingly concerned with how animals in production agriculture are treated.  The objective of this study was to ascertain feedlot performance in Beef Quality Assurance cattle handling categories.  A survey was conducted to quantify prevalence of cattle handling practices that adhere to BQA guidelines.  Data were collected at 28 feedlots ranging in size from 5,000 to over 100,000 head in Colorado, Kansas, and Nebraska.  According to BQA guidelines, 100 cattle were observed during handling at every site except for two, where 90 and 78 head were observed due to lack of cattle.  Data were collected on percentage of cattle moved with an electric prod, percentage that vocalized after capture in the squeeze chute before procedure, percentage of falls while exiting the squeeze chute, percentage stumbling while exiting, and percentage jumping and running upon exit from the squeeze chute.  Feedlots in this survey performed above BQA guidelines in the categories of electric prod use (5.5% vs. 10%); vocalization (1.4% vs. 5%), stumbles (6.7% vs. 10%), falls (0.8% vs. 2%), and cattle that jumped and ran from the squeeze chute (12.8% vs. 25%).  The mean percentage of cattle moved with an electric prod was 5.5%, with a range of 0% to 45%; cattle that vocalized in the chute before procedure was a mean of 1.4% with a range of 0% to 5.1%.  The mean percentage of cattle stumbling while exiting the squeeze chute was 6.7%, with a range of 0% to 28%; cattle falling was 0.5%, with a range of 0% to 2%.  The mean percentage of cattle that jumped and ran out of the squeeze chute was 12.8%, with a range of 0.1% to 18%; cattle miscaught in the squeeze chute was 2%, with a range of 0% to 16.1%.  Under BQA guidelines, there is zero tolerance for an improper catch that is not adjusted, and feedlots in this survey show some room for improvement, with a mean score of 2% vs the BQA guideline of 0%.  Of the improper catches, 60% were not adjusted.  Round crowd pen handling systems were used at 25 yards, and 3 yards used Bud box handling systems.  At one feedlot, a contract crew employee jerked out ear tags, resulting in some ear splits.  Discussion with feedlot managers revealed increased awareness of the importance of moving small groups of cattle into the crowd pen, and avoiding yelling. 

Keywords: cattle handling, BQA guidelines, feedlots