“When we talk about beef quality assurance it’s completely a producer driven and voluntary program,” said Katy Lippolis, Colorado BQA coordinator. “Our producers want to be kept up to date with these management practices.”
Lippolis explained that the program, based on a set of national guidelines backed by decades of scientific research, had an end goal to protect consumer confidence in beef quality.
Dr. Temple Grandin and Curt Pate, advocates for the humane treatment and handling of livestock, shared their knowledge about stockmanship and stewardship with participants at the workshop on September 5th and 6th.
They both discussed how producers could use the cattle’s’ natural behavior to create low-stress handling situations. This falls in line with the BQA standards for care and marketplace transparency for consumers.
In her keynote address, Dr. Grandin stressed the importance of creating positive first experiences for the animals and measuring outcomes for specific indicators to prevent bad practices from becoming normal behavior in the industry.
“If there’s one thing I want you to get out of my talk tonight, I want you measuring handling,” said Dr. Grandin. “The thing that’s good about a very objective based system is that if you audit it or I audit it, we get the same results.”
During the cattle handling portion of the workshop, Mr. Pate demonstrated that our natural inclination to fall in behind the cattle as if we were stepping in line behind another person only served to turn the cattle around to stop and look at us.
“I’ve got to change the way I do things to fit the animal,” said Pate. “It’s not going to change to fit me, I’ve got to change to fit it.”
When Mr. Pate moved in a zig-zag linear pattern behind the cattle, he took advantage of their field of vision which extends in a large peripheral arc on each side. They were able to see him from either side and moved forward in the desired direction while he avoided standing in the blind spot directly behind them.
Dr. Grandin demonstrated how to take advantage of the cattle’s natural following behavior in her cattle handling system of soft curves and solid walls leading to a squeeze chute. Throughout the process the cattle moved smoothly without fear through the system.
At the end of the demonstration sessions, Ms. Lippolis drew all the material about stockmanship and stewardship together and showed how it was interwoven into the BQA goal: to promote thoughtful, responsible cattle management. Participants took a test about the material and became BQA certified as part of the event.