“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.
If you've ever bailed hay all summer to put up as winter feed your heart will ache for the Montana ranchers who lost 9,000 bales of hay due to flooding according to Billings TV station KTVQ.
Central northern states like Colorado, Wyoming and Montana are able to produce great beef cattle because of summer hay stores that are fed to cattle in deep snow-covered pastures often using horse teams pulling sleds all winter. In recent years many states have experienced hay shortages due to drought conditions. This has not only driven up the price for available hay, it's made local quality hay harder to find for horse and cattle owners. Many small owners banding together to buy hay in bulk and spread shipping costs has kept them afloat, while others have had to sell off parts of their beef herd and horses.
In the past some states that have had hay made efforts to provide for states that were struggling to feed their livestock. During Northern Colorado's flooding of the Poudre and Big Thompson rivers last year many livestock owners were struggling to keep their herds healthy after the immediately after the heavy rains. In the longer term, they had to rely on hay to feed their stock coming from longer distances pushing many ranchers and farmers into debt.
For flood pictures and up-to-the-moment coverage, please follow the link to KTVQ TV's website.
The first week of school can be intimidating for incoming freshman and transfer students, but the College of Agriculture welcomes their students with a special Ram Camp Experience. This year the students in animal and equine science also got a tour of the newly renovated Animal Sciences building, a get up-close and personal with Cam the Ram, a riding demonstration by John Synder, the colt riding class instructor and coach of the ranch horse versatility team and Dr. Denniston, assistant professor and horse judging team coach took the ALS ice bucket challenge in the arena in front of the whole group.
There were also a few upgrades out at the equine center that happened over the spring and summer including new tie rails in the Adams-Atkinson Arena and a full-sized horse skeleton that was made by two students for their independent study project and is already being used for anatomy lessons. The school horses started their term helping students in multiple classes. We’re looking forward to a great year in both programs. Go Rams!