New results released on market cow and bull audit
Newly released audit data about market cows and bulls suggests the industy has made significant improvements in several areas, including: herd management techniques, animal welfare and handling, hide damage, injection-site location and bruises.
In all cattle types surveyed, the vast majority of cattle walked normally into the packing facility with no apparent lameness. There has been a trend toward increased body condition scores in beef and dairy cows since 2007, the research showed, while body condition has stayed relatively constant for the bull population. Meanwhile, about 98 percent of cattle surveyed had no visible swellings resulting from an injection of animal health products, and incidence of injection-site lesions in the round have dropped considerably since 1998.
While identification of bruising in the 1999 National Cow and Bull Beef Quality Audit helped lead to significant industry improvements in bruise reduction from 1999 to 2007, there is still an opportunity to decrease the prevalence of carcass bruising. In addition, greater attention to the size and location of brands could reduce lost opportunities in hide value.
The research relative to market cows and bulls was last conducted in 2007. The 2016 data is the second part of the National Beef Quality Audit. NBQA Steer and Heifer results were released in July this year. Both studies are funded by the Beef Checkoff Program.
“Cows and bulls are the foundation of our cattle herds. They also are significant sources of beef that are well worth understanding,” said Dan Kniffen, Beef Quality Assurance Advisory Board chairman. “Well-being is of critical importance to the animals and to us as beef producers who are stewards of their care. The NBQA helps us find ways to improve our production practices of cows and bulls.”
The following four directives were identified for industry improvement:
Recognize and optimize the value of market cows and bulls;
Proactively ensure the safety and integrity of the product;
Use appropriate management and handling practices to prevent quality defects; and
Closely monitor herd health and market cattle appropriately and in a timely fashion.
“Additional emphasis on education contained in the Dairy FARM and Beef Quality Assurance programs can further propel the momentum of the cow and bull industry,” Kniffen said.
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