Beef Buzz News
The Importance of Good Cattle Handling Skills with Dr. Stephen Boyles
Fri, 21 Jan 2022 09:55:18 CST
Recently, a unique seminar was offered to exhibitors and producers that featured national beef industry and breed leaders with Beef Quality Assurance at the 2022 Cattlemen’s Congress. The seminar also allowed folks to earn their BQA certification.
Listen to Ron's conversation with Dr. Boyles here.
Dr. Stephen Boyles, a beef cattle extension special for The Ohio State University, was one of the speakers helping with producer certification at the event. He is also the 2021 BQA Educator of the Year. Ron Hays, senior reporter for the Oklahoma Farm Report, caught up with Boyles after his presentation, which focused on cattle handling best practices.
“People understand the human side,” Boyles said. “From the animal side, for their safety from an animal welfare side and an economic standpoint, bruising causes the beef industry millions of dollars every year.”
All that loss can be avoided by deploying better animal-handling skills, Boyles said.
“There are two speeds to work cattle; there is human speed and animal speed,” Boyle said. “We need to work cattle at cattle speed. Normally, we think cattle speed is slower, but it actually ends up being faster.”
Boyle said stress needs to be reduced when handling cattle - especially with heifers and cows, who will likely live at the ranch for many years.
“You are developing a relationship - an understanding with those animals for a number of years,” Boyles said. “If they get to know us and our movements, then they are going to understand, ‘Oh, this person wants me to move this way,’ and rather than be frantic about it, they are going to move in an easy matter.”
Boyles points out the fact that cattle are trainable, just like a horse or a dog. At the same time, handling cattle gently and humanely go far with consumers, according to Boyles.
“Our consumers expect this,” Boyles said. “It is not just the product itself - they expect this product to be brought to them a certain way. It makes them feel good to eat beef when they understand that an animal was handled in a proper way.”
Boyles said a great rule to remember is to always try to get cattle to walk somewhere instead of run. The proof is in the blood chemistry, according to Boyles.
“It affects the meat quality,” Boyles said. “If an animal is highly stressed, you could get what is called a dark cutter.”
There is nothing unsafe about meat that comes from an animal that underwent long-term stress during slaughter, but the meat is not as attractive to consumers. Dark-cutting beef will look darker than normal and can appear firm and dry.
In the end, good cattle handling skills are important on an economic level, but also on an ethical level.
Click on the LISTEN BAR below to hear more from Ron Hays and Dr. Boyles as they talk about cattle handling best practices.
The Beef Buzz is a regular feature heard on radio stations around the region on the Radio Oklahoma Network and is a regular audio feature found on this website as well. Click on the LISTEN BAR below for today’s show and check out our archives for older Beef Buzz shows covering the gamut of the beef cattle industry today.
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