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Compliance of large feedyards in the northern high plains with the Beef Quality Assurance Feedyard Assessment

Woiwode, R., Grandin, T., Kirch, B., Paterson, J.
The Professional animal scientists 2016 v.32 no.6 pp. 750-757
beef quality, cattle, compliance, feedlots, jumping, quality control, rubber, vocalization
Despite increasing public scrutiny of practices used in raising animals for food, there is little readily available information about how cattle handling is managed in feedyards. The purpose of this study was to score cattle handling in commercial feedyards using the most widely adopted program for managing cattle handling, and to make these scores available as evidence of producer commitment to proper care and handling of cattle. Our objectives were to estimate compliance with the Beef Quality Assurance Feedyard Assessment (BQA FA) for cattle handling, to validate 6 cattle handling categories of the BQA FA, and to document management practices and elements of facility design. Categories scored were electric prod use; chute operation; rates of cattle vocalizing, stumbling, and falling; and rate of cattle jumping and running. This study compiles findings for cattle handling scores in commercial feedlots using the BQA FA. Of 28 sites, average scores were in compliance with BQA FA for the following 4 categories: electric prod use, vocalization, stumbling, and falling. For the following 2 categories, average scores were not in compliance: a score of 4.2% versus the target of 0% was recorded for cattle caught improperly in the squeeze chute; and a score of 52% versus the target of 25% was recorded for cattle that jumped or ran from the squeeze chute exit. All but one site exceeded this target. Curved crowd systems were recorded for 89% of feedyards, 11% used Bud Box systems, and 78.5% had rubber mats at the squeeze chute exit.