Survey of management and marketing practices on U.S. cow-calf operations and evaluation of different captive bolt lengths in a commercial slaughter plant

Martin, Miriam Sharon, author
Grandin, Temple M., advisor
Edwards-Callaway, Lily, advisor
Delmore, Lynn, committee member
Rollin, Bernard, committee member
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Colorado State University. Libraries
Finding ways to objectively measure welfare within different sectors of the beef industry is necessary to continually improve cattle welfare from birth to slaughter. The first objective of Study 1 was to benchmark cow-calf producer perspectives on management strategies and challenges that ultimately affect cattle welfare on ranches in the United States. The second objective of Study 1 was to quantify how producers are marketing their calf crop, their priorities when selecting replacements, and if producers saw value in handling and care guidelines. A total of 1,414 responses from cow-calf producers in 44 states were collected through a survey done in partnership with BEEF Magazine. Thirty questions were asked of producers to gather demographic information, producers' current handling and health management practices, and how they prioritized industry challenges. As well as establish at what age and through what avenue producers are marketing their calf crop, and gauge producer perspectives on a quality assessment outlining handling and care guidelines. After analyses of producer responses, it was concluded that the frequency of management methods and decisions are impacted by age, operation size, location, and BQA certification [P-values ≤ 0.009]. A higher percentage of respondents who were BQA certified used electronic eartags, followed by freeze branding [P-value = 0.009]. A higher percentage of respondents not BQA certified used basic eartags and hot branding. 74.5% of respondents were preconditioning their calf crop. A higher percentage of respondents were preconditioning their calf crop that were BQA certified, than those who were not BQA certified [P-value < 0.001]. The most important beef industry challenge identified was cow-calf health and the biggest challenge to producer's own operation was identified as land availability/price. The most important animal health issues on producers' operations were identified as Bovine Respiratory Disease, flies, Pinkeye, and reproductive health. Health challenge responses varied significantly by producer age, beef cow inventory, and region of the United States [P-values < 0.001]. By producer age, calf/neonate health was identified as the biggest challenge for respondents under the age of 30 [P-value < 0.001]. Respondents age 55-70 responded that Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD)/regulations was more of a challenge than any other age group. The percentage of respondents who marketed their calf crop at certain ages varied by herd size [P-value < 0.001]. Respondents with 50 head or less or more than 1,000 head more frequently retained their calf crop through finishing and respondents with 51 to 200 head and 201 head to 500 head more frequently backgrounded and then sold their calf crop. Respondents' top priorities when selecting bulls were calving ease, followed by growth and feed efficiency traits. When selecting females, top priorities were reproductive efficiency, followed by mothering ability. The percentage of respondents using pain management differed by whether or not a vet had offered to administer a drug for pain management [P-value < 0.001]. 13.5% of respondents answered yes, a veterinarian had offered to administer a drug for pain management when castrating or dehorning. Of those 13.5% who responded yes pain management had been offered, 54.55% of respondents chose to use a pain relief method. A higher percentage of producers that precondition also indicated that they use a pain relief method when castrating or dehorning more frequently, though it was still a low percentage [P-value = 0.006]. Overall, 46.3% of respondents saw value in handling and care guidelines and 54.9% of respondents saw value in a program including source and age verification, a vaccination plan, and handling and care guidelines. Respondents who were BQA certified, had a beef cow inventory of 501 to 1,000 head, who preconditioned their calves and backgrounded them before selling, and who lived in the West more frequently saw value in a quality assessment outlining handling and care guidelines [P- values ≤ 0.015]. The objective of Study 2 was to examine the effects of captive bolt length and breed type on post-stun leg activity in cattle. A total of 2,850 Holstein (HOL) and non-Holstein British/Continental bred (NHOL) steers and heifers were observed post-stunning at a large commercial slaughter facility. A penetrating pneumatic captive bolt stunner was used with three different bolt lengths: CON, 15.24 cm; MED, 16.51 cm; and LON, 17.78 cm. Hind limb kicking, forelimb activity, take away belt stops, carcass swing and number of knife sticks during exsanguination were recorded for each animal from video recording. Hind limb and forelimb kicks observed ranged from 0 to 25 and 0 to 8, respectively. A significant main effect of treatment [P < 0.001], breed type [P < 0.001] and an interaction between treatment and breed type [P < 0.001] on hind limb activity was found. Analysis of post-stun hind limb and forelimb activity indicated that increasing pneumatic captive bolt length does not decrease post-stun leg activity but alternatively can increase kicking when using the longest bolt tested in particular types of cattle, i.e. Holsteins. Other parameters associated with the shackling and hoisting process were impacted by breed type as well. There was a higher percentage of cattle experiencing take away belt stops and carcass swing in HOL as compared with NHOL.
2018 Spring.
Includes bibliographical references.
cattle, stunning, welfare, marketing, beef quality assurance, value-added