If you’ve paid attention to local news as I have over the last few months, there have been various special interest groups pointing fingers at local livestock production systems with hopes of painting a picture of the mistreatment of animals. If you have been in agriculture as long as I have, you know that this is nothing new. However, the methodology and tactics of these individuals has become even more insidious and harder to detect by owners and managers.
We traditionally think of down cows as being a target for these special interest groups and certainly it is. Perhaps now is a good time to reevaluate your on farm protocol book, specifically evaluating euthanasia or down animal protocols. Remember down and non-ambulatory animals do not only include cows, but can also include heifers or any animal. Special attention should be paid to the appropriate movement and treatment of animals that is greater than what can physically be lifted by a human. For most people, that’s anything over 100 pounds. That means calf ranch and heifer grower operations need euthanasia and down cow protocols too.
So first, does your protocol book have these two parts included and if so, does it explicitly make clear that the mistreatment of animals will not be tolerated? Does it also say that the mistreatment of animals must be immediately reported to owners or managers upon viewing? If not, this may be something that your operation should consider. Here at the VMC, we have helped multiple livestock operations develop these protocols and will be happy to assist your facility.