Horns and brands: Canada’s beef carcass quality audit

This article written by Dr. Reynold Bergen, BCRC Science Director, originally appeared in the May 2013 issue of Canadian Cattlemen magazine and is reprinted with permission.

Quality audits can identify the most costly defects that impact carcass value, and help to track changes in carcass quality over time. The Canadian Cattlemen’s Association carried out its first carcass quality audit in 1995. The defects identified in that audit became the focus of the CCA’s Quality Starts Here program, and Dr. Joyce van Donkersgoed spent a lot of time educating cattle producers about how to improve carcass quality and value by dehorning calves early and moving brands from the rib to the hip or shoulder. A follow-up audit was carried out in 1999 to measure the progress made in response to the Quality Starts Here program. Plans to repeat the audit were postponed as a result of BSE, but Canada’s third beef quality audit was completed recently. This column gives a quick overview of how the carcass quality audit was conducted, and some of the key findings relevant to cow-calf operators. Continue reading

Pain mitigation: latest video in Beef Research School series

Branding, dehorning and castration are painful, but pain is very difficult to measure in beef cattle. This also makes it difficult to know whether anesthetic or analgesic pain control drugs are effective in cattle. In prey species, displaying weakness attracts predators so cattle have evolved to mask signs of pain. While they may be a stoic animal, there’s no doubt cattle experience varying degrees of discomfort during some routine management practices. The age of the animal, technique of procedure used, and use of pain medication all have an impact on pain.

The latest video in the Beef Research School features Continue reading