Speakers emphasized the importance of cattle handling techniques, addressed new research on cattle welfare, gave updates on the beef quality assurance program, and talked about the appropriate use of antibiotics in cattle.
More than 100 ranchers, cattlemen and other cattle enthusiasts attended this successful seminar, which was organized by Dr. Anita Varga, a livestock clinician at the UC Davis Livestock and Surgery Service, in conjunction with the college's FARM Club and Behavior Medicine Club.
Dr. Lynn Locatelli, a cattle-handling specialist with Cattlexpressions, trains and consults cattlemen, feedlot managers and laymen about the principles of low stress and humane handling of beef cattle.
At the seminar, she emphasized the importance of the cattle handler’s actions and the way that these actions affect cattle behavior. Locatelli believes that we can shape cattle to respond appropriately, by training them to respond to pressure.
Locatelli presented the concept of the pressure zone and showed that it can be more effective than the flight zone. When used properly, the pressure zone allows for more fine tuned movements, quieter handling and does not elicit a fear-based reaction in cattle.
She noted that these pressure zones vary between individuals, age groups and breeds, so it is important that cattlemen make adjustments in technique based on the cattle they are working with.
Locatelli also emphasized the proper use and design of facilities.
She introduced the concept of the “Bud Box”, a crowd pen designed by Bud Williams, which takes advantage of the natural instinct of cattle to flow back from where they came. When used appropriately, the “Bud Box” enables calm and efficient loading of cattle into the lead up during processing.
Through the use of video footage, Locatelli effectively conveyed low stress handling techniques and was able to highlight both good and bad cattle handling practice.
Dr. Cassandra Tucker, an expert in animal welfare from the UC Davis Department of Animal Science, presented recent research on cattle behavior, specifically how cattle respond to weather change. She also introduced new weaning techniques that have shown to be less stressful for both calf and dam.
The California Cattlemen’s Association is helping fund Tucker’s most recent research project that will evaluate pain management and healing time associated with branding. The results of this project will be covered at next year’s seminar.
Dr. James Oltjen, from the UC Davis Department of Animal Science UC Cooperative Extension, is a specialist in livestock systems management and has been involved with the Beef Quality Assurance Program for over 20 years. He provided an update on the Beef Quality Assurance Program and helped producers enroll in the program.
Dr. John Maas, from the UC Davis Cooperative Extension program is a national expert on the veterinary care of beef cattle.
He provided an interactive overview of the most common drugs used to treat bovine respiratory disease, emphasized the animal and human health implications of antibiotic use, and gave producers insight on appropriate, economical antibiotic use.
The 2nd Annual Beef Improvement Seminar will be held in early 2013. Suggestions can be emailed to Dr. Anita Varga.
Updates regarding next year's seminar will be available on UC Davis Livestock and Surgery Service's Facebook page.
TOP: Attendees registered for the seminar outside the Glady Valley Lecture Hall at UC Davis.
BOTTOM: Seminar speakers and organizers, from left to right: Dr. Anita Varga, Amy Achilles, Dr. John Maas, Katrina Thompson, Dr. Lynn Locatelli, Kevin Bauer, Dr. Cassandra Tucker, Kate Platt, Cassie Clemens, Sean Hardcastle, and Dr. James Oltjen. Photos courtesy of Dr. Anita Varga.