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Survey identifies needs, gaps on cattle care, well-being

Written protocols and procedures found to be most impactful resources for improving animal care.

Merck Animal Health (known as MSD Animal Health outside the United States and Canada) announced the results of the "Cattle Care & Well-Being Survey," a survey of U.S. beef producers and veterinarians, that identified resources, topics and training needed to advance cattle care and well-being.

According to Merck, the findings describe the critical role veterinarians play in the lives of cattle producers, and the need for more training when it comes to cattle care and well-being.

“Merck Animal Health is committed to helping the livestock industry advance the health and well-being of cattle, and this survey helps us keep a pulse on the challenges facing producers and veterinarians as well as identify the topics and resources that would be of most value,” said Guy Ellis, bovine technical services veterinarian at Merck Animal Health. “The survey included a cross section of segments and sizes, but interestingly, the needs expressed were very similar.”

Ellis told Feedstuffs at the American Association of Bovine Practitioners annual conference in Phoenix, Ariz., that the survey was developed to determine what needs the beef cattle sector required along the lines of Merck's DairyCares365 program.

The survey had about 650 respondents from the cow/calf, stocker and feedyard segments.

According to Ellis, survey highlights included:

* Written protocols and procedures were found to be the most impactful resources in helping improve animal care, followed by written employee animal care commitments.

* Veterinarians and nutritionists were ranked by all segments of cattle producers, including beef veterinarians, as most influential in setting guidelines for beef cattle care, followed by state and national trade associations and organizations, universities and extension.

* Animal handling was found to be the number one animal welfare topic reported as requiring the most training; identifying and treating sick animals was second, and animal identification and verification was third. The only exception was among beef veterinarians who ranked vaccination protocols third.

* Nearly two-thirds of respondents said they had not participated in third-party certification programs in the last 12 months, although nearly three-fourths had completed the Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program in the past.

* Participants ranked eLearning as their preferred training method, as it gives employees the flexibility to access materials that will benefit them as they work to achieve animal health goals.

“We recognize the significance and quality of education and training the industry currently has available to them but more is needed,” Ellis said. “The fact that survey participants said they value online learning demonstrates the beef industry is able to quickly adapt to new knowledge and techniques to improve the care and welfare of all animals.”

Ellis told Feedstuffs that any training modules Merck may develop, similar to its DairyCares365 program, would complement the BQA program.

Full results of the survey are still being compiled and Merck will have additional insights and a full report available in the future

TAGS: News Beef
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