Management of Improve Beef Quality


Source: North Dakota State University

Proper Implant Placement

  • Correct placement
  • Results of improperly placed implants
  • Common implanting errors

Implanting cattle with growth implants correctly is imperative to the effectiveness of the product. The correct placement (shown in Figure 4) is on the back-side of the ear, between the skin and cartilage, in the middle third of the ear.

Figure 4. Proper implant placement.

Improper placement of implants potentially decreases the efficacy of the implants, but it may also result in other production concerns. Such concerns include additional trim loss at the packing plant, consumer concern about the safety and wholesomeness of the product, and regulatory liability. Do not place implants anywhere but the middle third of the ear. Implants located anywhere other than the middle third of the ear constitute extra-label use and can result in a loss of carcass value. Improper implant placement has the potential for localized cut-out losses or even condemnation, leading to economic loss.

Common errors of implanting include crushing of the implant, depositing the implant into the cartilage, severing a blood vessel, infected or abscessed sites, and improper location. Crushed pellets cause release of active ingredients too quickly. Side effects may appear and the implant will not be effective as long as expected. To avoid crushing, always remember to partially withdraw the needle before inserting the implant. Depositing the implant in the cartilage may decrease the effectiveness of the implant. There is very little blood flow in the cartilage tissue, so there can be no absorption of the active ingredients from implants inserted in the cartilage. Severing a blood vessel gives the opposite effect. When blood vessels are severed, absorption is often too rapid, side effects may appear, and the implant will not be effective as long as expected.

Infections are often caused by poor sanitation and implanting into wet or muddy ears. Good sanitation should always be observed, by not implanting into wet and muddy ears and remembering to disinfect the needle after each use.

Always read the label on the product for proper instructions on approved use.

Feeds and Feed Additives

  • Feedstuffs and sources
  • Feed additives and medications
  • Meat and bone meal

Quality nutrition is important to the performance and efficiency of cattle. Good beef starts with good feed and nutrition. High quality feedstuffs are free of mycotoxins, molds, and chemicals and meet the nutritional requirements of the animal.

Use only FDA-approved feed additives and medications. Know the withdrawal times, ingredients, and proper method of application of any products used. Extra-label use of feed additives is illegal and strictly prohibited. Strictly adhere to withdrawal times to avoid volative residues. Withdrawal times of many of the feed additives are found in the Withdrawal Time Charts for Beef Cattle in the appendix of the manual.

As a precaution against the transmission and spread of bovine spongiform encephalitis (BSE), ruminant-derived protein sources (meat and bone meal from cattle or sheep) can NOT be fed to cattle. Check with your feed supplier to be sure ruminant meat and bone meal is NOT included in your supplements.

Handling Cattle

  • Bruising of cattle costs the beef industry $22 million per year
  • Considerations for handling cattle and handling facilities

Bruising costs the beef industry about $22 million annually. The 1995 National Beef Quality Audit found that bruising cost the industry $4.03 for every fed animal marketed, a significant increase over the 1991 quality audit. Bruising is a management issue that can be easily addressed and potentially corrected by those who work with and handle cattle. This includes producers, feeders, truckers, and packers. The 1995 audit suggested some management practices that producers and cattle handlers could change to decrease the incidence of bruising. First is removing horns and dehorning calves. Horns often bruise and damage loins, one of the most valuable cuts of the carcass. Next, because back bruises tend to occur while cattle are entering into or unloading off trucks, truckers and producers should take care when loading and unloading their animals. Low-hanging bars, floors, decks, and endgates on trucks and similar low hanging elements of loading docks should be moved up or removed.

Design of cattle handling facilities needs to be considered. Cattle have panoramic vision and can detect movement from any area except directly behind them, but they have poor depth perception. Their depth perception is limited to a 25 to 50 degree area straight ahead, limiting their ability to locate openings and gates in fence lines.

Use solid fences in loading ramps, crowding pens and chutes so cattle can see only straight ahead and decrease their panoramic vision. To move an animal forward in the chute or alley, move or stand behind the animal’s shoulder. To back an animal up, move ahead of the shoulder. The sides of the working chute should be sloped, decreasing the animals ability to turn around.

To decrease bruising, use a prod only to the extent necessary. Don’t beat cattle with canes and sticks.

Holding pens should be designed to hold the maximum number of cattle to be worked at one time in order to eliminate crowding. These holding pens should be one solid color and have solid sides to decrease balking and temptation to escape. These pens should also be free from protrusions and sharp edges.

It is important to remember; handling facilities do not need to be expensive or elaborate but must be functional, economical, and most important, safe.

Record Keeping and Record Maintenance

  • Keeping good records is a critical management function
  • Reasons to document use of animal products
  • Effective documentation of animal product use potentially reduces liability

Keeping good management records, whether by hand or with a computer, detailing all aspects of your operation is a critical management function for any operation. These records can show phases of your operation that excel and those that could use improvement.

To gain lost market share, the beef industry must ensure consumer confidence in the safety of its product by documenting use of animal health products. Producers must be able to prove, through documentation, tight control over risk factors that have residue potential, to strengthen consumer confidence and demand and relieve regulatory pressures.

Effective documentation that shows appropriate compliance with training, inventory control, use orders, animal health identification, and withdrawal and disposal compliance is the only way to avoid liability from a residue contamination that could occur from your livestock.

Maintaining Treatment Records

Treatment records should include:

  • Animal or animals treated
  • Date of treatment
  • Product(s) used
  • Dosage used
  • Where administered
  • Method administered
  • Withdrawal times
  • Who gave the treatment

Maintaining a quality set of records is critical to any operation. Records can show both efficiencies and inefficiencies of the operation and identify where improvements can be made. Treatment records show the illnesses that have occurred within the herd and can remind the producer of withdrawal times. A complete set of treatment records can be an asset to the producer and to the buyers of the animals.

Treatment records should include identification of the animal or animals treated and the date they were treated. Also included should be a list of the products used, including the product, manufacturer, and lot number.

Record the dosage of product used, the route of administration and the method used to administer the product. For example, 5 cc, left neck, IM. Withdrawal times of the product or products used and who administered the treatment should also be noted.

There are sample treatment records on pages 35 through 37 in the appendix section of the manual. Also located in the appendix section are Beef Cattle Withdrawal Charts for most animal health products and feed additives.


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