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A Vet's Perspective on the Animal Care Debate

russ-daly-in-action.jpg Today, my dad and I are headed up the road to Artesian, S.D. to help our neighbors wean their calves for today's sale in town. I think it's a great resource to team up with neighbors, whether it be borrowing equipment or sharing labor forces. Anyway, it has started raining again, and I think I'm going to be wishing I was back inside blogging instead of working cattle in the mud and rain; however, this blogging/cattle ranching business is truly a balancing act, and I feel very fortunate to be able to do both. Before I head out to the ranch, I thought I would share a conversation I recently had with South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension Service Veterinarian, Russ Daly. Daly, DVM, met with me last week to discuss this ongoing battle between the animal rights activists and farm and ranch organizations. The SDSU Extension Service is currently working on developing an outlet to share unbiased information about agriculture with consumers, and although they are still in the planning stages, Dr. Daly had plenty of thoughts on this particular subject. Read on to learn what he has to say about the animal care debate.

“The South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service has always been an unbiased source for the general public to count on,” said Daly, DVM. “We take this responsibility very seriously and feel that our extension educators and specialists have a great ability to interact with the public to explain our modern production practices, so they can better understand where their food comes from and how it is raised.”

"Everyone knows the quote, ‘They don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care. We need to show the general public, in an unbiased forum, that farmers and ranchers truly care and are putting the animals and the environment first in their businesses.”

“It’s going to become increasingly important for producers to stay up-to-date on the most current research regarding animal care practices that. Things like timely euthanasia and adequate pain management are practices the public is looking at, too. We need to be transparent in our work, and if there is something on your operation you wouldn’t want consumers to see, then maybe that’s something to improve upon.”

For quality information on best animal handling practices, Dr. Daly recommends checking out the position statements listed on the websites for the American Association for Bovine Practitioner’s and the American Veterinary Medical Association. While the South Dakota Cooperative Extension Service works to provide an educational program to reach non-agriculture groups, food producers can work on improving their own operations for the better, and together, these efforts will help to regain trust in America’s farmer and rancher. I appreciate Dr. Daly for speaking with me on this topic and providing today's food for thought. So, what efforts are you making at your operation to improve for the better?

BEEF Daily Quick Fact: The cattle industry is a family business. Eighty percent of the cattle businesses have been in the same families for more than 25 years; 10 percent fore more than 100 years. (Source: Beef Facts)