Change our thinking on cull cows

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Cull dairy cattle provide the meat industry with beef but the cull cow industry is not without its challenges. At the 2011 American Meat Institute conference in Kansas City, Mo., last week, meat industry consultant Jerry Karczewski, Karczewski Consulting, spoke about the culture change in the packing industry over time and the need for further change.

“Previously, we asked animals to think like humans and facilities were designed from a human perspective,” he said. “But livestock think differently; they are visual thinkers with points-of-balance and flight zones.”

Now, he says, we have learned to think like animals. “Facilities are designed to minimize animal stress. Employees are trained to understand principles of animal behavior and calm handling.”

However, dairy beef, though a valuable meat resource, presents one of the most visible animal welfare issues today, Karczewski noted, especially in light of the Hallmark/Westland cattle abuse situation. “This is a dichotomy that must be resolved.”

Karczewski says there were three levels of failure in the Hallmark/Westland incident. “The meat plant failed to develop an animal care culture. The trucker failed to refuse transport of cattle unfit to travel, and the dairy failed to cull or euthanize cattle in a timely manner.”

There are negative consequences of failure to change, he stressed. “Loss of dairy cattle as a meat source and companies not wanting to risk negative press. A poor public image bleeds over to other meat sources as well.



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