Leaders from academia and the beef industry are announcing the formation of an independent advisory group to focus on beef cattle health and well-being. The North American Food Animal Well-being Commission for Beef (NAFAWC-Beef)—which includes world-renowned experts in animal well-being—will advocate for increased research funding for animal well-being, facilitate the communication of research results in a more timely manner, advance best management practices in cattle health and welfare, and serve as an unbiased, science- and production- based group to address concerns about animal well-being. Dan Thomson, Jones professor of production medicine and epidemiology at Kansas State University, and Joseph Stookey, professor of applied ethology, Western College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, will serve as commission co-chairs.
“Animal well-being issues extend beyond the agricultural community,” said Thomson. “People across the country are looking for more information on animal care and handling, and we’re eager to share our story with them. This new partnership brings an impressive wealth of experience and expertise to the table to help bolster ongoing research and education in the area of cattle care.”
NAFAWC-Beef will help direct research efforts, field studies and assessment tools for the North American beef industry in relation to beef cattle well-being in order to provide science-based recommendations for cattle management practices.
"This as a very unique opportunity for all of us to serve the various segments of the beef industry, society and ultimately the animals, in a responsible, scientific and unified manner,” said Stookey. “This initiative has a tremendous amount of potential, and I'm excited to help lay the foundation for this important work."
The commission’s public outreach efforts will focus on a number of groups across all levels of the beef chain, including: farming and ranching organizations, consumer groups, beef harvesting companies, veterinary groups, food retail and restaurant groups, and animal welfare groups.
“The commission represents a bi-lateral initiative to support and maintain a high standard of beef cattle welfare in North America,” said Dr. Janice Swanson, professor and director of animal welfare, Michigan State University. “The diversity of expertise enhances the commission’s effectiveness to address issues in a comprehensive manner.”
The 21 inaugural members were selected for their expertise in animal care and handling. Members are as follows:
- Dr. Barry Dunn - Texas A & M University
- Dr. Bob Smith – Oklahoma State University
- Dr. Carolyn Stull - University of California at Davis
- Dr. Dan Thomson – Kansas State University
- Dr. Dave Sjeklocha – Academy of Veterinary Consultants, Chair of Beef Cattle Health and Well-Being
- Dr. Dee Griffin – University of Nebraska
- Dr. Frank Mitloehner – University of California at Davis
- Dr. Gatz Riddell - AABP, Executive Director
- Dr. Guy Loneragan – West Texas A&M University
- Dr. Hans Coetzee – Kansas State University
- Dr. Jan Shearer – Iowa State University
- Dr. Janice Swanson – Michigan State University
- Marie Belew Wheatly - American Humane Association
- Dr. Ron Gill – Texas A&M University
- Dr. Temple Grandin – Colorado State University
- Dr. Tom Noffsinger – Beef Cattle Handling Expert - Benkelman, NE
- Dr. Joseph Stookey – University of Saskatchewan, Western Veterinary College
- Dr. Jeff Rushen – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
- Susan Church – Alberta Farm Animal Council
- Dr. Karen Schwartzkopfh-Gesnswein – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
- Jennifer Woods – Livestock Handling Expert – Blackie, AB Canada
“The commission will provide a wonderful opportunity to improve the welfare of beef cattle,” said Dr. Temple Grandin, animal science professor at Colorado State University and NAFAWC-Beef member.
Several esteemed international advisory experts—including Stella Maris Huertas, DMTV, MSc. of Uruguay and Donald M. Broom, professor of animal welfare, University of Cambridge, U.K—will provide the commission with additional perspective and enhance cooperation on animal welfare issues at the global level. Other international partners are expected to be added in the coming months.
Ad hoc members of the commission include: Dr. Elizabeth Parker, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (U.S.); Dr. Jim Sartwelle, American Farm Bureau Federation (U.S.); Dr. Tom Field, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (U.S.); Ryder Lee, Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (Canada); Bryan Walton, National Cattle Feeders Association (Canada); Dr. Mike Siemens, Cargill Animal Protein; and Dr Juan Ramon Gonzalez, Confederación Nacional De Organizaciones Ganaderas (Mexico).
“Animal well-being is the foundation for the performance, health and profitability of cattle raised for beef, and as an industry, we take great pride in our responsibility to properly care for animals,” said Thomson. “We’re constantly looking for new and innovative ways to build upon existing science to ensure healthy animals and safe, quality products to feed the world’s population.”
Source: North American Food Animal Well-being Commission – Beef