Dairy producers have long recognized the importance of proper cattle management to their animals’ comfort and performance. Humane animal care, handling and transportation practices — based on practical experience, sound science and research — have a positive impact on cattle health and well-being as well as beef and milk quality and consumer confidence.
Since operations are located in various environments and locations with different management systems, there is no one specific set of production practices suited to every producer and operation. However, through your checkoff-funded Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) program, there are basic guidelines for management and the utmost care for animals that apply to all operations. The Dairy Animal Care & Quality Assurance (DACQA) guidelines provide information on cattle care and handling, including housing, employee training and animal transportation. The Dairy Calf and Heifer Association’s (DCHA) Gold Standards also provide cattle housing guidelines.
When considering housing needs, it’s important to match the physiological and behavioral characteristics of the cattle and the level of production. Facilities should be well-maintained and clean, with good drainage and manure removal systems. Cattle should be provided with adequate space for animal care, comfort and safety and protection from weather extremes — both heat and cold. Penn State University has developed various online plans to help when designing or updating cattle facilities. The BQA program also offers a video series and training materials on facilities for different types of operations and cattle handling needs.