Animal health management is the foundation of animal care and one of the most detailed sections of a feedlot audit under the Canadian Feedlot Animal Care Assessment Program. It accounts for a possible 85 to 110 points depending on the size of your feedlot and the protocols you follow. Another 70 points are available by meeting minimum targets for the overall condition of the animals.
Regulatory matters are first on the checklist. The auditor needs to see that cattle bear CCIA or ATQ radio frequency identification tags and that retagged animals are properly recorded.
Health protocols, feed prescriptions, veterinary reports or bills should be recorded on documents with your veterinarian’s signature or the clinic name to verify a valid client-patient relationship to the auditor.
Health protocols must be developed by a veterinarian to cover processing procedures on arrival, the treatment of disease and other conditions, and the use of production-enhancing technologies such as implants and feed additives like MGA and ractopamine. The protocols can be made available in hard copy or your health-management software program.
Specific treatment protocols for common feedlot diseases and conditions need to include a description of the disease and drugs to use for pulls and re-pulls. Include the dose, route, withdrawal time, duration and frequency of treatment for the drugs. Protocols are also needed to cover any procedures feedlot staff may need to follow when, for example, repairing a rectal prolapse.
Health protocols should include pen-checking routine, information on how to prevent, treat, control and manage diseases and conditions, how to deal with animals that relapse, how to manage chronically ill and salvage-slaughter animals, and pain control procedures for dehorning, castrating and other surgeries.
There must be no intact bulls in pens unless you have a policy of feeding intact bulls or your castration protocol calls for delayed castration. Alternatively, feedlots may have policies to return intact and/or belly-nut bulls to the order buyer or previous owner.
Records must be kept to verify that pens are being checked, regularly, and all protocols are being followed.
The auditor will ask about training for the animal-health crew and the training records. The feedlot veterinarian must be involved in training staff on how to prevent, diagnose, and properly treat sick and injured animals.
The number of pens selected to assess the overall condition of the cattle will depend on the size of the feedlot and include home feeding pens as well as specialty pens for receiving or shipping, sick, chronic, salvage and buller animals. The auditor will walk through these pens with a feedlot guide after the feedlot’s health crew has been through them.
During the assessment, the auditor is obligated to request that animals noted as sick, injured, thin or otherwise compromised be treated immediately according to the feedlot veterinarian’s protocol. Any animals found in severe distress beyond the point of the feedlot veterinarian’s protocol for salvage slaughter, must be immediately euthanized, again according to protocol.
An animal found in severe distress during an audit may be considered an egregious act of neglect, and may result in a failed audit depending on the situation. An animal with chronic respiratory disease, for example, may be very thin and mouth breathing due to the disease rather than neglect.
Benchmarks for the condition of animals will be fine-tuned as the program is reviewed. Current targets are shown above.
This is part of a series of articles on the new Canadian Feedlot Animal Care Assessment Program. Please see Canadian Cattlemen, May 2016, for more background. For more information, contact your provincial cattle feeder association for the link to all program documents on the National Cattle Feeders Association’s website or contact the NCFA, 403-769-1519, [email protected].