There are many practices within production agriculture that, if not entirely understood, can be easily misinterpreted. It first must be established that agriculture producers are dynamic managers of natural resources who depend on their livestock in order to provide for their families. Here are a few examples of management practices that beef producers often employ to care for their animals which are sometimes be misconstrued.
Because most male calves are raised for beef, the calves are often castrated. Castration is the process of removing the reproductive organs of an animal, so that the animal is no longer capable of reproducing. By doing so, the animal no longer produces the level of testosterone and other hormones. These hormones can actually contribute to less tender, undesirable, meat. In the same way, because the animal does not devote as much energy to hormone production, the animal is able to use more nutrients to influence end product meat quality, such as marbling and tenderness. There are several different methods to castrate male calves. Depending on the age, weather conditions, and the individual condition of the calf, our operation uses either band or scalpel methods.
Branding – As the saying goes, “Trust your neighbor but brand your cattle.”
Branding is a form of permanent identification often used by beef producers to keep track of their cattle. Branding can either be done with dry ice, known as freeze branding, or with a direct heat source, known as hot-iron branding. The iron is held on the skin for about 3 seconds. With live cattle prices being so high, cattle rustling is becoming more of an issue. Without permanent identification, there is no way to trace the stolen animals back to their rightful owners. A brand stays on the hide all the way to the harvest facility. So even after cattle are sold to the packer, criminals can be found based on evidence provided by the hides of cattle.
Dehorning is the process of removing the horns of the animal so as to reduce the stress and wounds possibly inflicted to other animals. As with many management practices, there are several different methods to dehorn. For example: horns can be removed using dehorning pastes, surgical wire, scoop dehorners and many other ways depending on the age and individual circumstances of each calf. Dehorning is done for the safety of the surrounding animals and the producers. Because cattle are habitual herd animals, horns can easily cause wounds and bruises that place unnecessary stress on those animals. Any stress caused by the dehorning process only lasts for a fraction of the time as compared to the stress that can be caused by constant beating and battering of calf playmates.
God bless, folks!
Blonde Beef Babe