Practical approach and outlook regarding animal welfare concerns related to beef feedlot production
Keywords:cattle welfare, feedlot, workforce management, leadership, culture
The topic of animal welfare resonates strongly with the general public today as interest in the quality of life of food animals continues to grow. New tools to address, prevent, and assess animal welfare on farms will likely incorporate novel approaches due to the direct role and influence that livestock caretakers have on animal welfare. Addressing worker welfare as part of animal welfare is a complex subject area that must incorporate multiple components such as occupational psychology, safety and comfort, training and education, and cultural barriers of a diverse immigrant workforce. Addressing these factors also requires acknowledgement that each is interdependent with one another and with animal welfare. Very little metrics are available to quantify feedlot worker performance, comfort, and job satisfaction; however, the need for a skilled, stable, and satisfied workforce in feedlots is increasing. Veterinarians and stockpeople are regarded as the most influential and critical individuals for animal welfare and productivity. Therefore, a unique opportunity exists for feedlot veterinarians and owners/managers to proactively address the needs of feedlot workers and positively influence the feedlot culture for improved work performance and animal welfare outcomes.