14 Ways Show Cattle Producers Can Better Their Stockmanship

Rachel CutrerRHD Blog

At Ranch House, we have the honor of working with hundreds of beef producers worldwide. While a lot of our efforts here at Ranch House focus on promoting and marketing cattle from one breeder to another, sometimes it’s important to think about what happens to our cattle after we’ve successfully marketed them. Ultimately, the consumer is the end customer of all beef producers and it’s important to keep in mind that what we do on the ranch has an inherent trickle down effect to our final customers. So since National Beef Quality Assurance is offering free certification from now through November 13th we thought we’d share a few good practices that help us all —whether we are small producers or big operators — make better beef!

1. Find a trusted veterinarian

A good working relationship with a great veterinarian is a foundation of a good BQA program. Follow the veterinarian’s guidelines and recommended procedures.  Work with your veterinarian to put together an annual herd health calendar. Talk with them about your operation….if you travel a lot to shows, if you have a lot of cattle coming in and out of your farm, etc. The more your veterinarian knows, the better they can serve you.


2. Keep your trailer clean and safe

Do a quick run-through of your trailer, alleys and load-out area. Fix any areas that could cause injury, cuts or bruising to the animal while they are in transit. Clean out your trailer after each show, or after hauling new cattle from an outside source.


3. Check your facilities and equipment

Do another quick run through of your facilities and equipment. You can actually just walk through the alleys, barns, etc. as if you are the animal. Keep an eye out for any problem areas and if you notice them – get them fixed.


4. Paint your facilities one uniform color

Did you know that cattle are likely to balk at sudden changes in color? It’s true! So while it may be tempting to paint your show barn red and black zebra stripes, one uniform color will keep your cattle calmer.


5. “I need my space!”  

Every animal has what’s called a “flight zone” which is basically their “personal space.” You don’t like it when people get all up in your bubble and neither do some cattle. Each animal is different. Recognize and respect an animal’s flight zone.  


6. Keep your feed areas and water troughs clean

Whether your feed area is just a few feed pans or a giant feed mixing facility – it needs to be clean and dry. Water troughs should also be clean.


7. Keep track of who comes in and out of your barn 

Biosecurity is important. Disease can be spread by people, vehicles and other animals including non-livestock.


8. If you buy outside cattle, buy from producers with a good animal health program

Ask sellers if they have a veterinary-recommended animal health program and about their individual animal testing (ex. BVD-PI) or herd testing (ex. Johne’s disease). If you bring in new cattle, keep them isolated for a period of time. This will help identify any sick livestock so that they can be treated and don’t pass along sickness to the existing cattle on your farm. Your veterinarian can help you make a plan for this.

9. Keep copies of your records 

Did you know that you are required to keep your records a minimum of 2 years and for some restricted use pesticides it’s 3 years? Get a file box and get organized.


10. Buy from reputable feed suppliers and use feed supplements backed by sound science 

Ask your feed store or feed mill if they have a quality assurance program. Read the labels on any feed supplements you use and follow all guidelines. Use only FDA-approved medicated feed additives in rations. Extra-label use of feed additives is illegal.


11. Know your withdrawal times 

Strictly adhere to medication withdrawal times to avoid any violative residues – for medicated feed and any animal health products. When applicable, keep records if you have fed medicated feed rations. If you are shipping cattle for harvest, make sure that all withdrawal times have been met. If you are selling cattle, pass along any treatment records to the new owner. If an animal is still under a withdrawal period, make sure to tell that to the new owner.

12. Make sure your cattle are identified 

Tattoo, ear tag, or even a brand. You need to make sure each animal is clearly identified.


13. Records Records Records!

When working cattle, you have to keep good records. If you’re treating cattle individually, write down pertinent details like the date, products used, manufacturer lot/serial number, dosage, route and location of administration, earliest date of withdrawal, and who did the processing. Keep a treatment book handy to write down all medications.


14. If you need to give medication, follow the label instructions

Follow the label. It’s that easy. Give medications in the correct locations:  An SQ administration should be given in the neck region. Try to avoid intramuscular (IM) injections, but if you absolutely have to use them, they should be given in the neck area with no exceptions. Other recommended locations include intranasal or oral administration. Use a low dosage. If you have to give a higher dosage, space out the injection sites. Never give more than 10cc per injection site. If a needle bends, stop immediately and get a new one. Don’t try to straighten it out and re-use it.

Beef safety and beef quality is every producer’s responsibility, whether you have one heifer for a show program, or run a 10,000 head feedyard. If you would like to learn more about Beef Quaity Assurance, get certified as a BQA producer, or read the entire guidelines and manual, visit their website and read the entire BQA manual. (BONUS: It’s FREE to get certified during the month of October!)



Each week, Ranch House publishes an educational, entertaining or informative article about the livestock industry. Make sure you don’t miss one of our great posts (and other bonus content!) by signing up for our email list!