The Importance of Animal Welfare
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The Importance of Animal Welfare

My name is Dave Sjeklocha. I’m a veterinarian with Cattle Empire. My title is Operations Manager of Animal Health and Welfare. I feel like I’m very fortunate to get to work for Cattle Empire and the Brown family because of the vision they have for the beef industry as far as consumer concerns such as animal welfare, antibiotic use, and food safety. I’m a graduate of Kansas State University. I’m a big Wildcat football fan and I’m a huge Bill Snyder fan. One of bill Snyder’s philosophies is we should work to do a little bit better every day, and that’s what I try to live by as well. Our Animal Health and Welfare team at Cattle Empire in my opinion is top-notch Maybe I’m biased, but we not only try to
take advantage of all the technologies we have in trying to make better diagnosis of disease, to using antibiotics more judiciously, to training our workers how to find our cattle that needs some assistance in a timely manner, but by virtue of the fact that there’s two veterinarians here, that we have some well-trained people working in our animal hospital system, that we have some great pen riders and cowboys that care about their job, it’s very exciting and very encouraging to know that not only do we utilize those technologies and try to help advance new technologies, but every day we’ve got people looking at cattle the old-school, hands-on approach to making sure our cattle are healthy and wholesome for the consumer. All the Cattle Empire operations are in close enough vicinity to each other that we can get to each of them on a daily basis if we need to. That level of supervision from an animal welfare and animal health perspective provides – we believe provides – great confidence to the consumer that we are taking care of our livestock
properly, and it also provides great confidence to our management team that
their livestock are being cared for properly. At Cattle Empire we try to hold ourselves accountable. We hold each other accountable but we also try to hold it ourselves accountable. We have several measures by which we can do this. One is in all our hospitals and processing barns we have live feed cameras where we can observe our workers doing their job and make sure that they are doing all the things we ask for them to care for those animals properly. Whether that’s some things as simple as taking their temperature, or making proper injections, or administering a growth-promoting
implant correctly. We can watch all that and if the need arises we can make corrections as our workers are standing there. We also – through our Animal Care commitment – we hold all workers responsible for watching over their co-workers and making sure that animals are not being abused and that they are being properly taken care of. We insist that our workers if they see an issue such as that, that they report to us that these issues are going on. We have taken upon ourselves to audit our own crews. We also have outside auditors that will come in and audit our crews independently. We try to, for instance, observe our processing crews and score them on how they are handling the cattle, how they are administering their injections, how they are catching the cattle in the squeeze chute, even how they are releasing the cattle
in the squeeze chute. We watch all these things, we audit our crews on these things, they have taken it to the next level where it’s a bit of a competition
for them. They want to know how the other processing crews are doing. They want to know what their score is today so that tomorrow they can do better I’ve been associated with Cattle Empire
for 13 years. I came on staff in 2011 just a little over five years ago. Before that I was their consulting veterinarian, and I learned such an appreciation not only for the Brown family but also the vision they have for the beef industry in general. The things that make me tick are animal welfare, proper antibiotic use, and keeping cattle as healthy as we possibly can. That fits so well when the Browns asked me to come on staff because I know that’s their interest, I know that part of their vision is trying to keep the consumer confidence at a very high level so people can be assured that if they know cattle are coming from Cattle Empire feed yards, it’s a good thing.

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