Animal Health and Well-Being

Indicator Definition

The cumulative effects of cattle health, nutrition, care and comfort.

Why is this indicator important to the cow-calf sector?

Ranchers have a moral and ethical responsibility to ensure, to the best of their ability, the health and well-being of the livestock in their care.


Has the operation adopted a Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) or similar program principles into management of the farm or ranch?

Why did we choose this metric?

The BQA program is a scientifically founded and industry accepted national program that provides educational resources designed to improve beef safety and quality while improving cattle well-being. The BQA program includes guidelines on the proper administration of animal health products including antibiotic stewardship, best management practices for animal well-being, and animal handling recommendations and is consistent with global standards as identified by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

Desired Outcome

The following improvements in the animal health and well-being sustainability outcomes can be realized if an operation has implemented the principles outlined in the BQA program:

  • Low stressed cattle
  • Healthier herds
  • Reduced use/need for animal health products or interventions
  • Improved animal performance
  • Reduced risk of injury to employees

Why do these outcomes matter?

Sound animal husbandry practices, based on decades of practical experience and research are known to impact the well-being of cattle, individual animal health, and herd productivity.

Success Criteria

Increase number of U.S. cow-calf producers who have implemented BQA principles or similar on their farm or ranch.

How does this metric continuously improve beef sustainability?

If not cared for properly, cattle health can be impaired, reducing animal performance and increasing their stress level. When proper attention is paid to protect the health, nutrition, care and comfort of cattle, the whole herd will benefit from stronger health, lower stress, higher performance and reduced need for animal health interventions. Coupled with the proper handling of the livestock, low stressed animals present a reduced risk of injury to employees.

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