Interpretive Summary: The Stockman’s Scorecard: quantitative evaluation of beef cattle stockmanship.
By: Dr. Emily Taylor
Behavior and welfare of our livestock species has been highly correlated to the behavior and actions of the stockperson handling that animal. Specifically their attitudes and quality of treatment towards the animal results in a specific response.
The livestock industry has been proactive in assessing the care of livestock at the farm and processing levels through facility evaluations such as BQA Feedyard Assessment, the North American Meat Institute Audit, and the European Welfare Quality Audit. These evaluations provide highly reliable, animal-based measurements that are utilized to determine the quality of stockmanship within managing facilities and equipment used. However, the potential of well-designed facilities and equipment can only be realized if those using them, use them properly.
Therefore, the purpose of this study was to evaluate the use of the Stockman’s Scorecard, used to measure the quality of beef cattle stockmanship. Thirty-nine beef feedlots in Texas utilized the Scorecard, with eighty-four stockman being observed. The coding for the stockman scale was as follows: 1 = calm/quiet, 2 = calm plus another descriptor, 3 = fast/rushed/excited, 4 = nervous/unsure/frustrated. The coding for the livestock scale was as follows: 1 = calm/quiet, 2 = slightly jumpy, 3 = excited/jumpy/wound-up, 4 = stubborn/hesitant.
The most frequent mistakes by the stockman included: fills crowd pen/tub over half full, slow to remove pressure, uses unnecessary noise, stands in front and taps rear, and fails to regulate animal flow through a pinch point. Negative associations were found between the points deducted from the Noise and Physical Contact theme of the Scorecard and the number of animals touched with an electric prod, as well as, the final Scorecard score and the number of animals that vocalize in the chute prior to procedures.
Overall, as the scores of stockmen decreased, there were an increase in the number of negative actions toward cattle and a negative behavioral response of the cattle. This article has established the criterion-related validity of the Scorecard by associating the Scorecard’s results with animal-based observations from the BQA Feedyard Assessment. This tool may be used for educators to evaluate stockmanship training, or researchers to precisely define the stockmanship parameters of their animal handling studies.
Authors state that further research is needed to determine whether a specific stockman can be identified as the cause of handling aberrations. To read more about the Stockman’s Scorecard, check out the full article in Translational Animal Science.