"Nobody cares more for the well-being of cattle than the 700,000 beef producers who spend their lives raising them.” says Dan Thomson, associate professor and director of the Beef Cattle Institute at Kansas State University (KSU). “Beef cattle well-being is the foundation to any beef cattle operation.”

Improvement can be made, though. That’s the primary aim of the second annual International Symposium on Beef Cattle Welfare KSU will host May 19-21.

“This symposium will provide everyone involved in the beef cattle industry – from producers, to veterinarians, to feedyard managers, to transport specialists, to beef processors – the opportunity to constructively discuss the well-being issues facing our industry,” Thomson says.

For instance, are there practical ways to decrease the pain associated with castration and dehorning? What’s the most humane way to move non-ambulatory cattle? How do producers benchmark and audit management practices to verify animal welfare to the public?

These are only a few issues featured at the symposium (see the agenda at isbcw.beefcattleinstitute.org/). Along the way, experts who are part of the North American Food Animal Well-being Commission (NAFAWC) will share insight into what the public – domestically and internationally – wants in terms of animal welfare, how the industry is addressing those concerns, and how individual producers can effectively answer questions and concerns.

The NAFAWC was established in August 2009, in part to direct research efforts, field studies and assessment tools for the North American beef industry in relation to beef cattle well-being in order to provide science-based recommendations for cattle-management practices. It includes a who’s who of domestic and international animal welfare experts, including: Thomson; internationally acclaimed animal behavior expert, Temple Grandin from Colorado State University; Janice Swanson, Michigan State University; Ron Gill, Texas A&M University; Joseph Stookey, University of Saskatchewan; and Dee Griffin, University of Nebraska.

“Animal well-being issues extend beyond the ag community,” Thomson explains. “People across the country are looking for more information on animal care and handling, and we’re eager to share our story with them. This symposium is an example of how the beef industry and its researchers continue to find new advances in animal well-being for the cattle they raise for beef. The beef industry has nothing to hide from the American public.”

You can attend the symposium from wherever you live. The symposium will be broadcast live via the Internet to individuals as well as groups. For instance, some businesses and universities might make the broadcast available in a group setting to area clients and stakeholders. The first symposium last year attracted 700 participants from 31 states and four countries.

To register for the symposium, either to attend onsite or from a remote location, go to www.isbcw.beefcattleinstitute.org/.

“Animal well-being is the foundation for the performance, health and profitability of cattle raised for beef, and as an industry, we take great pride in our responsibility to properly care for animals,” Thomson says. “We’re constantly looking for new and innovative ways to build upon existing science to ensure healthy animals and safe, quality products to feed the world’s population.”