Quality Assurance for Youth Producers
Well-informed livestock producers recognize the importance of following quality assurance guidelines to ensure they provide safe and wholesome food animal products to the public. However, young producers may have a bit of trouble understanding the market livestock projects they raise will ultimately appear on a consumer’s plate. Below is a list of recommended actions producers of all ages can take to minimize threats to animal health and product wholesomeness. At the bottom of the page are links to several fun and active learning exercises that can be used with youth to help them appreciate the importance of producing safe, wholesome, high-quality food products for consumers to enjoy.
Producing High Quality Market Animals
· Get all prior identification and treatment records from breeder.
· Use a permanent identification system on each animal.
· Select project animals based on good health, proper weight for age and genetic potential for adequate growth during feeding period.
· Practice low-stress methods of animal handling: slow, quiet, no hitting or crowding.
· Minimize use of medications.
· Use proper injection techniques: Use subcutaneous injections whenever possible. Give intramuscular injections in neck muscle. Divide large injections into multiple sites. Clip and disinfect injection site when possible. Use a sterile syringe for each treatment and a sterile needle for each animal. Use the smallest size needle possible for the injection. Restrain animals well to prevent needle breakage or excessive tissue damage.
· Keep excellent records (feeds, medications, illness, sales, etc.) throughout the animal’s life and maintain for five years after sale.
· Abide by all medication use guidelines, including storage, dosages, withholding times and legal extra-label drug use on the advice of your veterinarian.
· Calculate rate of gain needed to meet target weights by target dates; feed for that rate of gain.
· Do not hold or push animals with feeding programs.
· Do not hold animals off water or feed.
· Feed animals a balanced diet.
· Practice routine preventive health care practices such as hoof trimming, vaccinating, and deworming as needed.
· Provide a clean, safe and healthy environment for animals.
· Exercise animals a reasonable amount for adequate muscling.
· When possible, obtain carcass data from market animals; study and learn from the results.
· When possible, interview consumers about what they thought about the food products you raised.
· Make sure market animals are not cryptorchids or have any other disqualifications.
· Avoid offspring of animals known to produce progeny with poor carcass characteristics.
· Practice routine biosecurity measures such as minimizing visitors, isolating sick animals, disinfecting equipment, and quarantining new animals or returning show animals.
· Make sure all family members and farm employees are aware of and perform quality assurance practices.
Experiential Activities to Emphasize Concepts of Quality Assurance
Quality Assurance Activity for Youth: Beginners’ Activity
Quality Assurance Activity for Youth: Quality Assurance: Making It Personal
Quality Assurance Activity for Youth: Role in Food Production Chain
Quality-Assurance-Activity-for-Youth: Would You Eat This?