Evaluation of the Texas Feed Yard Workforce: Survey of Stockperson Attitudes and Perceptions towards Euthanasia, Animal Care and Employee Value Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • © 2019 Emily. E. Ridge, Ron Gill and Courtney L. Daigle. A survey was administered to Texas cattle feedyard employees (n =111) from 31 different operations measuring stockperson perception, job satisfaction and socioeconomic status using Likert statements and multiple-choice questions. Differences among employment roles (manager, pen rider, processor (those who vaccinate and implant incoming calves), doctor (non-veterinarians)) were evaluated using a Kruskal-Wallis test followed by a Multiple Comparison procedure. Managers strongly agreed with the statement “beef cattle are not dirty” more than doctors (P = 0.03) and that “cattle behavior is affected by the way we treat them” than pen riders (P = 0.002) or processors (P = 0.01). Managers were less likely than doctors, pen riders and processors to believe they have too many cattle to look after (P = 0.05, P = 0.006 and P = 0.01, respectively). Pen riders reported less confidence in performing euthanasia than doctors (P = 0.02) and managers (P = 0.02) and, along with processors, agreed that cattle were not always euthanized in a timely manner (P = 0.02 and P = 0.02, respectively). While all roles viewed Holstein cattle unfavorably (P < 0.001), processors viewed them more positively than pen riders (P = 0.05) and managers (P = 0.001). Socioeconomic results showed that Texas feedyards have a dedicated, passionate work force, with 43% of participants having worked in the industry for 9+ years and 49% of participants working at cattle feedyards because they enjoy working with animals. Unfortunately, it was evident that stock people are underpaid (57% of participants making between $10-15/hr) and overworked (76% of participants working 50+ hrs/week). Survey responses identified critical role-dependent knowledge gaps and biases. A disconnect was observed among compensation, workload and the duration of time stock people spend interacting with cattle. Increasing industry investment in feedyard employees and providing breed-specific and employee role-specific education may promote an encouraging workplace that ensures feedlot cattle experience good welfare.

author list (cited authors)

  • Ridge, E. E., Gill, R., & Daigle, C. L.

citation count

  • 1

publication date

  • February 2019