By Justin Walker

Animal welfare. It is, and has been, a hot topic surrounding agriculture.

It’s a priority of Texas cattlemen and women. And of consumers.

From niche markets to mainstream consumer markets, ranchers in the Lone Star State play a unique role in providing a safe, nutritious product.

And it all starts on farms and ranches.

Early mornings. Late nights. All hours in between. Taking care of livestock, poultry, horses and other animals is no easy task. It’s a responsibility Texas farmers and ranchers, and those around the globe, take seriously.

Part of that responsibility is treating animals when they get sick.

Responsible antibiotic use on the farm and ranch is a safe, and needed, practice.

It’s case-specific. Farmers and ranchers consult their veterinarian and work quickly to administer treatment, so a disease doesn’t spread and put all livestock at risk.

Ranchers also have training programs, like the Beef Quality Assurance program, that help them better understand animal welfare and handling practices.

There are a few bad actors. Every business has them. Some of those “undercover” videos that allege animal abuse are often staged. But the people who do commit these bad acts are the exception, not the rule.

And they shouldn’t be used to represent those who work in animal agriculture.

Because a healthy, well-cared for animal performs better. It gains weight, produces milk and isn’t often sick.

There’s a lot of misinformation online. So, in my opinion, the best way to learn about animal welfare is by talking with a rancher or visiting a farm or ranch. Get a tour of their facilities. Ask questions. Have a conversation. But don’t rely on everything you see online.

Farmers and ranchers are constantly searching for new and improved ways to raise their livestock. They want a well-cared for animal, because that means a better experience for you and me, the consumer, in the end.